The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) have worked cooperatively to reach an agreement that the NCBTMB will no longer provide examinations for licensure purposes and will now focus exclusively on delivering quality certification programs. This supports the common goal of the FSMTB, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to be utilized as the sole licensure exam for the profession, thus facilitating licensure portability for therapists.  

NCBTMB continues to be a trailblazer in certification through its advanced Board Certification credential (BCTMB)—the highest attainable certification credential level in the profession. Furthermore, NCBTMB continues to strive towards defining and advancing the highest standards in the profession through its nationally recognized Approved Provider Program.  

“This landmark demonstration of collaboration between these two premier organizations exemplifies ambassadorship by leaders shaping the future of the profession,” Leena Guptha, D.O., NCBTMB chair, said. “I am very proud to lead the NCBTMB through this transformation and evolution.”

Karen Armstrong, FSMTB vice president, joined Guptha in celebrating the collaborative efforts

“This represents a monumental shift for the profession in a positive direction and benefits all therapists,” Armstrong said. “The regulatory community will also benefit from this simplification and standardization of the licensing process.” 

Steve Kirin, NCBTMB chief executive officer, added, “The NCBTMB has made a bold move to focus its efforts exclusively on delivering quality certification services for the profession. It makes sense to standardize regulation of the profession through the licensure process, and for NCBTMB to follow up and support the licensed therapist with career-enhancement certification offerings.”

Both FSMTB and NCBTMB have exercised diligence in reaching the conclusion to support the MBLEx as the sole national licensing examination for the profession and for FSMTB to support NCBTMB throughout the transition.

“This brings the profession so much closer to realizing our goal of improving portability for licensees,” Debra Persinger, Ph.D., FSMTB executive director, said. “It has been gratifying to work on this initiative with the NCBTMB leadership to address the shared goal of serving the profession by capitalizing on our specific areas of expertise in licensing and certification, respectively.”

Since both organizations offer a 90-day window of authorization to test, there will be applicants in the system that need to cycle through. Therefore, NCBTMB will cease accepting licensure exam applications, effective Nov. 1, 2014, and will cease offering licensure exams effective Feb. 1, 2015. Professionals and regulators will be notified of additional information and important transition timelines as this collaboration ensues.

Additionally, FSMTB and NCBTMB will work with the state licensing boards and agencies to ensure a smooth transition of credentialing data, as well as continuing to work with candidates and schools to assist them through the change in process, where applicable.

Applicants seeking to be licensed should contact the FSMTB at for information regarding the MBLEx. Those seeking Board Certification offered by NCBTMB should contact


The Federation’s mission is to support its member boards in their work to ensure that the practice of massage therapy is provided to the public in a safe and effective manner. For more information, please visit


The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) is an independent, private, nonprofit organization founded in 1992. The mission of NCBTMB is to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork. In support of this mission, NCBTMB serves the profession through Board Certification, Approved Providers, Assigned Schools and entry-level State Licensure Exams. For more information, please visit