A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Arkansas

In order to be licensed as a massage therapist in Arkansas, an individual must meet state-specific educational requirements and pass a series of examinations. Arkansas also mandates background and health screenings.

There are multiple levels of credentialing. After accruing work experience and completing additional continuing education, a massage therapist can apply for a license upgrade.

Arkansas Massage Therapists are currently licensed by the State Board of Health and the Arkansas Department of Health. In 2015, there is a bill in the legislature that would transfer massage therapy regulation to the State Board of Health and the Department of Health.

Update: On April 6, 2015 Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law Act 1020 of 2015. Act 1020 abolishes the Arkansas State Board of Massage Therapy. All powers are transfered to the State Board of Health and the Arkansas Department of Health. The Act also established the Massage Therapy Technical Advisory Committee.

Select an Arkansas Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

Sections 6 and 18 of Act 1020 establish the curriculum for postsecondary schools.

The foundation for a massage therapy career is a high school diploma or GED.

The prospective therapist must also complete a massage therapy program of at least 500 hours; education must be pursued through a State-approved or Board-accepted school.

Schools operating within Arkansas are subject to state regulation; they are inspected annually. The Board has provided a list of Arkansas-approved schools (http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/massage-schools-examinations)

Individuals educated out-of-state will need to provide evidence of having met Arkansas curricular standards. Arkansas mandates 175 hours of education in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and contraindications and 225 hours of education in massage therapy technique. Additionally, a student must have 25 hours in each of the following:

  • Hygiene and infection control
  • Hydrotherapy, heliotherapy, and electrotherapy
  • Law, professional ethics, and business management, as they relate to massage therapy practice

The remaining 25 hours are to be in other related subjects as approved by the Board.

Examination Requirements

Arkansas professionals can expect to take two examinations en route to licensure: a content examination and a jurisprudence examination. According to state regulation, the Board may administer its own examination or may accept the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) in combination with a state-specific test of laws and rules; currently the Board is doing the latter.

The application form references two additional options for content examination: the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB) Exams. These examinations were offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) until February of 2015; the NCBTMB now offers the NCBTMB Board Certification Examination as one part of a rigorous Board Certification process (http://www.ncbtmb.com/board-certification). The current application pre-dates the transition. Individuals may contact the NCBTMB about score reports and/ or certification. The NCTBM can be reached at 800-296-0664 or ‘info at ncbtmb.org’.

Candidates seeking to take the MBLEx for state licensure can typically be approved for examination within five business days of application. They will receive examination scheduling information at that stage. Examinations are scheduled through Pearson VUE at sites throughout the nation. Applications are available on the website of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (https://www.fsmtb.org/). Candidates must read the candidate bulletin before submitting their registration. They should be prepared to remit $195. The FSMTB has provided a MBLEx-specific telephone number: 866-962-3926. Candidates also have the option of emailing ‘mblex at fsmtb.org’.

The Arkansas Law Exam may be taken at the Board Office in Little Rock. The application lists current availability as Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 9:00 and 3:00. Prospective massage therapists should call the Board to schedule.

Candidates will take the qualifying massage therapy examination prior to application. They may take the state law examination afterward. The fee for the law examination is included among the fees that are paid at the time of application; retakes will incur an additional $25 fee.

Background Check and Medical Requirements

Arkansas requires criminal background checks carried out by the Identification Bureau of the Department of Arkansas State Police.

Applicants must also be checked for tuberculosis and found negative.

The Application Process

Application forms are available for download from the Board website (http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/massage-therapy). The application includes detailed instructions.

The Arkansas Board will require evidence of qualifying education. The applicant should include the massage therapy transcript and diploma as well as one of the following: high school or college transcript or diploma, GED.

Out-of-state candidates must provide transcripts with detailed course description.

The licensing agency will also need to see social security card and photo ID.

TB test results may be provided on letterhead or through a clinic form or health card.

Applicants who answer “yes” to criminal history or other background questions will need to attach details.

Applicants who hold, or have held, licensing in another jurisdiction will need to provide license verification. The form inquires about the state’s licensing regulations as well as the current status of the applicant’s credential. Verification forms are available for download from the Board website.

The total fee is $180. This includes a $75 application fee, $80 license fee, and $25 law examination fee. The Board does not accept personal checks.

Master Massage Therapists

An Arkansas massage therapist may receive the designation “Master Massage Therapist” after two years of licensure and practice. The massage therapist will need to have accrued at least 250 hours of practical experience and completed at least 125 hours of continuing education. A massage therapist who applies for an upgrade at the time of renewal will need to document 18 hours for renewal and 125 hours for upgrade.

Additional Information

Questions should be directed to Kelli Kersey, kelli.kersey@arkansas.gov

Arkansas Department of Health