Massage Therapy Licensure in Massachusetts
Massachusetts massage therapists are under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Massage Therapy. They are licensed on the basis of education; examination is not required.
In addition to meeting Massachusetts educational standards, prospective massage therapist must demonstrate good character. A massage therapist must be at least eighteen of age and possess a liability insurance policy as well as a high school or equivalency diploma.
Select a Massachusetts Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:
- Massage Therapy Schools in Massachusetts
- Massage Therapist Education Requirements in Massachusetts
- Other Requirements: Liability Insurance
- Application Process (Forms and Materials)
- Contacts for the Board and Professional Associations
Massage Therapist Education Requirements
The prospective massage therapist must complete an approved program. The Board does not maintain a list of approved programs, but notes that the school must be licensed in its own jurisdiction. It must also cover a Board-mandated curriculum.
The program must include at least 550 hours of academic coursework and 100 hours of internship or unpaid supervised practice. The Board has identified five academic content areas and set a minimum number of hours of study in each one. Additionally, the Board has published a detailed set of curricular guidelines, outlining concepts that should be addressed (mass.gov / licensee dpl boards mt).
The program is expected to cover the following content:
Anatomy and physiology coursework is to comprise at least 100 hours. It is to cover structure and function of ten body systems, including the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, nervous system, and digestive system.
Pathology coursework is to comprise at least 45 hours. It is to cover the pathologies that a massage therapist typically encounters; contraindications and precautions are to receive coverage.
Kinesiology coursework is to comprise another 45 hours. The student will learn to identify and palpate muscular attachments and bellies.
Massage therapy theory and technique is to comprise fully 300 hours. This content area includes many skills, from the actual musculoskeletal palpation to treatment planning, draping, and writing of treatment notes. The student will also identify and develop personal care skills such as biomechanics. The Board notes that coursework in techniques that do not fall under the Board’s definition of massage cannot be credited. Examples would be reiki, acupressure, and reflexology (mass.gov/ocabr / regulations / advisory ruling regarding the 300 hours).
Ethics and professionalism is to comprise at least 60 hours. This coursework will cover concepts such as professional boundaries, legal requirements, ethics codes, and confidentiality. The student will also develop job search and marketing skills and learn about opportunities for continued growth and professional development.
The prospective massage therapist must complete 100 hours of unpaid internship. At least 60 hours must be hands-on practice. The board will credit up to 100 hands-on clinical hours.
The Board notes that out-of-state transcripts can be reviewed if the school is either approved by the massage therapy regulatory agency or appropriately licensed (mass.gov/ocabr board policies regarding school transcripts).
Other Requirements: Liability Insurance
The prospective massage therapist will need to take out a liability insurance policy with coverage of at least $1,000,000; this figure is both the aggregate and “per occurrence” minimum.
State statute lists among the requirements not having been convicted, during the prior ten years, of a crime that is sexually-related or involves “moral turpitude” (malegislature.gov Session Laws Chapter135).
Statute also specifies “good moral character” This determination is left to Board discretion.>
The Application Process
Application materials can be downloaded from the Board website (mass.gov ocabr licensee forms). Applicants are asked to read the licensing regulations before submitting their qualifications. Regulations are also available online (mass.gov ocabr licensee regulations).
Official transcripts are to be included in their original sealed envelopes. The Board also requests syllabi or course descriptions. The applicant will fill out a transcript analysis form to document coursework in specific Board-mandated areas. He or she will list applicable courses under each content area. If only a portion of a course addressed a particular content area, the applicant will list only those hours that did.
The applicant will need to provide two reference letters. One is to come from someone who he or she has had a professional relationship with; the professional might be a massage therapist, massage therapist instructor, or healthcare provider. The other is to come from someone who is not related to the applicant and can address his or her integrity. Reference letters should also be included in the application package in their original sealed envelopes.
The applicant is to furnish a copy of the declarations page from his or her insurance policy.
Massachusetts requires verification of all professional licenses, whether in massage therapy or other professions. If the license was granted by the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure, it will not be necessary to include a certificate of standing.
If a particular document will arrive after other application materials, the applicant should include a note to this effect (mass.gov ocabr frequently asked questions on massage therapy).
A two by two photograph is to be attached to the application.
The applicant will need to pay a $225 fee; it cannot be refunded even in cases where licensure is denied.
The application packet includes two forms which require notarization.
The application includes questions about legal and professional history. Applicants will affirmative responses will need to provide details. The Board carries out criminal history checks on applicants; other records may also be checked.
Application materials are to be sent to the Board office in Boston.
In most cases, applicants will not receive confirmation of application receipt. Applicants who want receipt confirmation may send the application package “return receipt requested”. They also have the option of emailing the Board.
The process typically takes four to six weeks. Applicants can expect email correspondence if there is information missing from their files. The licensing agency will later send license confirmation by email. New licensees can also go online to check status; the license card will not arrive in the mail until approximately a month later.
The licensing process can be expedited for military spouses (mass.gov ocabr oca agencies valor act info). The individual will need to submit a ‘Relocated Military Spouse Affidavit Form’.
Massage therapist licensure is governed by statutes, regulations, and Board policies and guidelines. Prospective massage therapists should be aware that requirements change periodically; educational standards increased in 2010.
Applicants are invited to contact the Board if they have unanswered questions. The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Massage Therapy (mass.gov ocabr dpl boards) can be reached by telephone at (617) 727-3074. Additional contact information is found in the application packet.
The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is not involved with the licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource (massamta.org).