Massage Therapy Licensure in Kentucky

Kentucky massage therapists are credentialed by the Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy. They are licensed on the basis of education and examination. The minimum age is eighteen.

Select a Kentucky Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

Kentucky massage therapists must complete approved programs. In-state programs may be licensed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education or the Kentucky Commission on Proprietary Education. The instructors and curricular experiences must meet state mandates. The approval process results in issuance of a ‘certificate of good standing’. The Board has provided a list of approved massage therapy schools, along with contact information (

Minimum program length is 600 hours. A student who enrolls in a longer program is not eligible for licensure until all program requirements have been met. Any clinical courses that are included in the mandatory initial 600 hours are to have on-site supervision by a professional who meets experience requirements outlined in 201 KAR 42:080. If the program includes an externship, this is to take place after the initial 600 hours (

Approved programs include the following content:

  • natomy and physiology: 125 hours
  • Massage and bodywork theory and technique: 200 hours
  • Pathology: 40 hours
  • The business of massage therapy: 200 hours

The remaining hours are discretionary.

Contraindication, legalities, and ethics are covered under the business of massage. Modality courses may also be credited as the business of massage. Curriculum content is outlined in state statute ( statute id=40336).

Out-of-state programs can be accepted if they meet similar standards. They are to be licensed by the appropriate agency in their own jurisdiction. The graduate will, at the time of application, document the number of hours in each of the four Board-mandated content areas.

Examination Requirements

Massage therapists are licensed by examination. There are multiple options. The Board has the statutory authority to license therapists based on examinations that are administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, by agencies approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, or by other organizations that they have expressly approved. The 2013 revision of administrative rules references four approved examinations ( and Regulations Booklet.pdf):

  • The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
  • The National Certification Agency (NBCA) Massage Therapy Certification Exam, Level 1
  • The State of Ohio Massage Therapy Licensing Exam
  • The State of New York Massage Therapy Licensing Exam

Administrative rules also note that any other examination administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is acceptable.

The MBLEx is the assessment in most widespread usage as a licensing examination. Candidates can submit their registration online or download applications from the FSMTB website ( application requirements). They will need to remit a $195 fee and verify that they have read the information bulletin and have appropriate training. Transcripts are not required. Approval is granted within five business days. The ATT grants a 90 day testing window. Test takers are referred to Pearson VUE for scheduling. Pearson VUE makes examinations available on a daily basis, but candidates are advised to schedule early so that they have the most options. The examination is computer adapted. Candidates receive examination results immediately after testing.

The Massage Therapy Certification, Level 1 examination is designed for individuals who have completed 600 hours of massage therapy training that is scientifically based and includes orthopedic assessment. The American Medical Massage Association has provided a list of expected content areas ( testing). The examination costs $275 ( massage). Registration is to be in 30 days before a requested session.

Some examinations offered in the past may be accepted. The list of frequently asked questions references the National Examination for State License (NESL) as an acceptable alternative, but this examination is no longer available.

The Application Process

Application materials can be downloaded from the online form library ( applications). Some supplemental materials will be required.

Transcripts must be official. If they are included in the application packet, they must be in their original sealed envelopes. They may also be requested from the school and sent directly to the licensing agency. Coursework requirements should be reported in clock hours.

An applicant who answers “yes” to questions about adverse professional or legal history will need to provide written explanation. An applicant who has had a felony conviction will need to provide the disposition.

The application form requires notarization. The applicant will need to include a $125 fee.

The Board will accept applications sent by regular mail or overnight delivery; two separate addresses are listed in the application packet.

The application fee is processed first. The application package is then reviewed for administrative completeness; applicants can expect some correspondence at this stage. The applications committee will then make an initial determination about whether requirements have been met. The final decision will be made at a Board meeting. Applicants are advised to allow up to 60 days for the process to be complete. Meeting dates for both the applications committee and the Board are posted online ( information).

An applicant with a criminal history may be asked to appear before the application committee ( 042 035).

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

An out-of-state massage therapist may be licensed by endorsement in Kentucky if he or she has met similar requirements in another jurisdiction. The licensing agency will require a statement from the other jurisdiction.

If the other state sets licensing standards lower than Kentucky, the Board will need evidence that the individual massage therapist has had training on a par with that of Kentucky massage therapists. The Board may consider, in addition to transcripts and test results, other evidence of training such as continuing education, internships, or academic coursework in related healthcare fields; the application form includes a list of documents that may be included at applicant discretion. If the applicant has four years of hands-on experience, this may be accepted in lieu of other requirements.

Additional Information

Application information can be found on the website of the Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy ( Licensing statutes and rules are also available online ( and Regulations Booklet).

Applicants should consult the list of frequently asked questions before contacting the licensing agency ( Asked Questions pdf). The Board Administrator can be reached at 502-564-3296, ext. 239. Other contact information is available online (

The American Massage Therapy Association of Kentucky is an additional professional resource (

Massage Therapy Schools in Owensboro, KY