In California, certification as a massage therapist is voluntary and offers benefits including portability and the right to use the title Certified Massage Practitioner or Certified Massage Therapist. Once certified by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), a massage therapist is no longer regulated by city or county massage laws.

Senate Bill 1238, an act to amend the state’s massage law, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. It stipulates additional requirements for certification and grants more authority to CAMTC. It amends California’s voluntary massage certification statute in the following ways:

1. Applicants need to now either complete 500 hours of massage education, with at least 250 of those hours coming from an approved school; or complete 250 hours of massage education from an approved school and pass a massage competency exam. (Previously, applicants were allowed to either show they had completed 500 hours of education or passed a competency exam.)

2. The CAMTC may now “immediately suspend the certificate of a certificate holder upon receipt of clear and convincing evidence that the holder has committed an act punishable as a sexually related crime or a felony that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a certificate holder,” according to the website of the California Legislature. “The bill would grant the holder of a certificate so suspended the right to a hearing to be held within 30 days and require the council to send notice of suspension to the certificate holder and to other specified businesses.” (Previously, CAMTC could immediately suspend, on an interim basis, the certificate of a certificate holder if the aforementioned evidence was received by CAMTC.)

3. The law authorizes law enforcement and local government agencies to provide to CAMTC information concerning an applicant or certificate holder, including, but not limited to, information related to criminal activity or unprofessional conduct allegedly engaged in by that person. (Previously, CAMTC was authorized to provide information concerning a certificate holder, upon request of a law enforcement or local government agency with responsibility for regulating massage or massage businesses.)

4. Applicants and certificate holders may be denied application or disciplined if they are convicted of committing a felony, misdemeanor, infraction or municipal code violation, or liability in an administrative or civil action, that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a certificate holder. (Previously, such consequences were allowed for conviction of a felony.)

For more information, visit the website of the California Legislature.