New State Licensing Exam Moves Forward

The massage field's lack of credentialing standards has long been problematic for therapists. With a patchwork of standards ranging from 300 to 1,000 hours' required education, a massage therapist who moves from one licensing state to another is usually required to complete massage classes in her new state before she's allowed to practice.

That could change with the implementation of a new national exam, set to be launched this year.

Reciprocity—the recognition by a state of the validity of another state's massage credential­—is one of the goals held by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

The federation announced on March 3 the completion of its job-task analysis survey, the results of which will be used to create a national licensure exam that reflects current practice. Responses were received from 7,646 massage, bodywork and somatic professionals representing every state and U.S. territory except American Samoa, according to a federation press release.

“We are thrilled to receive such a high number of responses and so much support from the professional community," said FSMTB President Patty Glenn. "It gives us unassailable data with which to serve the regulatory boards, the profession and ultimately the consumers.” 

Among the survey results:

  • 80 percent of respondents are female;
  • 90 percent of respondents are Caucasian;
  • 87 percent of respondents graduated from a certificate program;
  • 75 percent of the respondents consider themselves primarily massage therapists, 16 percent bodywork practitioners, 2 percent somatic practitioners and 7 percent "other." 

The FSMTB will publish detailed results from the survey on its Web site ( as data becomes available.

—Karen Menehan