Massage Therapy Licensure in Ohio

Ohio has been regulating the massage therapy profession longer than any other state: since 1915. Massage therapists are under the jurisdiction of the State Medical Board of Ohio. Massage therapy is considered a limited branch of medicine ( Licensure is granted to individuals who meet education, examination, and character requirements.

Select an Ohio Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

Prospective massage therapists must earn diplomas or certificates. Their programs must include a state-mandated curriculum. Total program length is to be 750 hours. Programs are to include theoretical and practical massage therapy instruction. They are to cover anatomy, physiology, pathology, hygiene, business and law, and ethics. There is to be a clinical program.

The Board has provided a list of schools that offer the approved curriculum and are in good standing ( massage therapy schools). The list includes a limited number of programs located in other states such as Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

State rule describes how a school can be determined to be in good standing ( / 4731-1-15). One requirement is registration: If the school is located outside of Ohio, it must be authorized by an agency that is comparable to the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools Registration or the Ohio Board of Regents. Out-of-state schools must also include the prescribed curriculum.

Massage Therapist Examination Requirement

Massage therapy candidates must pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx). The MBLEx is a multiple choice examination. It covers the following topics ( / mblex / exam content/):

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Pathology/ contraindications and cautions/ special populations
  • Benefits and physiological effects
  • Client assessment and treatment planning
  • Massage and bodywork overview
  • Professional practice guidelines
  • Laws, regulations, ethics and boundary issues

The MBLEx is administered by computer at sites around the nation. The candidate may initiate the process by downloading a candidate bulletin from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and then submitting the registration form and fee; materials may be submitted online or through the mail ( / mblex / application requirements/). The fee is currently $195. An approved candidate can expect Authorization to Test to be issued within five working days. The ATT grants a 90-day examination window; scheduling is carried out through Pearson VUE.

Background Check Requirement

Applicants must have background checks processed through the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) and the FBI.

Those residing within Ohio will have fingerprints processed through a vendor that participates in the WebCheck system. The agency code (and other information) can be found in the application packet. Applicants can search for vendors on the website of the Ohio Attorney General ( Webcheck Community Listing).

The licensing agency will allow individuals who live outside Ohio to have their fingerprints made at a local agency. They will need the correct fingerprint card. The Board will provide fingerprinting packets to those who request them by email. There is an email request link accessible from the Board website. The Board notes that the processing time is longer for those who use fingerprint cards than it is for those who use WebCheck ( / Business / Services- or Business / WebCheck / Webcheck Community Listing).

There is a $22 fee for the BCI background check and a $24 for the FBI background check. This is in addition to fees that may be owed to the fingerprinting vendor.

The Application Process

Individuals apply after they have met all requirements, including examination. Application packet can be downloaded from the Board website ( / Applications / Massage Therapist MT).

The applicant must have a certificate of education signed by a school official. The Board will also need to see a copy of the certificate or diploma.

The Board requires two references or “certifications of recommendation”. The applicant will need to attach a color photograph to each recommendation form and then forward it to the individual who will fill it out.

Applicants are asked to provide their MBLEx score reports from each examination attempt. The MBLEx program can be reached by telephone at 866-962-3926.

Applicants must submit license verification if they hold licensing or registration in any U.S. state or Canadian province, or if they have held credentialing in the past; the Ohio Board requires verification not only of massage therapy licenses but of other healthcare licenses (for example, RN or LPN). The applicant will fill out the top portion of the verification form and forward it to the applicable licensing agency.

Applicants with criminal history will fill out the criminal offense information form; the Ohio Board requires a separate form for each incident.

The application packet includes an affidavit and release form that requires notarization. There is a nonrefundable $150 application fee.

Application packets are mailed to the State Medical Board in Columbus.

The typical processing time is 60 days.

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

Experienced out-of-state massage therapists may be exempted from showing that their curriculum met the requirements of Ohio Code; they must have practiced for a minimum of five years ( / MT Applications/).

Additional Information

Massage School in Cincinnati, OH

Massage School Columbus, Ohio

Massage Schools in Cleveland, OH

The Massage Therapy Division operates under the banner of the State Medical Board of Ohio ( / Applications / Massage Therapist MT.aspx). The Board can be reached at 614-466- 3934.

The American Massage Therapy Association-Ohio Chapter is the state professional organization (