Massage Therapy Licensure in Florida
Florida massage therapists are licensed by the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. Prospective massage therapists must complete qualifying education or apprenticeship programs and pass licensing examinations.
Individuals who opt for apprenticeship will apply first at the apprentice level. In order to be eligible for licensing at either level, they must have either reached the age of eighteen or earned high school diplomas or GEDs.
Select a Florida Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:
- Find Massage Therapy Schools Near You
- Massage Therapist Education Requirements in Florida
- Examination Requirements
- Reciprocity for Out-of-State Massage Therapists
- Background Check Requirements
- Internationally Educated Applicants
- Application Process (Forms and Materials)
- Contacts for the Board and Professional Associations
- Massage Schools in Florida
Education Requirements for Licensed Massage Therapists
Prospective Florida massage therapists may enroll in Board-approved educational programs or apprenticeship programs. There are separate requirements for each.
Educational Programs: Educational programs may be approved by the Florida Department of Education or by a comparable agency in another state. Approved programs include at least 500 hours of study (floridasmassagetherapy.gov licensing).
The Florida Board has provided a list of Florida-approved programs, along with their examination pass rates (floridasmassagetherapy.gov/education and training programs).
Approved educational programs include the following curriculum:
- Anatomy and physiology: 150 hours
- Massage theory and history: 100 hours
- Allied modalities: 76 hours
- Clinical practicum: 125 hours
- Hydrotherapy: 15 hours
- Business: 15 hours
- Professional ethics: 4 hours
- Florida laws and rules: 10 hours
- Medical errors: 2 hours
- HIV/ AIDS: 3 hours
The student is to complete no more than six hours of classroom study per day and no more than 30 per calendar week.
Apprenticeship Programs: A massage therapy apprentice must have a sponsor who has practiced for at least three years (floridasmassagetherapy.gov/licensing massage apprentice). The massage therapy establishment must meet requirements delineated in administrative code. It must have textbooks and teaching materials on the following subjects: anatomy, physiology, massage theory, massage-related laws and rules, and hydrotherapy.
Apprenticeships last 12 to 24 months and cover the following content:
- Anatomy: 300 hours
- Physiology: 300 hours
- Massage theory and history: 20 hours
- Hydrotherapy theory and practice: 50 hours
- Statutes and rules regulating massage practice: 25 hours
- Introduction to allied modalities: 50 hours
- Hygiene: 5 hours
- Board-approved HIV/ AIDS training: 3 hours
- Practical massage: 700 hours
Of the above requirements, the following must be completed within the first quarter:
- Anatomy: 100 hours
- Physiology: 100 hours
- Statutes and rules: 15 hours
Apprentices are subject to quarterly reports.
First-time massage therapists are licensed by examination. Individuals can qualify by taking the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam, or MBLEx. The MBLEx is a multiple choice, computer-adapted examination, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). It is available in both English and Spanish. Florida administrative code specifically states that it is acceptable to take an approved massage therapy examination in Spanish.
Candidates will find information bulletins and registration materials on the FSMTB website (www.fsmtb.org/). Approved examinees can schedule at Pearson Vue computerized assessment centers. The Florida Board notes that examinations are available six days a week.
Additionally, the Florida Board will accept several examinations that were in the past offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Accepted examinations include the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), and the National Exam for State Licensure (NESL). The NCETM and NCETB were last offered in early 2015.
Massage therapists may be endorsed into Florida on the basis of having taken NCMTMB or MBLEx examinations in the past. The examination form asks applicants to list all licensing examinations they have taken.
The Background Check Process
Applicants must have state and federal background checks carried out by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
In-state candidates are to have their fingerprints made electronically at approved Livescan fingerprinting sites. They can visit the Department of Health website for a list of providers (floridahealth.gov/licensing regulation background screening livescan service providers).
Applicants who live in areas where Livescan service is not available are directed to contact Florida Livescan providers about converting ‘hard cards’ into electronic cards. The provider page of the DOH website notes which agencies are able to provide this service.
The Livescan provider will need the Originating Agency Identification (ORI) number; this can be found on the licensing page and in the application packet.
Out-of-State Massage Therapists
Out-of-state licensees can be endorsed into Florida on the basis of equivalent requirements met in other jurisdictions.
Endorsement candidates will need to complete the following coursework through an approved school or continuing education provider:
- Prevention of medical errors: 2 hours
- HIV/AIDS: 3 hours
- Florida laws and rules: 10 hours
Internationally Educated Applicants
Individuals who were educated outside the United States can be be licensed by examination in Florida provided that certain requirements are met (floridasmassagetherapy.gov/licensed massage therapist lmt by examination). The massage school must be approved in its own jurisdiction by an equivalent licensing agency. Documents that are in a language other than English require translation. The Board notes that it may be necessary to have credentials evaluated by a credential evaluation agency. International educational documents are reviewed at Board meetings.
The Application Process
Application materials and instructions can be downloaded from the Board website (floridasmassagetherapy.gov licensing). Individuals also have the option of applying online.
Applicants who graduated from schools outside Florida but will need to send their school a transcript request form. The school will fill out the form and submit it to the licensing agency, along with documentation of program approval and the requested transcript. (The form, available in the application packet, documents requirements that may not be shown on the transcript.)
The Florida Board requires license verification from every state where the applicant has held a health-related license. Verification is to be come directly from the licensing agency, whether mailed or sent electronically.
Applicants who answer “yes” to questions about health conditions that could impair practice will need to provide recent letter(s) from health professionals. They are also asked to provide their own explanations of condition and status.
Applicants with disciplinary or criminal history are asked to provide, in addition to official documents and self-explanation, three recent letters of recommendation. The application packet includes a criminal conviction self-report form.
Massage therapist applicants currently pay $155 with their applications. All but $50 is refundable in cases where an application is withdrawn or licensure is denied.
Applicants can choose to receive status notifications by email.
The Florida Board of Massage Therapy can be reached by email at ‘info at floridasmassagetherapy.gov’. The Customer Contact Center can be reached at (850) 488-0595; office hours are weekdays from 8:00 to 6:00. General questions can be sent by email contact form (floridasmassagetherapy.gov/help center contact).
The Board can consider variances or waivers of administrative rule, but not state statute (floridasmassagetherapy.gov/massage therapy faqs).
The Florida State Massage Therapy Association is the state professional association; it is also the nation’s oldest massage therapy professional organization (www.fsmta.org/). FSMTA is not directly involved with the licensing process, but helps its members stay current (www.fsmta.org/about/).