A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapist Requirements in Vermont

As of 2015, Vermont does not license massage therapists, though there are groups in the state working toward greater regulation.

The trend nationwide is not only toward increasing regulation but toward higher standards. Vermont massage therapists can position themselves by pursuing education on a par with national standards and later seeking voluntary third party certifications.

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Educational Foundations

In order to meet industry standards, a program must include at least 500 hours of education. It must also operate legitimately within its jurisdiction. In some regulated states, programs must be approved by the licensing agency. Other programs draw their authority from state licensing and/ or regional or national accreditation. The Commission on Massage Therapy Education (COMTA) is an accrediting agency specifically designed for massage therapy; it is one of many accreditations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Programs may also enjoy approvals or institutional memberships. These are not accreditations, but show that a program is legitimate and has a curriculum appropriate to the profession.

Prospective massage therapists may seek their education through schools that have been assigned codes by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB); Vermont currently has five assigned schools (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school/results?orgname=&name=&providerid=&city=&state=VT&country=All).

Schools that have been assigned NCBTMB codes include at least 500 hours of massage therapy education and meet the following minimum curriculum standards:

  • There are 125 hours of body systems coursework; this includes kinesiology, physiology, and anatomy.
  • At least 200 hours are devoted to massage and bodywork theory, application, and assessment. The NCBTMB requires that instruction in this content area take place in class and be hands-on.
  • Pathology comprises 40 hours.
  • There are at least ten hours of combines business and ethics coursework; at least six of these are in ethics.

It can be advantageous to enroll in a program that includes more than the minimum 500 hours. It may enhance mobility as some states (for example, neighboring New Hampshire) set educational requirements higher.

Professional Memberships

A new massage therapist may seek membership in a professional organization and later professional certification. Some states consider professional membership when licensing professionals during the initial “grandfathering” period.

Professional organizations maintain high standards for members. Both the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals (AMBP) are established and respected within the industry.

AMTA: The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) not only requires members to subscribe to a code of ethics but requires them to have 500 hours of education (http://www.amtamassage.org/membership/join-membership-package-chapter.html?mode=membershipselect). An individual enrolled in a 500 hour program can become a student member and later a graduate member.

AMBP: American Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) requires members at the professional level to have either 500 hours of education or passing scores on the MBLEx (http://www.abmp.com/practitioners/membership_options_and_costs.php). Individuals who are already licensed as nurses or physical therapists are an exception.

The MBLEx is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (https://www.fsmtb.org/). It is the examination that is used for licensing purposes in most U.S. states. The MBLEx tests a range of concepts from anatomy and physiology to massage practice and professional ethics. In order to register for the MBLEx, an individual must confirm that he or she has had education appropriate to the massage therapy profession. There is a $195 examination fee.

Both AMTA and AMMA provide members with professional liability insurance. Membership prices vary, depending on career stage.

Third Party Certifications

A graduate of an assigned school can eventually seek board certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork; some individuals may also be approved to test through a portfolio process.

Board certification is a relatively new credential with standards set higher than they were for previous NCBTMB certifications (http://www.ncbtmb.com/board-certification). The requirements are also set higher than what is required for licensing in many states; the credential was designed for an era where practitioners in most jurisdictions hold licensing but where some want to distinguish themselves from their peers who have met only state mandates.

A board certified massage therapist will ultimately need 750 hours of education, though the education does not all have to be completed as part of the original program. Additional hours may be earned through a college or university or through continuing education that has been approved by the NCBTMB.

Prospective certificate holders must pass the Board Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCETMB). The BCETMB requires candidates to apply their knowledge to scenarios that they might encounter in the professional world. The exam covers the following topics or themes:

  • Technique and application
  • Evaluation, treatment planning, and documentation
  • Law and ethics
  • Communication

Board certified massage therapists subscribe to a code of ethics. They agree to oppose human trafficking. They also go through a background check process. A massage therapist must practice at the professional level for a minimum six months before certification can be awarded; he or she must accrue 250 experience hours.

The initial board certification process costs $250. Fees must be paid before examination.

American Bodywork and Massage Professionals offers a more basic credential. In order to maintain the highest level of ABMP membership – and wear the title “ABMP Certified Massage Therapist” – a massage professional must complete an annual continuing education requirement (http://www.abmp.com/practitioners/faqs.php). Education/ examination requirements are the same as they are at the professional level: 500 hours of education or a passing score on the MBLEx.

Staying Current on Legislative Developments

There are groups working toward registering or licensing the state’s massage therapists. Professional organizations can help members stay current on developments. The American Massage Therapy Association posts legislative updates on a monthly basis (http://www.amtamassage.org/government/leg_briefing.html).

Vermont has its own chapter: AMT-Vermont (http://amta-vermont.org/wp/).