The common areas of focus for most states include massage continuing education coursework in state massage practice guidelines, along with professional ethics classes.
Training in state guidelines and regulations is needed to keep massage therapists up to date with the most current legislation, as rules and regulations may change within the common two-year renewal period.
Making sure each massage therapist refreshes his or her memory regarding state law is in the state’s best interest, as well as the client’s.
Due to the literal hands-on nature of massage therapy and the potential issues surrounding sexual misconduct, yearly continuing education classes on business ethics and maintaining professional boundaries with clients are also strongly encouraged throughout the country.
In some states, four continuing education hours must be on state massage rules and regulations, professional ethics or communication. Half of those hours must be dedicated to professional boundaries and roles, which demonstrates how committed the state is to maintaining high integrity among its massage practitioners.
Much of the required training is also classroom coursework with hands-on training in new massage techniques or modalities. Specialty classes for clients with migraines, lymphatic conditions or certain cancers, for instance, may comprise part of the on-going training.
Reading your state guidelines is the first step on your journey to earning CE credits. Taking courses is a great way to stay competitive in the ever-changing marketplace, and the benefits of learning something new and challenging yourself are well worth the investment.
The following grid outlines the current CE unit requirements for each state, the restrictions on taking online classwork, and the approximate cost of completing the CE coursework. These requirements are subject to change.
Some states restrict the number of hours that may be completed online versus in the classroom. When fulfilling your continuing education requirements, make sure you have consulted the chart below and followed up with your local governing body to ensure that the number of hours you complete will be successfully applied toward your renewal.
|STATE||REQUIRED CE HOURS||ONLINE CE ALLOWED||EST COST FOR ONLINE HOURS|
|Alabama||16 Hrs / 2 Yrs||16 Hrs||$240|
|Arizona||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Arkansa||18 Hrs / 2 Yrs||6 Hrs||$90|
|Colorado||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Connecticut||24 Hrs / 4 Yrs||6 Hrs||$90|
|Delaware||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Florida||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Georgia||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Idaho||6 Hrs / Yr||6 Hrs||$90|
|Illinois||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Iowa||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||6 Hrs||$90|
|Kentucky||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Louisiana||12 Hrs / Yr||12 Hrs||$180|
|Maryland||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Massachusetts||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Michigan||18 Hrs / 3 Yrs||18 Hrs||$270|
|Mississippi||12 Hrs / Yr||12 Hrs||$180|
|Missouri||12 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Montana||12 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Nebraska||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||7 Hrs||$100|
|Neveada||12 Hrs / Yr||12 Hrs||$180|
|New Hampshire||12 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|New Jersey||12 Hrs / Yr||12 Hrs||$180|
|New Mexico||16 Hrs / 2 Yrs||16 Hrs||$240|
|New York||36 Hrs / 3 Yrs||36 Hrs||$540|
|North Carolina||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|North Dakota||34 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Oregon||25 Hrs / 2 Yrs||13 Hrs||$190|
|Pennslvania||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||8 Hrs||$120|
|Rhode Island||Not Required||NA||$0|
|South Carolina||12 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|South Dakota||8 Hrs / 2 Yrs||8 Hrs||$120|
|Tennessee||25 Hrs / 2 Yrs||8 Hrs||$120|
|Texas||12 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Virginia||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Washington DC||12 / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|Washington State||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||12 Hrs||$180|
|West Virgina||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
|Wisconsin||24 Hrs / 2 Yrs||24 Hrs||$360|
While there are a number of places that provide continuing education for massage, it is really in your best interest to find the most reputable program(s) available. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) has a database of preferred providers that you can search.
Of course, just because a provider is approved by NCBTMB doesn’t necessarily mean that provider will have all the classes you need. Make sure you conduct your search well in advance of your renewal deadline, giving yourself plenty of time to discover who is providing which piece of the coursework you need and when. You may have to piecemeal your schedule together to get exactly what you need.
Massage Magazine recently introduced an online CEU program. If you would like more information, please click here.
