A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Wyoming

Laramie County has long licensed massage therapists. In much of Wyoming, however, massage therapy remains an unlicensed profession. What can prospective Wyoming massage therapists do to establish legitimacy, besides determine whether their own cities or counties have regulations in place?

The American Massage Therapy Association notes four types of credentials that a massage therapist may possess (http://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/credential.html). Three of the four may be attained by practitioners in unlicensed states. They can pursue education through accredited schools, become members of professional organizations, and ultimately seek board certification.

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Massage Therapist Education Foundations

While some massage therapists are trained as apprentices, massage therapy education is the typical foundation. Most states require 500 to 600 hours of qualifying education, though some set the standard as high as 1,000 (http://www.massagetherapy.com/_content/careers/MTreg.pdf). National organizations, too, tend to set 500 hours as the minimum. WY [R] SF 86, which in early 2015 failed to make it out of committee, would have required new practitioners to either demonstrate 500 hours of education or pass an examination (http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt?report=55143fe04f&sid=&Report.workflow=tracking). It remains to be seen what provisions will be in place at such time as Wyoming passes a licensing bill.

Wyoming does not have a state licensing agency that approves massage therapy programs. However, there are still organizations that provide oversight. Some Wyoming programs are accredited through accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Some enjoy approval by, or institutional membership through, massage therapy organizations. Wyoming has two massage therapy programs that are members of the American Massage Therapy Association, or AMTA (https://www.amtamassage.org/schools/results.html?q=&l=wyoming&searchcat=schools). It has one program that has been assigned a code by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or NCBTMB. Both AMTA members and NCBTMB-assigned schools include at least 500 hours of instruction. NCBTMB schools must meet published curriculum standards (http://www.ncbtmb.com/schools/assigned-schools). They include at least 200 hours of hands-on instruction in an in-person setting.

Professional Memberships and Certifications

Professional association membership can confer some legitimacy to practice. Both AMTA and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) have educational standards in place for members. To be an ABMP member at the professional level, an individual must either complete 500 hours of massage therapy education, or pass the MBLEx, a national licensing examination (http://www.abmp.com/practitioners/membership_options_and_costs.php). To become a graduate member of AMTA, one must have graduated (or be approaching graduation) from a 500 hour program; student members must be enrolled in one (http://www.amtamassage.org/membership/join-membership-package-chapter.html?mode=membershipselect)

Professional association membership can also provide liability insurance: one of the requirements for eventual board certification.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the standard for voluntary credentialing. In an age where most U.S. states do require licensing, the NCBTMB has upped certification standards to where NCBTMB credentialing represents, in many cases, a higher standard. The NCBTMB requires fully 750 hours (or the equivalent) for its new board certification (http://www.ncbtmb.com/board-certification). Up to 250 hours of qualifying education may be taken after the qualifying certificate program. However, if the school does not have an NCBTMB code, the candidate cannot establish eligibility through the traditional educational pathway. He or she may eventually be eligible through portfolio review.

Certification candidate takes an examination known as the Board Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or BCETMB (http://www.ncbtmb.org/take-board-certification-exam). Candidates are eligible to sit for the exam as soon as they have graduated. Once approved, they can schedule through Pearson VUE.

Board certification candidates agree to uphold NCBTMB practice standards and code of ethics and to oppose human trafficking. Additional requirements include going through a background check process and earning CPR certification through the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or American Safety and Health Institute.

A massage therapist must accrue at least 250 hours of experience before board certification is awarded. According to the newest version of the candidate handbook, a candidate has up to two years to fulfill the work experience and educational requirements.

The board certification process costs $250. Candidates who need to go through the portfolio review process incur additional fees. A link to a candidate handbook is found on the "tools for board certification" section of the website (http://www.ncbtmb.com/board-certification).

A massage therapist in an unregulated jurisdiction who does not yet qualify for board certification may want to wear the ABMP Certified Massage Therapist title; in addition to meeting educational requirements at the professional level, an AMBP member at the "certified" level must do 16 hours of continuing education during each two year period. Prospective massage therapists should be aware, though, that ABMP is nationally recognized as a professional organization not a certifying agency. AMBP certification does not carry the same weight as NCBTMB certification.

Staying Current

By visiting the website of the American Massage Therapy Association, a prospective massage practitioner can stay current on legislation that may, in the future, impact practice (http://www.amtamassage.org/government/leg_briefing.html).

Wyoming has its own state chapter, AMTA-Wyoming (http://www.amtawyomingchapter.org). The AMTA-Wyoming website includes contact information for organizational leaders (http://www.amtawyomingchapter.org/board).