Massage Therapy Licensure in Michigan
Licensure has been mandatory for Michigan massage therapists since November 29, 2014. The grandfathering period, moreover, has ended. Licensees must meet training and examination requirements.
Select a Michigan Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:
- Massage Therapy Schools in Michigan
- Massage Therapist Education Requirements in Michigan
- Examination Requirements
- Reciprocity for Out of State Massage Therapists
- Background Check Requirements
- International Applicants
- Application Process (Forms and Materials)
- Contacts for the Board and Professional Associations
Massage Therapist Education & Training Requirements
Prospective massage therapists must complete programs that include state-approved curriculum.
According to Board Administrative Rule, programs must be at least 500 hours (www7.dleg.state.mi.us / Bureau of Health Care Services). They must include the following coursework:
- Instruction in massage/ bodywork theory, technique, and assessment: 200 hours
- Instruction in body systems, to include kinesiology, anatomy, and physiology: 125 hours
- Instruction in business and practice management: 4 hours
- Ethics instruction: 6 hours
- Pathology coursework: 40 hours
The remaining hours must be related to the practice of massage therapy. The student will need to spend at least 40 hours providing massage services at a student clinic.
Students may credit online coursework toward the pathology, body systems, and business/ ethics/ professional practice requirements. However, they may not credit online instruction toward the 500 hour minimum required for licensure.
The Michigan Board of Massage Therapy has provided a list of state-approved programs (http://www.michigan.gov / approved Massage Therapy program list pdf). Programs are housed in community colleges as well as technical/ vocational schools. Information may change periodically. Prospective students will find the most current list on the Board website.
Curriculums that are not specifically approved within Michigan should be equivalent.
Massage Therapist License Examination Requirements
The Michigan Board will accept any of several licensing examinations. Some of the adopted examinations, however, have recently been discontinued.
The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB), is the current offering. By agreement between the FSMTB and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), the MBLEx is the sole national examination intended to assess entry-level professional skills for the purpose of state licensure. It is available in English and Spanish
Individuals can register and pay the MBLEx examination fee (currently $195) online (fsmtb.org/). They do not need to submit transcripts but must confirm that they have read the information bulletin and have appropriate training. ATTs are issued within a matter of days. Approved candidates schedule their own computerized examinations through Pearson VUE. Applicants who select the Michigan Board of Massage Therapy as their score recipient will have examination results sent electronically, generally within 24 hours of testing.
The Michigan Board also approved the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). However, these examinations are no longer available. The NCBTMB now offers a different examination as part of a rigorous Board Certification process that supplements but does not replace licensure. The NCBTMB can be reached by telephone at 1-800-296-0664 or by email at ‘info at ncbtmb.org’.
Background Check Requirements
Michigan requires applicants to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks. In-state applicants will have their fingerprints captured electronically. They are to use vendors approved by the Michigan State Police (michigan.gov / msp). They are directed to contact the chosen vendor seven to ten days after submitting the application. They will need the agency ID number.
Out-of-state applicants may have their fingerprints made on government-issued fingerprint cards such as the standard FBI (FD-258) card. After the prints are made, they will need to be sent to the approved vendor, Identogo, for processing. There is a $62.75 fee. The applicant is to register and select his or her payment method before mailing the cards; this process can be carried out online. Nonresident instructions are available on the Identogo website (l1enrollment.com / forms mi). Identogo can be reached by telephone at 866-226-2952.
Criminal history is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The licensing agency takes into account not only the type of conviction but the age that the applicant was and the time that has elapsed since.
The Application Process
Application packets can be downloaded from the website of the Michigan Board of Massage Therapy (michigan.gov / lara).
The application packet includes a section that is be completed by a program director at the massage school. The purpose is to confirm that the graduate has had the minimum number of instruction and training hours in each Board-mandated subject.
Applicants will also need to provide official high school transcripts (or official verification of having earned a GED). A Michigan graduate may have the option of having his or her transcript sent electronically.
Applicants who answer “yes” to personal data questions regarding criminal history, discipline, or recent substance abuse treatment will need to furnished the licensing agency with detailed explanation, including relevant court documents or other official documentation.
An application for initial licensure should be accompanied by a $95 fee.
Applicants should allow at least two weeks to pass before checking status.
Applications that include the required fee but do not include all documents necessary to establish eligibility may be held open for up to two years.
The Michigan licensing agency requires official verification from all states where the applicant has ever held licensing as a massage therapist; the Board notes that it is not sufficient to include a copy of the license.
Out-of-state massage therapists who received their initial licensing less than five years prior must provide evidence of having met Michigan’s educational requirements. Those who have been licensed in another U.S. state for more than five years will not need to meet Michigan curriculum requirements but will need to provide evidence of 1) having graduated from high school or obtained equivalency and 2) having passed an approved examination.
Applicants who hold current licensing in other states will use the endorsement application.
International applicants must have their credentials reviewed by some agency that is accredited by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, or NACES (www.naces.org). Those who pursued their massage therapy education in a language other than English will also need to provide scores from either the TOEFLibt or the TOEFL and the TSE.
Candidates who take the TOEFLibt are expected to make the following minimum scores:
- Reading: 22
- Listening: 22
- Speaking: 26
- Writing: 24
The Board will also accept written TOEFL scores of 550 (or computerized scores of at least 230) if the TSE score is at least 50.
The Michigan Board of Massage Therapy (michigan.gov / lara) can be reached by telephone at (517) 335-0918 or by email at ‘bhpinfo at michigan.gov’.
The Michigan Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is not involved with the licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource (amtamichigan.org/).