Massage Therapy Licensure in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs) are credentialed by the State Board of Massage Therapy. There are three main requirements: education, examination, and background screening. Prospective massage therapists must also complete minor state-specific requirements. Pennsylvania massage therapists are considered mandatory reporters and must take state-approved child abuse training.
Select a Pennsylvania Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:
- Massage Therapy Schools in PA
- Massage Therapist Education Requirements in Pennsylvania
- Examination Requirements
- Reciprocity for Out-of-State Massage Therapists
- Background Check Requirements
- Application Process (Forms and Materials)
- Contacts for the Board and Professional Associations
Massage Therapy Education Requirements
Massage therapy education takes place at the post-secondary level. Total program length must be at least 600 hours.
Anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology must together comprise at least 175 hours. This content area is to include coverage of HIV and related risks.
Massage therapy assessment, theory, and practice must total 250 hours. Safety, sanitation, and hygiene are included in this content area.
Massage-related ethics, business, and law comprise another 25 hours.
The remaining 150 hours may be in other coursework appropriate to massage therapy study. Students are to develop the knowledge base identified by the Board and described in Chapter 20 of Pennsylvania code (dos.pa.gov Boards Commissions MassageTherapy Board Laws and Regulations). The student must have training in CPR. Training may be pursued through the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association; other comparable training may be approved by the Board. Online CPR training, however, cannot be credited.
Externships, or off-site practical experiences, are not credited toward the required 600 hours.
Beginning January 1, 2015, candidates for massage therapy licensure have been required to take three hours of training in recognizing and reporting child abuse. Trainings must be approved by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The Board has provided a link to approved providers (dos.pa.gov Professional Licensing Massage Therapy Announcements). The student can expect the provider to transmit verification of course completion electronically to the Board.
Prospective massage therapists must pass an approved licensing examination. Pennsylvania has approved the MBLEx. Candidates are to register directly with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). They will need to verify that they have had appropriate training; transcripts are not required. The fee for the MBLEx is $195. Examination applications are typically processed within one week. Approved test takers can schedule their sessions at Pearson VUE computerized assessment centers. The Authorization to Test grants a 90 day eligibility window,
Test takers will receive results shortly after testing. The Board will receive them within 24 hours (provided that this was the licensing agency indicated by the candidate at the time of registration).
The Pennsylvania Board also approved several examinations offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (dos.pa.gov / Massage Therapy Examination Information). However, the examinations referenced (the NCETM, NCETMB, and NESL) are no longer available. An individual who took one of these examinations in the past is directed to contact the NCBTMB. The NCBTMB can be reached at 800-296-0664.
New graduates may receive temporary practice permits that authorize them to provide services pending examination.
License by Reciprocity
Out-of-state massage therapists must meet comparable requirements. Massage therapy education must be earned through a school that is approved by the state licensing agency, authorized by the department of education, or accredited by a national organization. Those who completed programs of just 500 hours may be allowed to make up the difference with continuing education.
Reciprocity candidates are directed to submit verification from each state where they hold licensing.
A reciprocity candidate will need to have passed an acceptable examination.
The Application Process
Applications can be submitted online (dos.pa.gov / Online Licensing Services). Some supplementary materials will be required; these are described in Chapter 20 of state code.
Transcripts are to be requested from the massage therapy school and sent directly to the Pennsylvania Board. If the school is no longer in operation, the student should procure an official transcript from the records depository. Former Pennsylvania students can learn where their records are stored by calling the Department of Education at 717-783-6788; out-of-state students may be able to obtain this information from the department of education in their own state.
The applicant will need to document current CPR certification; certification is to be valid for a minimum of six months after the date of application. The Board will accept basic adult CPR.
The applicant will need to provide a copy of a driver’s license or other valid ID. High school graduation (or equivalency) must also be documented.
The individual will need to provide explanation and supporting information if any of the following apply: criminal history, disciplinary history, denial of licensure, or conditions or substance dependencies that would impair practice.
Background Checks and Additional Applicant Information
It will be necessary to obtain criminal history record checks from each state of residence from the previous five years. Criminal history records checks must be obtained with six months of application. In-state applicants may obtain their reports by visiting the Pennsylvania Access to the Criminal History (PATCH) System online (epatch.state.pa.us). The form can also be downloaded from the website of the Pennsylvania State Police (psp.pa.gov/Pages/default).
The applicant will need to confirm that he or she has read the massage therapy act and rules.
The application carries a $65 fee. The temporary permit, if required, is an additional $65.
The initial review is typically carried out within ten to fifteen working days. The licensing agency sends out notification of incomplete files within eight weeks. All supporting documentation must be in within six months of application. Otherwise it will be necessary to reapply and submit another application fee.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Massage Therapy (dos.pa.gov / Professional Licensing / Boards Commissions Massage Therapy) can be reached by email at ‘RA-Massagetherapy at state.pa.us’ or by telephone at (717) 783-7155.
The state professional association is the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtapa.org).