A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Rhode Island

Rhode Island massage therapists are regulated by the Board of Massage Therapy, under the banner of the Department of Health. The Rhode Island Department of Health requires that licensed massage therapists be at least eighteen, have good character, and meet examination and education requirements on a par with those set by national organizations.

Select a Rhode Island Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Education Requirements for Licensed Massage Therapists

Prospective massage therapists must complete programs that have been approved or accredited by an appropriate entity. The Department will accept programs that have been approved by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or that are judged to meet similar standards (http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/7016.pdf). In order to meet equivalency standards, a program must be an organized course of study designed to prepare massage therapists. It must include at least 500 hours of combined theoretical education and training. Minimum content requirements are as follows:

At least 100 hours are to be devoted to the theoretical study of anatomy and physiology.

Massage therapy theory and practice is to comprise another 300. This content area is to include applied anatomy and physiology.

The remaining hours may consist of electives. However, CPR and first aid must receive coverage.

The following subjects may be credited as massage therapy electives: ethics, professionalism, office procedures, business practices and law.

Correspondence coursework is not accepted as equivalent.

Examination Requirements

First-time massage therapists are licensed by examination. There have been recent changes in the examination process.

The latest published copy of the regulations (filed 2012) states that massage therapists must pass the National Certifying Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work (NCETMB), the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), or some other examination approved by the Department. The NCETMB and NCETM were discontinued in early 2015.

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) now counts Rhode Island among the many states that will accept the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, or MBLEx (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=59).

The MBLEx covers the following concepts:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Massage and bodywork overview (history, modalities, skill sets)
  • Kinesiology
  • Benefits of soft tissue techniques
  • Special populations, pathologies, contraindications, and cautions
  • Professional practice guidelines
  • Assessment, treatment planning, and reassessment
  • Ethics, legalities, and boundaries

The MBLEx is computer adapted and is available year-round. Candidates will find handbooks and application forms on the FSMTB website (https://www.fsmtb.org). There is a $195 examination fee; approved candidates can expect to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) within one week's time. The ATT authorizes the candidate to schedule a testing session at a Pearson VUE computerized assessment center. There is currently one assessment center in Rhode Island, in Warwick. There are multiple centers in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards automatically sends score verification to one state board selected by the examinee at the time of application. Additional score reports can be purchased for $20; candidates who need additional reports are directed to fill out mobility forms (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=61). The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam Office can be reached by telephone at 866-962-3926 or by email at ‘mblex at fsmtb.org’.

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the Department of Health website; massage therapy is listed under "other healthcare specialties" (http://health.ri.gov/licensing/healthcare/index.php#otherhealth). A number of supplemental documents will be required.

Prospective massage therapists must apply for federal background checks. They may apply through the state bureau of investigation or a local police department. Results are to be sent directly to the licensing agency.

Applicants also need three reference letters; they are to affirm moral character.

Transcripts are to be sent straight from the massage school.

The prospective massage therapist will need proof of CPR and first aid training.

Legal residency must be documented. An applicant who was born in the United States may include a notarized copy of a birth certificate.

The applicant will need to attach a two by two photograph to the application form and have the accompanying affidavit notarized.

Applicants who have criminal or disciplinary histories will need to provide details.

There is a $65 application fee. The application fee covers the cost of licensure up until the next annual renewal date. It is, however, nonrenewable even in cases where licensure is denied.

Application materials are to be sent to the Board of Massage Therapy in Providence.

New licenses can be verified online (https://healthri.mylicense.com/Verification/). The Department also sends out wallet cards, but there may be a delay of up to three weeks.

Out-of-State and International Massage Therapists

Applicants are directed to send a license verification form to all states where they either hold current licensing or have held licensing in the past.

A massage therapist can be endorsed into Rhode Island on the basis of licensing in another state that has similar requirements.

An international massage therapist may be licensed on the basis of 1) credentialing in a foreign nation and 2) education that is at least substantially equivalent. Examination may be required (http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/7016.pdf).

Internationally educated MBLEx candidates need state approval.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Rhode Island Department of Health (http://health.ri.gov/licensing/healthcare/index.php). Candidates can click “other healthcare specialties” to view current massage therapy regulations.

The Board can be reached at (401) 222-2828. Applicants are invited to call if they have questions about the process.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is the state's professional organization (http://ri.amtamassage.org/). AMTA-RI is not involved with the licensing process.