A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapist License Requirements in Virginia

Virginia massage therapists are licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. They are credentialed on the basis of education and examination. Additionally, they must be at least eighteen years of age. The Board of Nursing advises massage therapist to check with their local jurisdiction to see if there are additional laws or regulations in place.

Select a Virginia Massage Therapy Certificate Topic:

Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

Virginia massage therapists must complete programs of at least 500 hours. A program may be approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (http://www.schev.edu/students/collegeListAlpha.asp) or by a comparable agency located in another U.S. state or territory.

The Board of Nursing does not maintain a list of state-approved massage therapy schools but instead directs prospective student to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). SCHEV can be reached by telephone at (804) 225-2600.

Examination Requirements for Initial Licensure

Virginia massage therapists must take an examination for initial licensure called the Licensing Examination of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. State regulations also note that an individual can be licensed on the basis of another examination if found "acceptable to the Board" (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_laws_regs.htm).

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards currently offers the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, or MBLEx (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=61). It is multiple choice. Before registering, candidates must read the content outline. The FSMTB does not require transcripts, though candidates who were educated internationally will need to have their eligibility confirmed by the Virginia Board before they will be allowed to test. There is a $195 fee. An approved candidate will receive an ATT; this grants a 90 day examination eligibility period. Examinations are scheduled through Pearson VUE.

Other examinations that may be found acceptable are 1) the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or 2) the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage.

The National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage are former offerings of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (http://www.ncbtmb.com/). They were last offered in early 2015. Information is available from the National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork, which can be reached by telephone at (800) 296-0664 or by email at ‘info at ncbtmb.org’.

The MBLEx is now computer adapted. Examinees receive scores between 300 and 900; 630 has been set as the minimum passing score. Score results are available to the candidate immediately after testing. The licensing agency will receive results electronically, generally within 24 hours of testing.

An individual who is waiting to take a qualifying examination may be issued a provisional certificate. This credential is valid for a maximum 90 days.

The Application Process

Prospective massage therapists can apply online through the Department of Health Professions website (https://www.license.dhp.virginia.gov/apply).

The licensing agency will need primary source verification of education. Generally, this means an official transcript. The Board has provided some advice to individuals whose schools have since closed (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_faq.htm#massage). If the transcript was previously submitted to a licensing agency or employer, it may be possible to obtain a copy from them. It is also possible the school is still operating under a different name. If the school is indeed closed, records may be in the hands of the accrediting agency. SCHEV has information about closed Virginia schools of massage; the agency has provided an online list of closed vocational schools with notations about where transcripts are housed (http://www.schev.edu/ClosedVocational.aspx).

Applicants must have completed a criminal history background check as required by § 54.1-3005.1 of the Code of Virginia. A criminal history will not necessarily mean that certification will be denied. Applicants with criminal backgrounds are advised to provide complete documentation. They are referred to the document “Impact of Criminal Convictions on Registration of Medication Aides and Certification of Massage Therapist in Virginia” (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_faq.htm#massage).

The fee for application and initial licensure is $140.

Practicing with a Provisional License

Once a candidate has submitted a completed application for licensure, he or she may provisionally practice massage therapy in Virginia up to 90 days with written authorization from the Board. The candidate may not use the title "massage therapist" or "licensed massage therapist" during this time of provisional practice. If the licensure exam is failed, the candidate may not continue provisional practice until the exam is retaken and passed.

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

An individual who is or has been licensed in another U.S. state or territory may be licensed by endorsement in Virginia. If the out-of-state massage therapist has a lapsed credential, he or she must be eligible for reinstatement. Endorsement requirements are described in 18VAC90-50-50 of state code (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_laws_regs.htm). The Virginia Board will require credential verification.

International Massage Therapists

Massage therapists who have held credentialing in foreign nations can be certified by examination in Virginia if they are judged to have met equivalent educational requirements.

Reinstatement

Virginia massage therapists whose credentials have lasped for more than one renewal period will need to apply for reinstatement. Applicants for reinstatement will need to verify that they have met continue competency requirements.

The reinstatement fee is currently listed as $150.

Reinstatement forms are available on the Board of Nursing website (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_forms.htm).

Additional Information

Information on massage therapist licensure is available from the Virginia Board of Nursing. The Board of Nursing can be reached at (804) 367-4515 or by email at ‘nursebd at dhp.virginia.gov’. Individuals can contact the Board of Nursing to request written materials.

Licensed Massage Therapists in Virginia must also complete continuing competency requirements and be aware of license renewal requirements as well as Disciplinary Provisions. These requirements can be found here: https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_laws_regs.htm

Candidates should be aware that rules change periodically. Massage therapist regulations were last revised in September of 2016. (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_laws_regs.htm).

The state’s professional association, the Virginia Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association, is not involved with the initial licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource (http://va.amtamassage.org).