A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Wisconsin

Wisconsin massage therapists and bodywork therapists are under the jurisdiction of the Massage Therapy and Bodywork Affiliated Credentialing Board. Licensing is based on education and examination. Certification by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is an alternative way of showing that educational requirements have been met. Out-of-state massage therapists may also be licensed by reciprocity.

Select a Wisconsin Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Education Requirements for Massage Therapists

The prospective massage therapist must complete an approved educational program or graduate from a massage or bodywork school that has the approval of the educational board. Total program length must be at least 600 hours (http://www.dsps.wi.gov/Boards-Councils/Administrative-Rules-and-Statutes/Massage-Therapists-and-Bodyworkers-Administrative-Rules-and-Statutes/).

An approved program includes the following:

  • Kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, and pathology: 125 hours
  • Law, business, and ethics: 50 hours, with no fewer than 6 hours of ethics
  • Theory, technique, and practice: 300 hours, with no fewer than 100 hours of hands-on practice
  • Student clinic: 20 hours
  • CPR and first aid: 5 hours

In some cases, the five hours of CPR may be pursued through alternate means.

The student will need six hours of education in Wisconsin massage law and rules; this may or may not be a part of the original massage therapy program (https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/admin_code/mtbt/2.pdf).

Alternate Educational Pathway: NCBTMB Certification

An individual who holds certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or other certification agency accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies is considered to have met educational requirements with the exception of CPR/ first aid.

The NCBTMB currently offers Board Certification (http://www.ncbtmb.org/board-certification). Some requirements are set higher than they are for Wisconsin licensure; board certified massage therapists must have fully 750 hours of education, or the equivalent. They must pass a board certification examination.

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Some massage therapists hold 'national certification' through the NCBTMB. This certification type will not be officially retired until the end of 2016, though some certificate holders have earlier expiration dates (http://www.ncbtmb.org/board-certification#transition). Massage therapists who are unsure of their expiration date may contact the NCBTMB by telephone at 800-296-0664 or by email at 'info at ncbtmb.org'.

Examination Requirements

Wisconsin massage therapists take two examinations: a national massage therapy examination and a state test of laws and rules (http://www.dsps.wi.gov/Default.aspx?Page=1ba7983b-067e-41e3-bb8c-d2d676aa1735).

National Examination: The national examination must test entry level competency. Several examinations have been approved. However, some have been discontinued by the administrating organization.

Approved examinations include the following:

  • National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
  • National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB)
  • Asian Bodywork Therapy Exam (ABT)
  • Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

The ABT was formerly offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (http://www.nccaom.org).

The NCETM and NCETMB were recently discontinued by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (http://www.ncbtmb.com/).

The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. It is the only one of the approved examinations that is currently available. It is a multiple choice assessment. Massage therapy students and graduates can be approved to test. There is a $195 fee. Candidate handbooks are available for download from the FSMTB website (https://www.fsmtb.org/mblex/) . The applicant must affirm having read the content outline. Testing approval can generally be granted within one week. The candidate will receive an ATT that authorizes scheduling through Pearson VUE.

A massage therapist may be granted a temporary license before he or she has taken the national examination. Supervision will be required.

Jurisprudence Examination: The test of laws and rules is open book and online, but candidates must be authorized to take it. Students at Wisconsin massage therapy schools will have the opportunity to take the state test before graduation. The school will provide the ID and password. Other individuals will receive ID and password after they have submitted applications. The test may be taken on a PC computer. A candidate must score 85% to pass. In order to receive credit for passing the exam, he or she must print the feedback form. An individual who does not pass will need to submit a retake application along with a $75 fee.

Insurance Requirement

The prospective massage therapist must take out a malpractice insurance policy that covers at least 1,000,000 per occurrence and year.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (http://www.dsps.wi.gov/Default.aspx?Page=1fde1c5e-4de0-4c09-93d4-0fcec5db5742).

The applicant will need to include a copy of his or her malpractice policy; the document is to include an expiration date.

The application package includes an affidavit that must be notarized.

Candidates for license by examination pay $150 with their applications ($75 for the state law exam and $75 for credentialing).

The temporary license, if required, costs an additional $10. An individual seeking temporary licensure will need to submit an additional form; it requires supervisor signature.

Applicants can expect notification of status. The licensing agency will use email, provided that the applicant has supplied an email address.

License by Reciprocity

A massage therapist who holds licensing, certification, or registration in another U.S. state or territory or in a foreign nation can be licensed by reciprocity provided that the other jurisdiction has requirements that are at least substantially equivalent. The requirements can be considered substantially equivalent if the jurisdiction either 1) requires certification by the NCBTMB or other certifying agency accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or 2) requires 600 hours of instruction through a school that holds the approval of an accrediting agency (http://www.dsps.wi.gov/Documents/Credentialing%20Forms/Health%20Application%20Forms/fm2961.pdf). It will be necessary to provide a copy of the massage therapy rules and regulations. The licensing agency notes that local (city or county) licenses do not qualify a massage therapist for reciprocity.

The licensing agency will require license verification from each jurisdiction where a credential has ever been held.

Reciprocity candidates must take the state jurisprudence examination. They must show evidence that they carry malpractice liability insurance and hold CPR/ AED certification through an approved provider. The Department has provided a link to approved CPR/ AED providers (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ems/licensing/cpr.htm).

Candidates for license by reciprocity pay $157 ($75 for the state law exam and $82 for credentialing).

Additional Information

The Wisconsin Massage Therapy and Bodywork Affiliated Credentialing Board (http://www.dsps.wi.gov/Default.aspx?Page=3ebd571e-6b70-442f-b8b0-d1b35d0d758f) is under the banner of the Department of Safety and Professional Services. The Department can be reached by telephone at (608) 266-2112 or by email at ‘web at dsps.wi.gov’.

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is the state’s professional organization (http://www.amtawi.org). AMTA-Wisconsin does not issue licenses but has provided a list of frequently asked questions about the credentialing process (https://www.amtawi.org/faq).