Today the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) announced that beginning with the first quarter of 2013, it will introduce a Board Certification credential and phase out the current National Certification credential.

The new credential will require 750 hours of education, 250 hours of hands-on experience and passing of a criminal background check, according to an NCBTMB press release. Additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

NCBTMB CEO Mike Williams told MASSAGE Magazine the organization’s licensing exam will still be used in states that use the NCBTMB exam; however, “Over time, licensing and certification have got kind of [combined] together in peoples’ minds and what we’re very much doing with this is breaking them back apart again.”

The new requirements “will ensure that therapists achieving this credential will have the proper foundation to better serve their clients,” the press release noted.

Regarding the criminal background check, Williams said, “All of us understand what people from outside of the industry refer to a the ‘seedy underbelly’ of this profession, and I think the criminal background check will give people greater confidence in the person providing the massage.”

Previously, the board had announced plans to pursue the development of the National Credential for Advanced Practitioners, but “after extensive feedback from the profession, and a further look at the difficulty in testing the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities for such a level of practice, the exam was deemed inappropriate for the current needs of the profession,” the press release noted.

“Rather, it was discovered that higher standards for certification were desired, and the new Board Certification credential, soon followed by the development of specialty exams, will provide a pathway for career success.”

Currently nationally certified massage therapists, to achieve board certification, will need to meet the new Board Certification eligibility criteria as of their next recertification date. Passing the Board Certification exam will not be required.

The NCBTMB stated it will release additional information throughout 2012.

Click here for the program description.

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