A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in New York: Complete a program in less than one year

New York has some of the highest educational standards for massage therapists in the nation -- and some of the highest average wages. Students who go to massage therapy school in New York can expect some foundation in both Eastern and Western technique. They can also expect a little more “hard science” than their counterparts in some parts of the nation.

A prospective massage therapist can still complete a program in less than one year, even in New York. And he or she will not need a lot of prior education to enroll – a high school diploma is all it takes.

A massage therapy program located in New York is to be registered by the New York State Education Department. The Board has provided a list of license-qualifying programs (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtprogs.htm). The list released at the end of 2016 included 18 schools. Prospective students may get current information by conducting a search on the NYSED website. Individuals are asked to contact the State Board for Massage Therapy if a school does not appear on their list.

Select a New York Massage Therapy School Topic:

The New York Massage Therapy Curriculum

New York programs are at least 1,000 hours. They must meet minimum curriculum requirements set at a state level. Requirements for basic science coursework are set higher than they are in many states. Anatomy, physiology, and neurology will together comprise at least 200 hours. Of these, at least 50 hours will be in neurology. (The latter is a state-specific requirement.)

Additionally, programs will include 150 hours of kinesiology or myology. (State laws and codes frequently, though not universally, reference kinesiology; the mandate, though, is not typically set as high.)

New York programs include at least 100 hours of pathology – another generally expected topic nationwide and one that is frequently mandated, though not quite at the level New York requires.

At least 150 hours will consist of basic theory and techniques. Board rule stipulates that both Western and Oriental theory and technique be covered. A student can expect at least 50 hours devoted to each./

No fewer than 325 additional hours will consist of technique and practice. Of these, no fewer than 150 hours will consist of actual practice on human beings. Practice will take place under on-site supervision.

The remaining 75 mandated program hours will include topics such as hygiene and first aid. New York students can expect to get some instruction in a wide range of areas: from the chemical effects of the oils and powders that they may use to infection control procedures to recognition of patients who may suffer from abuse or neglect.

Massage Program Options

There is still room for unique content. While the Board stipulates that both Eastern and Western technique be covered, the balance between the two may well be different. Bodywork is made up of basic techniques such as ways of manipulating soft tissue or influencing crucial points within the body’s systems. From these basics, an ever increasing number of very specialized modalities have evolved. The individual program will make some choices about which modalities to cover in detail. Of course, there are also underlying philosophies and value systems which have a way of permeating instruction.

New York programs may or may not be assigned test codes through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork; the NCBTMB board certification exam is not utilized for licensing purposes. Nationwide, board certification is often thought of as representing a higher level of professional expertise. The total number of program hours necessary to achieve board certification is higher than it is in most states – but not higher than it is in New York. The NCBTMB sets minimum curricular standards lower in some content areas than New York does. The organization does, nonetheless, set some curricular mandates that the New York board does not. New York boasts nine assigned programs – that is, about half of its total programs.

Most New York massage therapy programs are members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). AMTA can often provide some basic information such as accreditation.

Out-of-State Massage Therapy Students: Making it in New York

The licensing agency can accept substantially equivalent programs. There are some schools in neighboring New Jersey that advertise meeting New York standards.

In some cases, individuals who have completed shorter programs elsewhere will need to take additional coursework in New York. If a person has completed a program of at least 500 hours, he or she has the option of applying for licensure in New York and letting the licensing agency determine what clock hours are needed. Making up these deficiencies will result in being eligible for New York licensing though the person will not earn a new diploma or degree. It is also an option to enroll in a license-qualifying program and actually earn a New York advanced certificate or degree. However, New York programs are limited in the number of hours they can credit. A person will not be able to transfer his or her entire past massage therapy program. The website of the licensing agency outlines options (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtquesans.htm).

If the person did not complete a program but took some coursework, a New York program may award some transfer credit However, this is not guaranteed.

Requirements for endorsement candidates will vary, depending on circumstances.

Beyond Therapeutic Massage School: Career Outlook and Average Salary

New York’s average salary places it second in the nation. The mean is $29.94 an hour. Of course there is a wide range of actual salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also provided information about what massage therapists are making at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles. Those at the 25th percentile statewide make $17.48; those at the 75th percentile, $41.69. The median is $28.06.

Two metropolitan areas are noted as being among the nation’s highest: Binghamton and the Nassau County-Suffolk County Metropolitan Division. Binghamton has a mean wage of $35.42 (median: $30.94). The Nassau County-Suffolk County area has a mean wage of $31.99 (median: $28.68). Those at the upper end of the salary-scale enjoy especially high hourly wages in these two locales; in the Nassau-Suffolk area, the 90th percentile wage is $59.74. The following is a list of median wages for New York and New York/ New Jersey metropolitan areas:

  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy $24.49
  • Rochester $28.80
  • Syracuse $28.43
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls $25.82
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains $26.91

New York State was projected to see massage therapist employment levels increase by 2,220 (or 29.1%) over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade.

The Board has provided information about where its licensees live, noting that the county listed does not necessarily indicate the one where the licensee practices. Notably, more than 10% of licensees have indicated primary addresses outside New York (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mt/mtcounts.htm).