Massage Therapist Credentials and Certifications

Massage Therapist Tulsa works in spas, sports centers, hospitals, and doctors’ offices, as well as in private practice. Many pursue additional professional certifications to enhance their careers.

Massage Therapist

Students seeking a license must graduate from a Department-registered licensure program consisting of at least 1,000 hours of instruction, including didactic coursework and practical experience.

Before beginning your career as a massage therapist, you need to complete your training. You can attend an accredited massage therapy program or take the MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination), which the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards administers. The coursework includes classroom instruction in biological sciences, including anatomy and physiology, pathology, and kinesiology. You will also learn about professional development, ethics, and business practices.

You can find massage therapist jobs in spas, fitness centers, doctors’ offices, hotels, and many other settings. Some choose to work independently as massage therapists in their own studios. It is important to earn your license and become a member of one or more professional associations so you can build connections with peers and prospective employers.

A massage therapist can learn about hundreds of different techniques, known as modalities. The more modalities you know, the more flexible and versatile you can be in your future work. Look for a school that offers a range of electives, so you can experiment with different modalities and decide which ones best fit your skill set and interests.

If you already have some massage therapy experience, you may want to consider a voluntary certification. The American Massage Therapy Association, for example, offers continuing education classes, a directory of massage therapists and their contact information, and liability insurance for members. Other organizations include the International Association of Massage Therapists, which provides educational resources, a forum to promote professional development, and a conference for members.


Massage therapists have a variety of physical skills needed to perform their work. They must have dynamic strength, arm-hand steadiness and trunk strength to apply therapeutic massage techniques. They also need to have perceptual abilities to assess clients’ needs and determine the best course of action for treatment. Empathy is a key trait in a massage therapist, as it allows them to build trust with their clients and create a peaceful environment for them to communicate their personal needs and experiences. However, it is important to know that a massage therapist should not become so attuned to their client’s feelings that they lose sight of professional boundaries and go beyond the scope of their practice.

Massage therapy is a multi-faceted field with hundreds of potential techniques, modalities and methods to explore. A massage therapy program that provides ample opportunities for students to experiment with different types of massage can help them prepare for a career in the industry. Students who are familiar with the various aspects of massage, including deep tissue, sports massage and craniosacral therapy, will be able to choose the type of massage that suits them best after graduation.

Developing the right skills can help massage therapists advance their careers and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Those who excel in soft skills, like interpersonal communication, listening and time management, are better prepared to succeed in their careers.


As a massage therapist, you’ll use your hands and arms to manipulate patients’ soft tissues in the form of pressure, stretching, vibration and more. You may also apply heat and other modalities like shiatsu (rhythmic hand-clapping and tapping along the body’s energy meridians), joint manipulation, range of motion evaluation, myofascial release techniques, and polarity therapy.

You’ll need to have good communication skills to assess your clients’ medical history, pain and stress levels in order to determine their treatment plan. You’ll also have to be comfortable discussing personal health details with them, as well as keeping records of their progress or any changes in their symptoms.

Your work as a massage therapist will involve some physical stamina, as you’ll have to be on your feet for the duration of your client appointments. You’ll also need a high level of integrity, as you’ll have access to sensitive patient information.

Choosing to specialise as a massage therapist can help you find more satisfaction and success in your career. This includes picking a particular technique, like clinical massage, sports massage or prenatal massage, to attract and maintain a loyal client base. Choosing a specialist can also help you build on your knowledge of basic anatomy and how to incorporate these into your practice, as well as helping you stay abreast of the latest developments in massage modalities. For example, research suggests that lymphatic massage can reduce swelling in the body by promoting fluid movement and eliminating waste products. This is ideal for people with inflammation, such as arthritis or those who have had mastectomies. It can even help new-born babies, as a gentle touch can help encourage their lymphatic system to develop properly.


As a Massage Therapist, credentials and certifications show your clients that you have advanced training. They also increase your earning potential. For example, some third-party insurances cover only state-registered therapists, which allow you to charge higher rates. There are many different types of credentials and specializations in massage therapy, and the qualifications required for each can vary by state.

To obtain a state license, you must complete an approved massage therapy program and pass a state-specific exam. This process typically requires at least 1000 hours of instruction, including practical experience. When choosing a program, make sure it is accredited by a nationally recognized agency. This ensures that the curriculum meets national standards and is aligned with industry practices.

Once you’ve obtained a state license, you can apply to join the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). This voluntary credential shows that you have attained higher levels of expertise in massage therapy. It requires that you fulfill specific educational and work experience requirements, pass a rigorous examination and agree to adhere to the NCBTMB’s ethical codes of practice.

While certification is not a requirement for most Massage Therapists, it can help you to stand out from the competition. This is especially important for therapists who specialize in areas such as medical massage, sports massage or infant massage. Whether or not you choose to pursue this credential, there are many other voluntary credentials that you can pursue to demonstrate your professional commitment and knowledge. These include:


Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but most include some combination of education, experience, passing a national exam, and fulfilling other state or local requirements. Some states have additional ethical and professional practice guidelines. For example, New York State Department of Education (NYSED) Rule 29 outlines what is considered unprofessional conduct for all professions and health professionals, but has special provisions regarding massage therapists.

In order to be licensed, massage therapists must complete at least 1000 hours of instruction. Programs must be registered with the state’s Education Department to count toward this requirement. Students can still apply for licensure after finishing programs with less than 1000 hours, but the NYSED will review their record and determine if there are educational deficiencies that need to be corrected.

CNWSMT meets and exceeds the national standard with a 1,020-hour curriculum that includes classroom theory and practical application techniques. After completing their education, graduates are ready to take the MBLEx, the Federally mandated exam for Massage Therapists.

Once they have passed the exam, they must also meet all other licensing requirements, including the completion of Continuing Education (CE) courses. These are designed to keep practitioners up to date with the latest advances in their field. Typical CE topics include anatomy and physiology, modalities, massage business best practices, and ethics. Most states have a list of approved CE providers. Other CE options can include classes on aromatherapy, yoga, and other wellness techniques.