Massage Therapy Standards and Reguations in Kansas
With the failure of HB 2123, the ‘Massage Therapy Licensure Act’, massage therapist practice remains an unlicensed profession in Kansas. Legislation has been introduced more than once. However, Kansas is one of only a few states where massage therapy is not regulated on a state level.
This does not mean that there are no standards. Some Kansas municipalities have their own regulations in place. Individuals who are not subject to licensing regulations can still seek out education and training that meets nationally recognized standards; they may even seek voluntary national certification. Professional organizations can help members stay informed of professional trends and of bills that may in the future impact their practice.
Select a Kansas Massage Therapy Topic:
- Massage Therapy Schools in Kansas
- Complying with Local Regulations on Massage Therapist Licensure
- Meeting Nationwide Educational Standards
- Voluntary Certifications and National Examinations
- Professional Resources
Complying with Local Regulations
It is important to recognize that some local municipalities set their own regulations. In Kansas, it is not the size of the city that determines whether a massage therapist will need a license to practice. Municipalities like Lenexa license massage therapists while some larger cities do not.
Requirements vary, even among those municipalities that license. Overland Park has standards on a par with many U.S. states. Licensees must have 500 hours of education related to the practice of massage therapy (opkansas.org/permits and licenses massage therapy license). Education is to include anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, pathology, hygiene, and first aid, as well as practical training in massage therapy. Prospective massage therapists must also pass a national examination such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).
Meeting Nationwide Educational Standards
Massage therapists can increase their options — including mobility — through education. Among the factors to consider: total program length, curriculum, and accreditations and approvals.
States typically require at least 500 hours of education; some set the standard higher. It is common to require a minimum number of hours in particular subjects. Many states, for example, require 100 to 125 hours of coursework in anatomy, physiology, and/or kinesiology.
National agencies also set minimums. The Kansas Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports that an unlicensed/ uncertified massage therapist must enroll in a 500 hour massage therapy program in order to be eligible for AMTA membership (amta-ks.org/index faq).
School-level accreditation or approval is often central to acceptance of education. If the school is nationally accredited through an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, it can be considered legitimate (ope.ed.gov accreditation). Approval by a state agency such as a council of post-secondary education may be sufficient.
The curriculum should also meet nationally recognized standards. A prospective student will know that a massage therapy program has gone through a discipline-specific review process if it has been assigned a code by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork; this code is also key to eligibility for a prestigious national certification.
If a program is accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Education, it has gone through a rigorous review process. COMTA has set the minimum program hours higher: 600.
Programs that are not COMTA-accredited and have not been assigned codes by the NCBTMB may still enjoy AMTA approval. AMTA has provided an online tool to search for approved programs (amtamassage.org/schools).
Voluntary Certifications and National Examinations
There are multiple voluntary certifications. Certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) may be considered a gold standard. The certification process has recently become more rigorous. In order to be Board Certified, one must complete at least 750 hours of education (https://www.ncbtmb.org/certificants/). Continuing education is creditable; professionals who have graduated from 500 hour NCBTMB-approved programs can pursue additional training to make themselves eligible. Board Certification is not awarded until after a massage therapist has practiced legally at the professional level and accrued at least 250 experience hours. Examination is another requirement. The Board Certified massage therapist must also pursue CPR certification, undergo a background check, agree to abide by the NCMTMB Code of Ethics, and affirm opposition to human trafficking.
The NCBTMB previously awarded National Certification; many massage therapists still hold the lower credential. Individuals who hold current National Certification can earn Board Certification by meeting additional requirements. The NCMTMB has provided a list of frequently asked questions for professionals who are interested in making the transition (https://www.ncbtmb.org/certificants/).
The American Medical Massage Therapy Association also offers certification examinations, albeit with a slightly different focus (americanmedicalmassage.com ncerequirements). Individuals applying for the National Certification Agency (NBCA) Massage Therapy Certification Exam, Level 1 are expected to have 600 total hours of training with 300 hours of training in scientifically based massage therapy, orthopedic assessment, and restorative and corrective applications.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) offers an examination for individuals who have completed 500 hours of training in the related/ overlapping field of Asian bodywork (nccaom.org). Some states, including neighboring Missouri, accept the exam as a license-qualifying massage therapy examination.
While Kansas massage therapists do not have a state licensing board, they may become members of professional organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association. Nationwide, AMTA has been instrumental in passing legislation as well as keeping members informed. The national organization regularly publishes legislative updates (amtamassage.org/government leg briefing). Kansas massage therapists can also become active in the Kansas Chapter (https://ks.wp.amtamassage.org/).
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is another professional resource (abmp.com/). Members enjoy liability insurance. ABMP is also a source of state-specific news.
Professional organizations set education and ethics standards for their members. Professional level membership can be considered a credential.