Massage Therapist Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota does not, as of 2015, have a law to license or register massage therapists at the state level. However, this does not mean there are no laws in place. Massage therapists in many municipalities, including St. Paul, Hopkins, and Burnsville do work under licenses. The Alliance for Licensing Massage Therapists, a Minnesota-based organization, reports that massage therapists statewide are required to abide by the Unlicensed Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practices Act, and that the act requires them to provide patients with a bill of rights.

The Alliance is one of the Mississippi organizations that has been working on greater regulation at the state level. Another is the Minnesota Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association. The latest bill, which would create voluntary statewide registration, did not get heard by the Government Operations Committee during the session ending in 2015 but will start there during the next session.

What can prospective massage therapists do right now, if they live in a jurisdiction that does not license professionals? One is to get an education on a par with nationally recognized standards. Another is to consider third party certification or examination. Yet another: to stay in the know on legislative developments.

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Massage Therapy Education

Most states require massage therapists to have at least 500 hours of related education and training, though some set the requirement higher. National organizations, too, tend to set the standard at 500 hours or above. There are often specific curriculum requirements as well.

A student can expect that a program meets widely accepted standards if it has the approval of a nationally recognized organization. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is one such organization. Programs that have been assigned school codes by the NCBTMB meet the organization’s basic standards: They are operating legitimately. They offer programs that are at least 500 hours total and meet curricular minimums in NCBTMB-identified content areas.

A search of the NCBTMB’s database reveals 20 Minnesota programs with NCBTMB codes ( / find approved school MN).

The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), unlike the NCBTMB, is an accrediting agency. It is recognized as such by the U.S. Department of Education. Minnesota currently boasts two COMTA-accredited massage therapy schools (

Programs may also be members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). AMTA member schools have at least 500 in-class hours. There are seven member schools in Minnesota ( / minnesota schools).

Prospective students should be aware that many states require that schools have particular accreditations or approvals. Many will accept either national accreditation or state approval.

Voluntary Certification

National or ‘board’ certifications are voluntary third party credentials that may be pursued by practitioners in both regulated and unregulated states.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the industry standard. The NCBTMB used to offer national certification. National certification did not give massage therapists the legal right to work if they lived in jurisdictions that regulated the profession, but did allow therapists from unregulated states to show that they had met comparable standards. The NCBTMB now offers board certification which represents, in some ways, a higher standard ( / board certification). Board certified massage therapists have fully 750 hours of education, though the qualifying education does not all have to be completed as part of the original diploma or certificate program. What is important is that the original program meets basic NCBTMB standards and has been assigned a code. Those who did not graduate from NCBTMB-assigned schools may inquire about portfolio review (

Candidates for board certification must pass an examination. They must also pursue CPR certification and affirm their opposition to human trafficking and their commitment to uphold a professional code of ethics.

An individual who lives in an area where there is no regulation may want to pursue the ABMP Certified Massage Therapist credential through Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals ( / practitioners / membership options and costs). The massage therapist will need to document either 500 hours of education or passing scores on the national licensing examination, the MBLEx ( In order to maintain membership at the certified level, the massage therapist will need to pursue continuing education during each renewal period.

There are other certifications that represent specialties of massage therapy or other closely related disciplines. The American Medical Massage Association, based in Michigan, offers certification in medical massage ( Again, the educational prerequisites are more stringent than what may be offered in many legitimate massage schools. However, massage therapists who have the basic education may choose to pursue the more specialized education later.

Staying Current on New Developments

Professional associations can help practitioners and future practitioners stay current on developments in the field. One option is the American Massage Therapy Association. The AMTA posts state legislative updates ( / government / leg briefing). A person does not need to be a member to view them. However, membership confers additional benefits. Minnesota has its own state chapter, AMTA-Minnesota ( AMTA-Minnesota also provides information about government relations.

Massage therapists may also seek membership in Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.

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