Fancy a Career Change? Learn How To Become a Licensed Massage Therapist

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Have you ever considered pursuing a career as a licensed massage therapist?

There are so many benefits to this type of work.

In your training, you will learn a great deal about the human body, and once you are a licensed practitioner, you will be able to help people every single day.

You can work for an existing massage provider, or you can go out and start your own business. In many cases, you can make your own schedule. You’ll make a solid income, too.

If you’re thinking about becoming a licensed massage therapist, read on to learn everything you need to know to begin your journey towards this exciting new career.

Step 1: Find a School and Get Training

The first thing you’ll need to do to become a licensed massage therapist is learn how to correctly provide therapeutic massage therapy. You may already be skilled at giving back and shoulder rubs to loved ones, but becoming a massage therapist is quite a bit more complicated and involved than that. 

There are massage schools in most medium-sized cities and towns. If you live in a rural area, you may be challenged to find one near you, but for most individuals, finding one nearby will be simple. In fact, you may have several from which to choose.

A reputable school will be well-reviewed and will be recognized by your state’s licensing board. This is crucial as you’ll need to attend an accredited school so your program will count when you apply for your license later on.

Most massage therapy programs are at least five hundred hours long. You’ll be expected to excel in both academic and clinical classes. Your classroom instruction will include things like anatomy and physiology, professional ethics, body mechanics, pathology, and more. Your clinical coursework will give you the opportunity to learn how to massage future clients through hands-on practice.

Step 2: Take a Licensing Examination

Once you’ve graduated from your massage therapy program, you’ll need to take a state examination to demonstrate what you’ve learned. 

Some states have their own exams, but other states collectively accept either the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or the Board Certification Exam in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCETMB) or both. 

Many people find these exams somewhat challenging. Even after training and studying, many students fail them the first time. But take heart, you can take these tests as many times as you like.

Once you pass the exam, you can apply for licensing within your state.

Step 3: Apply for State Licensure

After you have completed your massage therapy coursework and you have passed the required examination for your state, you can apply for state licensure. 

This process is simple. You’ll have to fill out an application form. The licensing board will ask for proof that you have completed all of the required training and that you have passed the exam. You’ll also need to pay an application fee. 

Some states will also require you to obtain and show proof of liability insurance before granting you a license. 

Once you have submitted these things, you will be issued your license. The processing time can vary; some states are very quick in approving licensing applications, but others can take weeks or even months. 

Step 4: Continuing Education

Almost any career that requires licensing also requires licensees to complete continuing education coursework to renew. 

Although taking continuing education courses can seem like an unwanted task, you will likely find that they are very helpful for you, and you will end up enjoying them. These classes exist to refresh your memory in terms of what you learned in training. They can also teach you additional skills you can offer your clients. 

The amount of continuing education classes that you’ll need to take will depend on your state. However, it’s wise to take some classes each year instead of trying to earn a lot of credits in the few months before your license is about to expire. 

Additional Steps

After you finish the above steps, you’ll be a licensed massage therapist and you can begin looking for a position as a therapist at a spa, hospital, resort, or other location. There are also a number of additional steps you can take to advance your career as well.


Some massage therapists choose to learn additional, specific skills to specialize in one or more specific types of massage. Most basic massages offered at massage establishments today are Swedish massage, but there are so many other types.

People interested in massage to help relieve injuries may choose to learn more about deep tissue massage or sports massage. Others may wish to work with pregnant women and may wish to discover the beauty of pregnancy massage.

Still others may decide to become skilled at hot stone therapy, reiki massage, shiatsu massage, Thai massage, or other specific disciplines within the broader realm of massage therapy. 

Start Your Own Business

Many massage therapists choose to strike out on their own to start their own business. This is a wonderful idea, but there are several factors to consider before opening up shop. You will have to find and secure a location and you’ll need to get a business license. You’ll also need to learn how to file business taxes or find someone who will do them for you. 

You’ll also need to advertise your services and build up a consistent client base. Word of mouth will help, but keep in mind that it will take a while for your massage business to become successful. In time, however, you can succeed and your business can thrive.

Become a Licensed Massage Therapist Today

A career as a licensed massage therapist is exciting and rewarding, and it’s as easy as following the steps above. The process to get trained and licensed as a massage therapist is really quite simple, it just takes time, dedication, and desire.

If you’re looking for a career change, consider becoming a licensed massage therapist. Once you take the leap, you’ll be glad you did.

Ready to get a massage? Give us a call at (402) 384-8400 today! We offer a wide variety of massage options and can’t wait to help you feel great.  

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