Massage Therapy Licensure in South Dakota

South Dakota massage therapists are licensed by the South Dakota Board of Massage Therapy. Massage therapists must meet education and examination requirements set by the state. Additionally, South Dakota massage therapists are required to take out liability or malpractice insurance.

Select a South Dakota Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Education Requirements for Massage Therapists in South Dakota

Prospective massage therapists must complete a minimum of 500 hours of training and education through a facility or instructor that is recognized by the Board ( / boards massage education).

Massage therapy programs must be approved or authorized by an appropriate entity. Schools may draw their authorization in one of two ways: national accreditation or approval of a state massage therapy board.

Out-of-state schools may be authorized or licensed by the board in their own state or accredited by one of the following agencies:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSCT)
  • Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS)

There are seven schools that have been explicitly approved to operate within South Dakota (

Massage therapy programs must include the required content ( / boards / massage education). Minimum standards are as follows:

  • Body systems/ anatomy/ physiology/ kinesiology: 125 hours
  • Massage and bodywork theory/ application/ assessment: 200 hours
  • Pathology: 40 hours
  • Business and ethics: 10 hours

At least six of the hours in the business and ethics content area are to cover ethics.

The remaining hours are to be in some area that theoretically completes the program.

Fifty minutes of classroom time may be credited as an hour (Display Rule 20:76:01:06).

Examination Requirements

Prospective massage therapists must pass national examinations. The Board has approved four:

  • National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
  • National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB)
  • National Board Certification Agency (NBCA) Massage Therapy Certification Exam
  • Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has ceased to offer the NCETMB or NCETM. Individuals can find more information about the NCBTMBS’s changed role and examination policy on the organization website ( / fsmtb and ncbtmb clarify agreement purpose). Customer service can be reached at 800-296-0664 or ‘info at’.

The MBLEx and the NBCA Certification Exam are both currently available.

The MBLEx is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and is accepted as a licensing examination in most states. The examination is now computer-adapted. Interested individuals can begin the process by reading the candidate information bulletin which is available for download on the FSMTB website ( They will include a $195 fee along with their registration materials. Approved candidates will be allowed to schedule at Pearson Vue assessment centers. There is an assessment center in Sioux Falls and multiple assessment centers in neighboring states ( / testtaker / registration / Select Test Center Proximity / FSMTB / 259481). The ATT grants a 90 day window.

The NBCA Massage Therapy Certification Examination is offered by the American Medical Massage Association, or AMMA ( / testing). It is designed for practitioners who have a specific type of training, one which includes orthopedic assessment and scientifically based theory; the exam is intended to assess competency to perform massage therapy in clinical settings ( nce requirements). Candidates should first seek AMMA membership. There is a $275 examination fee ( / exam massage). The examination is offered through some university assessment centers and library systems. The examination agency asks candidates to register at least 30 days before the intended examination date.

Candidates who are waiting to take an examination may be issue temporary permits, valid for up to 180 days.

The Application Process

Applications and supplementary forms can be downloaded from the Board website ( / boards / massage / apps).

Massage therapy training is to be verified through two documents: an official transcript and a ‘verification of education’ form. The latter is to be completed by a program director or school president. The official will note the program’s authority, which may be approval by a state massage therapy board or accreditation by one of the agencies listed. The official will also note the number of hours provided in each required content area; a credit may be counted as ten instruction hours.

The blank verification form is included in the application packet. The official may either mail the completed form and transcript directly to the licensing agency or return them to the applicant in a sealed envelope.

The licensing agency will also require official test results.

The applicant will need to include a copy of a driver’s license or birth certificate with the application materials.

He or she will also need to provide evidence of holding a malpractice or professional liability policy that covers at least $250,000.

Both the application form and the educational verification form require notarization. (In the case of the verification form, it is the official, not the applicant, whose signature is to bear a notary seal.)

There is a $75 application fee and $45 initial licensure fee; the $45 fee can be refunded if licensure is denied.

There is a $50 fee for the temporary permit.

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

Out-of-state massage therapists may be licensed by reciprocity, provided that the other state has similar requirements. The Board will need evidence that the massage therapist has comparable education (including high school diploma or GED) and has passed an accepted assessment.

Out-of-state licensees are directed to provide official license verification as well as a copy of the license. There is a verification form on the Board website. The state official must confirm that the credential is in good standing. The verification form also inquires about the examination the massage therapist took and the education he or she completed.

Additional Information

The South Board of Massage Therapy ( / boards / massage) can be reached by telephone at 605-224-1721 or by email at ‘SDBMT at’. Individuals may also use email contact form ( / boards / massage / contact).

Massage therapists should be aware that laws and policies change periodically. There were some revisions in 2013 ( / Boards / massage / Law Changes pdf).

The South Dakota Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is an additional resource. AMTA-SD does not issue licenses, but does provide some licensing-related information on its website (

Massage Schools in Sioux Falls

Massage Therapy School in Rapid City, SD