A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the ‘grandfathering period’ for massage therapy licensing has ended. If a person is going to be a massage therapist, he or she needs approved education! Oklahoma has set educational requirements at what is often considered a minimum national standard; the state is not as specific about required courses as some states are. There are options, though, to go well above the stated standards. Massage therapy schools, after all, didn’t begin in Oklahoma when licensing did. Some go back a long time – and some have the “stamp of approval” from multiple national organizations as well as from their own students.

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Massage Therapy Educational Standards in Oklahoma

Prospective massage therapists must complete training programs of no fewer than 500 hours. Among the minimum standards: massage therapy education must come from a state-approved school. This is the standard just about everywhere. A starting place for Oklahoma students is the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools, or OBPVS (http://obpvs.ok.gov/students). On the OBPVS site, one can find a list of licensed schools; the list includes some very basic information, such as whether the school is accredited. Oklahoma, like most states, views accreditation as less fundamental than state approval. The latter can offer advantages, however. Some Oklahoma schools are accredited by organizations such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSCT).

What is actually offered in Oklahoma? Many things! Programs cover fundamentals like anatomy, massage benefits and contraindications, basic techniques -- and a variety of modalities, Eastern and Western. They give students a chance to practice their technique. Prospective massage therapists also learn career-building skills. Some programs exceed minimum standards by a long shot. One school offers both a 750-hour program and a 900-hour program.

Massage schools know that many would-be practitioners are busy adults. There are day and evening options.

Looking to National Standard Setters

Prospective students may want to look to national standard setting organizations. These have ‘clout’ in some locations and sometimes set their standards higher than licensing bodies. National organizations don't grant authorization to practice, but they can grant well-respected credentials; sometimes mobility is also enhanced.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is a well-known name in the massage therapy industry. Now that almost the entire nation has gone to mandatory licensing, NCBTMB certification has morphed into an adjunct credential, one that is designed to reflect a higher level of expertise than just licensing. Oklahoma boasts four assigned schools. There are multiple requirements for becoming a board certified massage therapist. Some, of course, center on education. In most cases, a person will need to complete a program that has been assigned a test code by the NCBTMB. The prospective certificate holder will need to demonstrate at least 750 total hours of approved education. Some of the hours can be earned through approved continuing education. Oklahoma boasts several NCBTMB-approved continuing education providers. There are opportunities to go into depth in deep tissue techniques for different parts of the body. Some coursework is available in large blocks and may even result in an additional certification. Students can opt for short courses in complementary practices like aromatherapy – or even the raindrop technique. Whether one opts to specialize in providing targeted therapeutic services or creating the ultimate spa experience, there are opportunities not so far from home!

NCBTMB-assigned schools must provide a curriculum that includes specified hours in fundamental content areas. The minimum is 125 hours of coursework in anatomy and other body systems; 40 hours of coursework in pathology; 200 hours of hands-on instruction in theory, assessment and practice; and 10 hours in business and ethics. All these requirements can be met through a 500-hour program, though programs are often 750 hours or more.

NCBTMB coursework requirements provide some idea of what is typically expected with regard to massage therapy curriculum – some states, though, do set their coursework requirements higher, and some get very specific about what must be included.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Oklahoma may not have as many massage therapists as the average state, but the number is going up. In fact, employment levels are expected to increase at a rate a little above the national average: 23.7% between 2014 and 2024.

Oklahoma’s massage therapists enjoy a median hourly wage of $18.06. 80% make between $11.24 and $32.76 an hour. Just 10% of the state’s massage therapists make below $11.24; the 10th percentile wage (sometimes thought of as an entry-level figure) is a little higher in Oklahoma than in the nation as a whole, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average salaries are higher in Tulsa than Oklahoma City (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm). In Tulsa, the median is listed as $26.24. 80% make between $12.75 and $36.09. Just 10% fall below this range; another 10% are above. In Oklahoma City, the median is $16.70. 10% have hourly wages below $9.85. Another 10% earn more than $31.62 – in Oklahoma City, too, there are opportunities for savvy practitioners.

Nationwide, salary is influenced by work setting as well as geographic setting. It may help to peruse job postings. The following is a sampling from 2017: A small business offering massage and salon treatments advertised $15 to $24 an hour for a part-time practitioner. An integrative health center advertised $28 an hour. A university wellness center advertised rates of $30 to $35 for experienced practitioners.

It is common around the nation for massage therapists to be in business. Specialized healthcare? Spas or resorts? Self-employment? The initial education program can be an opportunity to begin tailoring one’s experiences toward their dream setting.