A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in North Dakota

North Dakota sets massage school standards high. Its requirement for total hours of educational programming is among the highest in the nation; the state is behind New York and Nebraska but on a par with Ohio. The higher contact hour requirement doesn’t mean that students will be in school longer. North Dakota allows students to take intensive programs and complete their coursework in a little less time than some states allow. Moreover, students around the country often select programs that exceed state mandates by as much as a few hundred hours. They want specialty massage coursework, experience in a student clinic, a few electives.

The safest way to meet North Dakota requirements is to enroll in a North Dakota school. The Board website lists four regional schools: two massage schools in Fargo, one massage school in Williston, and one massage school in Grand Forks (http://www.ndboardofmassage.com/educationceus-tab/). This is as of mid-2017.

Select a North Dakota Massage Therapy School Topic:

Massage School and Student Educational Standards

North Dakota massage therapy students receive at least 750 total hours of education and training (http://www.legis.nd.gov/information/acdata/html/49-02.html). Programs are variable in content, but must include a set number of hours in a number of content areas. Students can expect, at minimum, the following:

  • Anatomy, kinesiology, physiology: 150 hours
  • Pathology: 40 hours
  • Introductory massage therapy coursework: 130 hours
  • CPR and first aid: 10 hours
  • Practical application and clinical practice: 175 hours
  • Clinical practice: 75 hours
  • Professional ethics, career development, and business: 50 hours
  • Other directly related coursework: 120 hours

Introductory massage therapy coursework includes massage therapy theory, contraindications, sanitation, and disease prevention, as well as basic massage modalities and modalities considered “allied”. Practical instruction refers to the component of the course where prospective massage therapists practice on their fellow students; the time spent giving and receiving massages is both creditable. Students may practice on members of the public under supervision after completing at least 225 hours of classroom instruction and 150 hours of classroom-based practical experience. (For many students across the nation, the student clinic is a program highlight.)

A student who attends a North Dakota program can expect coursework to reflect current scientific knowledge – this requirement is set down in state administrative code. It’s not just the students who are held to high standards; it’s the schools as well. Students can generally expect that their massage therapy coursework will be taught by licensed and experienced massage therapists. Anatomy, physiology, and pathology coursework will not necessarily be taught by massage therapists but will be taught by professionals who hold degrees at the master's level – this is a more rigorous standard than what is on the books in many places.

A student may receive a college semester hour for 15 hours of lecture or 30 hours of practical work or clinical practice. The student may receive a quarter hour of college credit for 10 hours of lecture or 20 hours of practical or clinical work.

Massage Program Options

One of North Dakota’s programs is located at a state college. The other three are located in beauty colleges. The shortest option is approximately five months. Some options are eight or nine months. A student also has the option of spending eighteen months in school but coming away with an associate degree. A student who opts for an Associate of Applied Science will take some general education coursework. Currently, North Dakota AAS students graduate with 60 credit hours.

North Dakota schools boast various accreditations and approvals, for example, accreditation by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS). Current North Dakota programs are financial aid eligible. In most cases, gainful employment data is available for prospective students.

Some massage therapists distinguish themselves by seeking a second credential: national board certification. A person who plans to seek board certification will do well to select a program that has been assigned a code by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. A massage therapist who does not attend an “assigned school” may eventually achieve eligibility. However, this is granted only after portfolio review. Currently, North Dakota has just one assigned program; it is located in Fargo.

Although there are many assigned programs of 750 or more hours – this is the minimum for board certification -- a student who graduates from one of these programs cannot be assured that it will meet all standards for licensure in North Dakota. Some assigned programs, moreover, are shorter than 750 hours; students make up the difference through college coursework or approved continuing education.

Location will be a concern for some North Dakota residents. Some schools are able to connect out-of-town students with resources for housing and even childcare. Students who select the state college option in Williston may find student housing options.

Out-of-state massage therapy education can be reviewed by the North Dakota Board of Massage on a case-by-case basis. An applicant may need to meet additional requirements. The Board permits students to attend more than one school if the hours credited are not redundant. The transcript review form can be found on the Board website (http://www.ndboardofmassage.com/becomelicensed/).

Career Outlook and Average Salary

North Dakota massage therapists make a median hourly wage of $18.90 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm). In the greater Fargo metropolitan region, massage therapists earn a median hourly wage of $20.14. Job concentration (as figured by massage therapist jobs per thousand total jobs) is higher in the greater Fargo area as well; this metropolitan region includes a small portion of Minnesota. Statewide, massage therapist employment is projected to see an increase of 16.4% between 2014 and 2024.