Massage Therapy Licensure in West Virginia
West Virginia massage therapists are licensed by the West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board. They must meet education and examination requirements set by the state.
Select a West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:
- Massage Therapy Schools in West Virginia
- Massage Therapist Education Requirements in WV
- Examination Requirements
- Reciprocity for Out-of-State Massage Therapists
- Application Process (Forms and Materials)
- Contacts for the Board and Professional Associations
Educational Requirements for Licensed Massage Therapists
The prospective West Virginia massage therapist must complete an approved program. The program may be approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Board or by an agency located in another U.S. state or territory.
West Virginia programs include a curriculum described by the Board (wvmassage.org / school standards):
The program will include 200 hours in the fundamentals of theory and practice. At least 100 will consist of hands-on methodology. The remaining 100 hours will include the following topics: client assessment, treatment indications and contraindications, hygiene and infection control, draping procedures, and body mechanics, as well as the history of the massage and bodywork therapy profession.
Anatomy and physiology will together comprise 100 hours. This content area covers human pathologies as well as the structure and function of the body.
At least 20 hours will address client-therapist relationships, boundary issues, and communication.
At least 15 hours will address West Virginia laws, rules, and scope of practice.
An additional 15 hours will cover massage and bodywork related business practices.
The remaining 150 hours can cover a variety of topics related to therapeutic massage and bodywork, addressing any of the following: kinesiology, in-depth study of anatomy and physiology, additional techniques, adjunctive modalities, spa massage, and movement education. Fieldwork or student clinic can account for a maximum of 100 of the required hours in this very broad content area. CPR or first aid cannot, however, be credited.
Out-of-state programs are subject to standards set by their own regulatory agencies. Whether located in or out of West Virginia, a program must require a high school or equivalency diploma and must include 500 hours of academic education.
The laws and rules currently state that an out-of-state program must meet the requirements necessary to allow its graduates to sit for the National Certification Examination of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. However, the NCBTMB has changed its examination offerings, and NCE examinations are no longer available.
Prospective massage therapists must pass a licensing examination. West Virginia law states that prospective licensees will take the NCBTMB examination or another examination approved by the Board. The Board has recently adopted the MBLEx, though some materials on the website may not yet reflect the change.
The MBLEx is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. It is computer adapted. Authorization may be granted to individuals who have graduated from or are currently attending massage therapy school. The application can be submitted online; it can usually be processed within five working days (fsmtb.org/). A $195 examination fee will be assessed. The Authorization to Test (ATT) allows an examinee to schedule a session at a Pearson Vue computerized testing center.
The test taker will know the results shortly after the test is completed. The selected licensing agency will receive test results within 24 hours. A candidate who needs results sent to a second licensing agency will need to fill out a mobility form; the process may take two or more weeks (fsmtb.org/).
The NCBTMB currently offers just one examination, the Board Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or BCETMB (ncbtmb.org / board certification). The BCETMB is not intended to be taken at the entry-level; rather it is designed as one part of a board certification process. Candidates can, however, attempt the examination before all certification requirements have been met.
Former NCBTMB offering include the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). The NCBTMB can be reached at 800-296-0664.
The Application Process
Candidates can download application packets from the Board website (wvmassage.org / license).
Education is verified through a massage therapy training form; the blank form is included in the application package. An educational official will need to note the number of program hours and provide the graduation date. The form is to bear the school’s seal.
The application includes questions about criminal history, child support status, and business-related moneys that may be owed for workman’s compensation or unemployment. Individuals who answer “yes” to the criminal history question must include explanatory letters and supporting documentation.
The application must be notarized.
The applicant should include a $50 application fee and $300 licensing fee; the $50 application fee is nonrefundable.
Applications are to be sent to the Massage Therapy Licensure Board in Charleston. An application can generally be processed, and a license issued, within 10 to 14 business days; this is assuming that all necessary documents and fees arrived in the initial application package. However, the timeframe may vary. The initial license is issued for two years.
Applicants are invited to call the Board with questions that arise during the application process.
Licensed Massage Therapist Reciprocity
In order to be licensed by reciprocity, an out-of-state massage therapist must have met requirements equal to those of West Virginia.
In addition to a copy of the license and evidence of having passed an approved examination, the licensing agency will need evidence that the massage therapist has pursued continuing education; the latter is required if the massage therapist has been licensed for more than two years. According to Board rule, continuing education is to follow National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork guidelines.
The West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board can be reached by telephone at 304-558-1060 or (within West Virginia) at 800-871-7265.
The West Virginia Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is not involved with the licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource (amtamassage.org / chapters / 82469).