A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in New York

New York massage therapists receive their licenses from the Office of the Professions. Licensure is granted on the basis of education and examination. Some massage therapists work under temporary permits pending examination; permits authorize employment, but not independent practice.

Educational requirements are set higher in New York than they are in most other U.S. jurisdictions. New York also administers its own license examination. Some requirements are less stringent, though, for experienced practitioners who qualify for license by endorsement.

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Licensed Massage Therapist Educational Requirements in New York

The New York Board requires 1,000 hours of massage therapy education. New York programs are registered with the State Education Department. The Office of the Professions maintains a list of programs that are license-qualifying in the state (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtprogs.htm).

State-registered programs include 200 hours of anatomy, physiology, and neurology (with at least 50 hours in neurology).

They include 150 hours of instruction in myology and/ or kinesiology.

They include fully 100 hours of pathology; this study includes muscle, soft tissue, and skin disorders.

Programs include at least 150 hours of general massage therapy theory and technique, with at least 50 hours devoted to the fundamentals of each of the major traditions: Eastern and Western.

The Board has identified a number of other areas of study that are at least peripherally related to massage therapy practice, including hygiene and infection control, first aid, recognition of abuse and neglect in patients, and use and effects of oils and powders in treatment. Together, related subjects comprise an additional 75 hours. Board-identified subject must be addressed; other subjects may receive coverage as well. CPR training is credited toward this content area. CPR training must be recent; if three years have passed since the student completed the massage therapy program, the student will need to do CPR again.

The remaining 325 hours further the student's mastery of massage therapy technique; at least 150 must involving performing massage therapy.

Programs that are not registered with the State Education Department are to be "the substantial equivalent".

Options for Individuals Who Completed Shorter Programs

Although 1,000 hours of education and training will ultimately be required, massage therapy graduates may submit their license applications when they have completed as few as 500 hours. The Board will determine deficiencies. The individual will be able to correct the deficiencies by taking coursework through an acceptable program. The licensing agency will carry out another review later.

A massage therapy graduate also has the option of applying to a license-qualifying New York program and matriculating as an advanced student. This option, unlike the previous one, will result in the student earning a new diploma or certificate. An individual who chooses this option will have to complete more hours of education, however, as New York massage therapy schools will only accept 250 hours of transfer credit.

A student who took massage therapy coursework but did not complete a program will need to complete one to become license-eligible in New York. Again, up to 250 hours of credit may be awarded for prior study.

Individuals with questions about verifying education from non-approved programs may contact the Bureau of Comparative Education by telephone at 518-474-3817, ext. 300 or by email at ‘comped at nysed.gov’.

Examination Requirements

New York massage therapists take a state-specific licensing examination. The examination covers assessment and evaluation, treatment planning, and treatment skills, as well as professional responsibilities, professional ethics, and business practice. Treatment skills comprise slightly over half of the examination. Candidates are referred to the "examination blueprint" for a breakdown of examination content; the blueprint is distributed by license-qualifying schools and is also available online (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtexamblueprint.htm). The licensing agency notes that 20 of 140 questions require the examinee to have knowledge of Eastern methods.

Massage therapy graduates are not eligible to take the examination until they have applied to the licensing agency and have had their education approved.

The examination is currently given twice a year; examinees must register well in advance of the intended test date. A massage therapist may practice under a limited permit while waiting to take the examination.

The examination is administered by CASTLE Worldwide. There is a $260 examination fee. Exams are administered in several cities, including New York City, Syracuse, and Buffalo; Buffalo is currently listed as having "August only" exam administration. Information may change from administration to administration. Approved examinees will find registration materials available on the CASTLE website (http://www.castleworldwide.com/cww/take-a-test/entry/new-york-state-education-department-division-of-professional-licensing-serv).

The Application Process

Individuals will submit applications after they have completed their massage therapy training programs; they may still have some deficiencies. The required forms are available online (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtforms.htm).

The applicant will need to verify education using the form provided. He or she will fill out the top portion; the massage therapy school will provide the required information and then submit the form to the licensing agency. More detailed information will be required in cases where the program was not identified as license-qualifying in New York; the form provides detailed directions for the registrar.

Applicants must provide information about child support status as well as legal and professional history.

The application form must be notarized. Application carries a $108 fee.

Status may be monitored online. Applicants may also call 518-474-3817, ext. 270 or email ‘opunit3 at nysed.gov’.

Individuals who seek to work under temporary permits pending examination will need to fill out a separate form. There is a $35 fee.

Endorsement Applicants

Although the licensing agency does not accept examinations other than the New York State Massage Therapy Examination for initial licensure, experienced out-of-state massage therapists may be licensed on the basis of other examinations (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/part78.htm).

Massage therapists with two to four years of experience are expected to have 1,000 hours of education and training. Massage therapists with five years of recent experience have lower requirements: only 800 hours. The licensing agency will credit a year of experience if the massage therapist has averaged at least 12 hours a week over a period of 52 weeks (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtquesans.htm).

Additional Information

Massage therapist licensing information can be obtained through the Office of the Professions (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/). General customer service is available at 518-474-3817, ext. 570. Additional contact information can be found online (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtcontact.htm).

The New York Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is the state’s professional organization (http://www.amtany.org).