A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Iowa

Iowa massage therapists are licensed by the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy. Requirements for licensure include pursuing an approved massage therapy education, meeting examination requirements, and completing first aid training.

Select an Iowa Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Massage Therapy Education

The prospective massage therapist will need to complete a 600 hour program. In-state programs follow a state curriculum. Students are expected to have essentially the same education wherever they pursue training. However, the Board may consider, on a case-by-case basis, the education and experience of individuals whose programs do not meet requirements to the letter. Graduates from schools that are not Iowa-approved will furnish detailed information at the time of application.

Students are not to begin programs until such time as they have earned a high school diploma or equivalency. Approved programs include the following content (https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/chapter/645.132.pdf):

  • Massage therapy fundamentals
  • Clinical application of bodywork and massage
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Client communication
  • Heath care referral
  • Pathology, infection control, and injury prevention
  • Business management
  • Iowa law and ethics
  • Wellness and healthy lifestyle

Coursework in massage therapy and assessment fundamentals will comprise at least 200 hours. Fundamentals coursework must include both indications and contraindications; it is to be completed prior to practicum. Coursework in anatomy and physiology will comprise at least 100 hours. No more than 100 hours of supervised practice in a student clinic may be credited toward the 600 hour minimum. Program requirements are described in detail in Chapter 132 of state administrative rules (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/MassageTherapy.aspx?pg=Laws).

The Board has provided list of in-state schools with approved curriculum (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/MassageTherapy.aspx?pg=Application).

First Aid Training

Iowa also requires CPR/ first aid training. This will not necessarily be included in a state-approved massage therapy program. First aid courses may be taken through the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or National Safety Council.

Examination Requirements

The Iowa Board will accept the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, or any examination offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Candidates can submit their MBLEx registration materials online (https://www.fsmtb.org/). Transcripts are not required, but applicants must confirm that they have read the information bulletin, which is also available on the FSMTB website. The examination fee is $195. The FSMTB generally issues Authorization to Test within five business days. Once authorized, candidates can schedule their examination sessions through Pearson VUE (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=65). The examination is multiple choice.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork currently offers a Board Certification examination; it is not intended to be taken for licensing purposes but as part of a multi-step process that results in a secondary credential (http://www.ncbtmb.com/board-certification). Fully 750 hours of education are required. The NCBTMB has offered other examinations in the past. The organization can be reached by telephone at (800) 296-0664 or by email at ‘info at ncbtmb.org’.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the Board website (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/MassageTherapy.aspx?pg=Application).

Applicants may show that they have met CPR and first aid requirements by providing a copy of current certification or official transcripts for coursework taken during the prior year.

Students from out-of-state schools will need to provide additional educational documentation, including a school catalog or brochure. A school official must complete one section of the application. Transcripts are to be requested and sent straight to the Board from the issuing institution. The Board will accept transcripts from the applicant only in cases where the school has since closed.

All applicants must provide verification of having passed an examination. Candidates who take the MBLEx will have exam results forwarded electronically shortly after testing (provided that they have selected the Iowa Board as the designated score recipient).

The application fee is $120; it is nonrefundable. Application materials are to be sent to the Board office in Des Moines.

Individuals now have the opportunity of filing the initial application online. However, the licensing agency will still need primary source verification of some information.

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

The Board will require verification from each state where the applicant has held licensure.

Out-of-state massage therapists can be licensed by endorsement if they have met similar requirements in another jurisdiction (https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/chapter/645.131.pdf).

Licensees from states with lower requirements can be granted temporary licenses which will allow them to work while meeting state-specific requirements. They will need to provide evidence of first aid/ CPR training. They will need to have a plan in place for meeting Iowa's education and examination requirements.

International applicants will need to have their credentials evaluated by a Board-approved agency. There are two referenced in Board administrative rule (https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/chapter/645.131.pdf). International Educational Research Foundations, Inc. (www.ierf.org) can be reached by telephone at (310)258-9451 or by email at ‘info at ierf.org’. International Credentialing Associates, Inc can be reached by telephone at (727)549-8555.

The Iowa Board will also require a notarized copy of the foreign diploma or training certificate.

Waivers

Massage therapy licensure is governed by law and administrative rule. While the Board does not have the authority to waive law, waiver of rule may be considered under certain circumstances. A waiver petition is found on the Board website.

Additional Information

The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/MassageTherapy.aspx?pg=Licensure) can be reached by telephone at (515) 281-0254.

The state's professional organization is the American Massage Therapy Association-Iowa Chapter (http://www.amtaiowa.com/).