Depending on the provider, classes can range anywhere from approximately $10-25 per credit hour. If your state requires 24 credit hours every two years, you should expect to pay $250-600 within the two-year timeframe to complete your coursework.
There are also free classes available through some providers, usually in concert with other fee-based coursework, as a bonus, for instance, or offered as a free introductory class.
- To meet state requirements
- To best serve your clients’ changing needs
- To differentiate yourself from the competition
- To stay inspired and enthusiastic about your work
- To reduce exposure to risks
- To meet state requirements
Understanding your state guidelines is the first step on your journey to earning CE credits. Even if your state does not require you to obtain a license or CE credits, knowing the basic guidelines set by other states in your region will give you a better comprehension of the standard curriculum that many other massage therapists are pursuing.
As your career develops and your client base grows and changes, you want to meet the new demands of your clients to the very best of your ability. CE courses can provide a wealth of information on how to make adjustments to your practice to ensure that your clients can have a consistently great experience.
To stay competitive in your field, keeping in touch with the massage industry trends and best business practices is essential and will help you become an industry expert. As massage is a multi-faceted industry, CE courses offer new learning opportunities to help you become more marketable.
Continuing education courses for massage therapists cover a wide range of topics to help you develop in every aspect of your career. From new massage techniques to creative ways to market your business, CE courses can also help you reconnect with and reenergize your passion for massage and bodywork.
Many CE courses will help you prevent injury and other risk factors. By learning to use good body mechanics, you will be able to reduce these risks and know how to answer important questions when they arise.
CE courses give you the opportunity to interact with others in your field. This networking can lead to new career connections, clients and contacts for your practice.
Most states require training in state law and regulations, as well as coursework regarding what is needed to avoid medical complications or errors, and will often recommend additional training courses.
Classes you may expect to find will be in areas such as the following:
- Professional ethics
- Massage techniques
- History of massage
- Massage insurance
- Professional ethics
- Effective communication
Coursework in other areas relevant to the individual therapist may be included, based on the practitioner’s background and career aspirations.
Massage CE courses are offered in a variety of formats and are available through many different providers. Most commonly, CEs are earned through:
- Home study courses
- Live/classroom courses
- Distance learning courses
Each format has its strengths and weaknesses, and you should consider which one will work best for you based on your learning style, schedule and the type of class(es) you need. As noted earlier, some states also have restrictions on the number of CE hours that can be completed online, so you need to make sure you achieve the right balance between online and classroom coursework.
The best bet is to refer first to the state guidelines, then to the number of hours needed, and finally, to double check the type of hours required to make the most informed decision before you commit your time, money, and effort. The last thing you want is to complete a class that will not be applicable to your renewal when you are counting on it. While you’ll have the satisfaction of achieving some personal development, it may not comfort you that much when you can’t get your license renewed.
Nationwide, massage therapy is a popular career choice – and an area that’s growing. However, since massage therapists may operate independently, and since massage itself is so diverse, the massage industry has struggled with creating uniformity in massage therapist regulation. This includes the areas of training, education, and licensure – all of which will help ensure the credibility of the field as a whole.
Regarding continuing education, the NCBTMB has moved to the forefront of the charge in trying to create some basic guidelines for massage practitioners and massage instructors to follow. As such, they started to evaluate both what should be required of massage therapists as they advance in their careers, along with what CE providers should have to offer their students.
In 2011, after facing criticism that they had not been stringent enough with their standards in evaluating massage education providers, they determined to redesign their approval criteria. As of 2013, they now have an upgraded CEU provider evaluation process.
If you’d like to become a CEU provider or instructor, it’s a good idea to visit the NCBTMB website to get a baseline understanding of what they look for in an approved provider. While their benchmark is not law, it does suggest that at minimum, you’ll need:
• Some prior teaching experience with a small group
• A class description and objectives
• A syllabus outlining coursework
If you want to be NCBTMB approved, you can find out more information here. As with everything, with a little due diligence, you can find exactly what you need to enhance your career as a massage professional.