A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in New Jersey: A Mandatory Step Toward Licensure

A new law was instituted in New Jersey in 2017, makes it mandatory for new massage therapy licensees to have both education and examination. The state is ready. There are many massage therapy schools in New Jersey that are delivering education that meets -- and in some cases far exceeds – the state’s standards. They have been in operation far longer than the current law. Some are recognized on a national level.

Select a New Jersey Massage Therapy School Topic:

New Jersey Massage Therapy Program Standards

Massage therapy programs must be authorized to operate. There are multiple agencies that have the authority to approve New Jersey schools:

  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • New Jersey Commission on Higher Education

An out-of-state program can be considered on the basis of approval by an agency that has at least substantially similar requirements to those of the New Jersey Department of Education.

A New Jersey massage therapy program will include at least 500 total hours. It must include at least 90 combined hours of anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. The student will need 100 hours of supervised practice under an appropriately credentialed faculty member.

Other required content areas include theory and practice and ethics and law. The final identified content area is massage- and bodywork-related electives. (This means that programs within New Jersey can be varied – even the shorter ones.

New Jersey' educational standards are in many ways modest. Many states set requirements for basic sciences like anatomy and physiology higher. Some set total requirements higher. Many states, however, do not have the 100 hour practice mandate. This is one reason that students who are considering attending anything other than an in-state New Jersey school will need to do their homework -- if they plan to seek initial licensure here.

New Jersey Massage Therapy Program Options

Sometimes schools offer multiple tracks. One New Jersey school offers four; one focuses on oncology massage while another combines massage therapy and personal training. Another school offers students the opportunity to earn an in-house reflexology certificate. Notably, some of these programs are well above the minimum 500 hours. A 500-hour program allows room for some electives. It may, for example, provide some exposure to neuromuscular or sports massage or to bodywork modalities that rely on energy systems and use only light touch. It may also provide some training in providing those little extras that create a memorable spa experience. There will be some limits, however, on breadth and depth of content.

Electives may or may not be left to the discretion of the enrolled student. Sometimes the selection is at the school level. Coursework may reflect the school’s guiding philosophy. Students can decide whether they want to consider disharmony under a Chinese five elements model, integrative wellness from an Ayuverdic perspective… or focus solely on modern Western medicine.

For those who do want a comprehensive program and a significant amount of college credit, it is an option to earn an associate’s degree.

Some New Jersey programs are 1,000 hours or more, in part, because of New Jersey’s proximity to New York. (New York is one of just two states in the nation that sets its educational requirement at 1,000 hours.)

New Jersey programs may hold national accreditation through organizations such as the following:

  • Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

Some have even won honors like the School of ACCSC Excellence Award.

Some massage therapists seek an additional voluntary credential through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Completion of an NCBTMB-assigned program facilitates the process. New Jersey has a dozen assigned schools (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school). Candidate who opt for board certification will eventually need to meet a steeper educational requirement: 750 hours. There are multiple options for those whose initial programs were shorter. College and university coursework are creditable. Continuing education is creditable if the provider is approved by the NCBTMB.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

New Jersey's massage therapists make a median $19.24 an hour, very near the national average. 80% of the state's massage therapists make between $12.50 and $37.52. 10%, though, are above this figure and another 10% are below.

The highest average salaries in the state are in the Trenton and Ocean City areas; median hourly wages are $25.16 and $23.02, respectively. Several New Jersey cities have 10th percentile wages well above the national 10th percentile wage of $9.48; this may bode well for some who are at the early stages of their career. In Trenton, the 10th percentile wage is $16.65; in Ocean City, $15.00; in Camden, $14.20. It is in the Trenton and Newark areas that wages at the 90th percentile are most impressive: $43.03 and $40.27 respectively.

New Jersey has been projected to see 21.9% massage therapist occupational growth between 2014 and 2024; this would entail going from a base of 7,150 practitioners up to 8,710.

The Atlantic City/ Hammonton area ranks seventh out of all metropolitan areas in the nation with regard to massage therapist job concentration. The state as a whole is somewhat above the norm in this area (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm).