As an individual interested in getting a Massage License in California, you’ve come to the right place. In order to obtain your license, you must complete what is known as the National Certification Examination (NCE).
You will then need to apply for licensure through the California Board of Massage Therapy (CBMT). This article will be going over the 10 steps necessary to become licensed and practice massage therapy in California.
Step 1: Meet the basic requirements
To become a licensed massage therapist in California, you need to have either graduated from an accredited massage therapy school or have a current license in good standing from another state. You also must be at least 18 years old, show proof of CPR certification and pass a criminal background check.
In addition, if you don’t have a current license, then you will need to register with your county’s Board of Equalization office before completing your application. The entire process should take about one month from start to finish—in total—so plan accordingly.
Step 2: Register as an Apprentice
You can register as an apprentice at a school that teaches massage therapy or you can register yourself and pay a fee to get on a list of registered apprentices. Apprenticeship programs can range from one month to over a year.
The time frame depends on your state’s requirements for training, but most states require 500 to 1,000 hours of training. Some states may also require you to pass an exam before becoming registered as an apprentice.
If you’re under 18 years old, some states will not allow you to become an apprentice without your parent’s permission. Most schools that teach massage therapy have websites where you can look for information about their programs, including costs and program lengths.
Step 3: Contact your local board
Usually, each state requires a license to practice massage therapy, and each of those states has its own specific licensing body that you’ll need to contact. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) offers a directory of these boards.
You can also just search for massage licensing board and your city or state, which will often take you directly to your local board’s website.
Once you find it, click on massage therapists in order to locate any information about requirements and/or continuing education courses. If no further action is needed at that point, congratulations!
Step 4: Take an approved training program
Once you’ve passed your written exam, it’s time to get practical. You’ll be required to take an approved training program that ranges from 500 to 1,000 hours (usually about a year).
After completion of your training, you will apply for your state license by filling out a standard application form and paying a nominal fee. This information is available on each state’s board of massage therapy website (see resources).
Your new massage therapist license is then mailed in about three weeks. If you fail any portion of your licensing exams or if you are denied a license based on character or criminal history, there is a fee for re-application processing. The fees may vary from state to state; if available, find them online through your state’s board website.
Step 5: Take and pass your exam(s)
You must pass a comprehensive written national certification exam. This is typically your last step in becoming a licensed massage therapist.
Some states require two or more exams, and most of them are available online, at testing centers around the country, or through one of several online providers. All states also require that you take continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on current practices and massage therapy techniques.
Step 6: If you are under 18, get consent from your parents.
If you are under 18, you will need your parents’ written consent to apply for a massage license. This is easily done by having your parents sign Form FTB 3800C, General Consent (For Minors Applying for Licenses or Certificates).
The form can be found on page 5 of its Instructions. If your parents cannot sign their names, have them sign in front of two witnesses at a notary public or submit a completed Affidavit of Signature by Attending Physician in Lieu of Parental Consent, Form FTB 1693. These forms can be found on page 7 of its Instructions.
Step 7: Submit your application and pay fees.
If your name and address don’t match those in the database, you may be delayed in getting your license. The process takes four to six weeks on average, though some people say it took as long as eight months when they applied recently.
You’ll pay $100 for a license and $60 for a renewal every two years. You’ll also need to pay $34 if you have an active misdemeanor or felony conviction; have been convicted of drug-related crimes; are on probation or parole; are not registered to vote; or have outstanding judgments against you. Anyone applying while they’re in prison will be denied until their sentence is over.
Step 8. Receive your license in the mail.
Once you’ve completed all of your massage training and education, you can apply for a license with your state. The process is quick, easy, and requires minimal paperwork.
Depending on where you live, it may take anywhere from two weeks to three months to receive your massage license in the mail. Once it arrives, treat yourself to something nice — you deserve it! You’re now officially ready to begin your career as a licensed massage therapist in California!
Step 9. Go to work!!!
At some point, you’ll need to actually do your job. Before you do, it’s good to get a sense of what’s ahead of you and take time to consider whether or not you have what it takes. I wish I had been more prepared for how physically and emotionally challenging massage therapy can be.
It can also be a lot of fun and rewarding, but it takes work. Consider that massage school is just one part of your career as a licensed professional massage therapist (LMP). As an LMP, you will be legally obligated to complete continuing education courses throughout your career in order to maintain licensure.
Step 10. Repeat every two years!!
Please remember, you will need to renew your license in order to work. Most states require renewal every two years, so make sure you check with your local board. If you’re unsure of when your renewal is due, simply reach out to them and they should be able to inform you!
With massage school becoming more and more competitive each year, we recommend studying for a licensing exam through an independent study course or distance learning institution rather than at a brick-and-mortar school.
This will allow you to learn on your own time, outside of an academic setting, and cover all areas required for taking a massage licensure exam.
Thinking of becoming a licensed massage therapist in California? Here’s how to do it. First, find out what you need to do. Learn how much it costs, what kind of training is required and where you can take courses. Then decide if it’s right for you, especially as a new business idea.
Once you are sure that opening your own business as a massage therapist is right for you and your family read on to learn exactly how to go about getting your license.