A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapist Requirements in Oklahoma

As of early 2015, Oklahoma has no law regulating massage therapy at the state level. In February, a bill was introduced that would make massage therapy a state-licensed profession.

***Update***

May 11, 2016 Governor Mary Fallin signed into law Senate Bill 687 establishing a statewide regulatory system for the massage therapy practice. Bill 687 includes setting licensing qualifications, procedures for renewing a massage therapy license, regulating massage therapy schools in Oklahoma and sets standards for the massage therapy profession. The effective date of this act will be May 1, 2017.

The State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering is the regulatory agency implementing and enforcing the Massage Therapy Practice Act.

A license to practice massage therapy will be issued after a complete application is filed, the required fees are paid and the applicant has met the following requirements:

  • Is at least 18 years of age
  • Has one or more of the following:
    • Documentation of completion and passing of a recognized competency examination in massage therapy
    • An affidavit of at least 5 years of work experience
    • A certificate and transcript of completion from a massage school that includes 500 hours of education
  • Proof that the applicant maintains liability insurance
  • The applicant must provide full disclosure to the board of any criminal proceeding taken against the applicant. (https://www.ok.gov/cosmo/documents/2016-08-01_SB687.pdf)

There is a trend toward increased regulation nationwide. There has been more than one massage therapy bill introduced in Oklahoma in recent years. In 2013, two bills were introduced in the Oklahoma legislature: one that would have placed massage therapy under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Medical Licensure, another that would have placed it under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Some Oklahoma municipalities do license massage therapists. Prospective massage therapists who live in other parts of the state can prepare themselves by meeting standards that are at least on a par with national standards. The path begins with education. Massage therapists also have the option of seeking national certification.

Select an Oklahoma Massage Therapist Requirement Topic:

Pursuing Board Certification: Meeting the Recognized Competency Examination in Massage Therapy Requirement

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is very well known in the massage therapy industry. The NCBTMB confers Board Certification (http://www.ncbtmb.org/board-certification). While Board Certification does not confer the legal right to practice in states that regulate the profession, in many cases, it means that a higher standard has been met.

One prerequisite requirement to Board Certification is 750 hours of education (or the equivalent). The 750 hours is higher than what a majority of states currently require. However, it is on a par with a recent Oklahoma proposal: that licensure would be based on passing a national examination that required the equivalent of at least 750 hours of education (http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/redir?id=54c1a7f71).

Another Board Certification requirement: passing an examination. Candidates must pass the Board Certification Examination for Massage and Bodywork (BCEMB). The largest portion of the test (43% -46%) covers technique and application. Planning, evaluation, and documentation covers another 34% - 37%.. Communication, law and ethics also receive coverage. The NCBTMB has provided a detailed content outline and a candidate handbook; the handbook can be accessed from the “tools for certification” section of the Board Certification page.

The NCBMTB carries out a background check. A certificate candidate must also maintain CPR certification and agree to uphold a professional code of ethics and oppose human trafficking. CPR certification can be obtained through the following organizations (or through instructors certified by the following organizations):

  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • American Red Cross (ARC)
  • American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI)

A massage therapist would not actually achieve Board Certification until he or she had practiced at the professional level for 250 hours and for a period of no less than six months.

Meeting Educational Requirements: NCBTMB Schools

The prerequisite is education. A student should plan to enroll in a program that is, at the minimum, 500 hours. It should have an NCBTMB code. NCBTMB assigned schools are schools that have requested review and been determined to meet curricular requirements. There are currently seven Oklahoma schools that have been assigned NCBTMB codes (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school/results?orgname=&name=&providerid=&city=&state=OK&country=All).

A school that meets requirements may ask to be reviewed; the NCBTMB has provided answers to frequently asked questions about the process (http://www.ncbtmb.com/schools/assigned-schools). Assigned schools may include as few as 500 hours in their programs; graduates can pursue the additional hours required for certification through accredited schools or through continuing education providers that have been approved by the NCBTMB. If a student graduates from a non-approved program, the only way he or she can achieve eligibility is through portfolio review.

The NCBTMB is one organization that confers legitimacy to a program. There are others. Oklahoma City, one of the Oklahoma municipalities that issues massage therapy licenses, mandates that massage therapists earn their education through programs that are accredited or state licensed (unless they hold certification through the NCBTMB). States also typically require that a person complete a program that has been approved by some recognized entity. The program may be state approved or hold accreditation through an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Education maintains a database where students can search program accreditation (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation). Although Oklahoma does not have a board that specifically approves massage therapy schools, it does have a board that licenses vocational schools, the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools.

If a school is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), it meets the 500 hour industry minimum. Oklahoma currently has one AMTA school.

Staying Current

State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering

Professional organization membership can help a massage therapist stay on top of new developments. One can stay reasonably informed just by visiting the website. The American Massage Therapy Association maintains an 'Oklahoma' page with legislative updates (http://www.amtamassage.org/chapters/82456). Oklahoma also has its own state AMTA chapter (http://www.amtamassage.org/chapters/82456).

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is another professional resource (http://www.abmp.com/).