A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Alaska

With the passage of House Bill 328, Alaska joins approximately 45 other states in regulating the massage therapy profession. Massage practitioners in some parts of the state (for example, Anchorage and Fairbanks) already work under licenses. Beginning July 1, 2015, massage therapy will be a licensed profession throughout the state of Alaska.

The licensing mandate will be delayed for massage practitioners who are already working in the state and who hold credentialing through an approved third party. The Commission of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development reports, though, that even these practitioners must hold state licenses by July 1, 2017.

HB 328 provides the statutory basis and sets basic requirements. The Alaska Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (the state’s professional organization) has worked with local governments to establish a State Board, which was appointed February 20, 2015.

Alaska massage therapists may be licensed by examination or endorsement.

Select an Alaska Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

License by Examination

Massage therapists who are new to the profession will be licensed by examination (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardofMassageTherapists/FAQs.aspx). The license by examination process includes two main components: education and examination.

Education: A prospective massage therapist will need to complete at least 500 hours of education through an approved massage therapy school. State statute defines “approved massage therapy school” as one that has been authorized by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education or comparable out-of-state organization or that holds accreditation through a nationally recognized agency.

The Board discussed accrediting agencies at their first meeting (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardofMassageTherapists.aspx). A motion was made to approve the following: the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Associated Bodywork and Massage Practitioners (ABMP), the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

State statute also allows for the possibility of licensure by examination following completion of an approved apprenticeship program.

Applicants for license by examination will also need to have four hours of safety training; this must include coverage of blood borne pathogens/ universal precautions.

Examination: The Board has approved examinations offered by two organizations: the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

By agreement between the two credentialing organizations, the FSMTB is now the sole organization that provides an examination designed for initial massage therapy licensure or entry-level practice. The FSMTB examination, the MBLEx, is accepted in most states. It is multiple choice. Candidates may submit applications online or through the mail; registration must be accompanied by a $195 fee. The Authorization to Test (ATT) grants a 90 day eligibility window (https://www.fsmtb.org/). Examinations are scheduled at Pearson Vue testing centers around the nation; there is a testing center located in Anchorage.

The NCBTMB (http://www.ncbtmb.org/) offers the Board Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCETMB). It is designed as one component of a Board Certification process intended for experienced practitioners. The NCBTMB has offered other examinations in the past. A prospective Alaska massage therapist may want to seek clarification about whether all NCBTMB examinations are accepted for licensure.

License by Endorsement

License by endorsement can be based on state licensure or on certification that is acceptable to the Board. The out-of-state license must be in good standing.

Transitioning to Licensing

Current massage therapists may be licensed without meeting all education and examination requirements.

There are multiple requirements for transitional licensing. The first is to provide evidence of having operated, owned, or worked for a massage business prior to the effective date. The licensing agency will accept multiple forms of documentation including municipal licenses, professional association memberships, copies of income tax returns, or sworn statements by employers. A massage therapist who uses income tax records will need to document employment or ownership during only one of the five years preceding the July 1, 2015 effective date. A massage therapist who uses an employer statement must document that the employment took place during the five year period preceding July 1, 2015. Professional association membership can be accepted if the organization was established before 2000, has a code of ethics, and offers liability insurance as a membership benefit; the member will need to have been active for at least one year. Municipal licenses can be license qualifying if they were held on June 30, 2015.

Additionally, the massage therapist must hold national certification unless he or she is licensed in another state on the basis of requirements at least on a par with those of Alaska.

Additional Requirements: CPR Certification and Criminal Background Checks

The minimum age for licensure is 18.

All prospective massage therapists will need to complete CPR certification and clear criminal background checks; this is the case regardless of the method of licensure.

The fingerprint-based background check will be carried out by the Alaska Department of Public Safety. A criminal history will not preclude licensure in all instances. However, crimes that are considered to involve “moral turpitude” are disqualifying. State statute does allow the Board to use discretion in licensing an individual who has been convicted of such a crime if it is determined that the circumstances are such that the professional is capable of safe, competent practice.

Application Information

Applicants will find the required forms on the website of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardofMassageTherapists.aspx).

Additional Information

The new Alaska Board of Massage Therapists is found on the web at http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardofMassageTherapists.aspx. Minutes are posted online. The Licensing Examiner can be reached by telephone at (907) 465-3811. Questions can be directed to 'license at alaska.gov'

The Alaska Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is an additional resource. AMTA-Alaska served as the state's official contact pending establishment of the new Board (http://www.akamta.com/massage-licensing).