Massage Therapy Licensure in Illinois

Illinois massage therapists are under the jurisdiction of the Massage Therapy Board. Massage therapists must be at least eighteen years of age and must provide evidence of good moral character. They must meet education and examination requirements set by the state.

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Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

Illinois massage therapists must have preliminary education at at least the high school level; a GED is acceptable. The student must complete at least 600 hours of massage therapy education; this represents an increase over years past. An individual who completed a program of fewer than 600 hours may need to complete additional coursework prior to licensure.

Programs are to include coursework in three content areas. The first content area includes anatomy and physiology, pathology, and kinesiology. The second includes massage theory, techniques, and practice. The third is comprised of other content identified by the Board, including benefits and contraindications, history, professional standards, universal precautions, body mechanics, legalities and business, client data collection, documentation, and therapeutic relations and communications. Students are expected to earn grades of at least 70% in their massage therapy coursework.

Illinois programs must meet standards delineated in Section 1284.20 of Title 68 ( admin code). Out-of-state programs are to have similar standards. They must be authorized by the appropriate agency in their own state.

An individual who is unable to provide sufficient documentation that Illinois standards have been met may be asked to appear before the Board.

Massage Therapist Examination Requirement

The prospective massage therapist will need to pass an approved examination. Multiple examinations may be accepted. State rules reference examinations offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

The examination in current use nationwide as a licensing examination is the FSMTB’s Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). It is offered in multiple choice format in English and Spanish. Prospective massage therapists may mail their registration or submit it online ( application requirements). They will need to pay $195. Once approved, they will schedule through Pearson VUE. Examinations are offered on an ongoing basis. Examination results are provided free of charge to one state licensing agency; this generally happens very soon after testing. The FSMTB has provided a candidate bulletin that must be read prior to application.

The NCBTMB offers a Board Certification examination. It is not intended to be taken for licensing purposes but rather as part of a rigorous supplemental certification process. A Board Certification candidate will need to meet additional requirements imposed by the NCBTMB ( The NCBTMB has set educational requirements somewhat higher than the Illinois Board, and certification will not actually be awarded until the massage therapist has accrued 250 practice hours at the professional (or licensed) level.

The NCBTMB has offered other certification examinations in the past. Customer service can be reached by telephone at 1-800-296-0664 or by email at ‘info at’.

Background Check Requirements

Illinois requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks. Fingerprints are to be made prior to application, but within 60 days.

In-state applicants are to have their fingerprints made electronically through a licensed vendor. The Department of Financial & Professional Regulation has provided a list ( License Look Up fingerprintlist).

Out-of-state applicants may have their fingerprints made on traditional cards. The out-of-state applicant is directed to call 800-560-6420 or send an email to the Department to request an Illinois State Police fingerprint card. Fingerprints can be made by a police department located in the applicant’s state of residence. The applicant will then mail the card to the Illinois Police Department. The applicant will include a certifying statement that he or she has completed this step; the required form is included in the application packet.

The Application Process

Application materials are available from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation ( Massage Therapy).

Application packets include certification of education forms; these are to be filled out by a school official. The purpose is to document that Illinois coursework requirements were met. In some cases, transcripts may be accepted in lieu of the form. However, the Massage Therapy Board will request additional information if insufficient detail has been provided.

Each application must be accompanied by a $175 fee; fees are nonrefundable.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation may issue a license or pass the application on to the Massage Therapy Board to determine eligibility.

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

Massage therapists who hold, or have held, licensing in other states are required to submit ‘Certification by Licensing Agency/Board’ forms or other equivalent documentation that may be provided by the out-of-state agency. The applicant will need to submit forms from both the original and current state of licensure, if different.

Out-of-state massage therapists may be licensed by endorsement or by acceptance of examination. In either case, they will need to provide evidence that they have met requirements at the level Illinois requires.

Documents that are in a language other than English must be accompanied by certified translation.

Rule Variances

The Board may consider granting variances in cases where no statute would be violated ( jcar admin code).

Additional Information

Massage therapy licensing information is available from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation ( profs Massage Therapy). Applicants with questions may call 1-800-560-6420.

The American Massage Therapy Association-Illinois Chapter is not directly involved with the licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource ( AMTA-Illinois has provided answers to frequently asked questions about the licensing process (

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