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Massage License vs Certification: What’s the Difference?


Massage therapy promotes a healthy body and mind through the physical manipulation of muscles and soft tissue. A trained massage therapist can help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated all day. They go through rigorous massage therapy training that focuses on addressing issues like injury or pain. They use techniques to increase relaxation and relieve stress for their clients. They can receive a license or certification at the end of their training. In this blog, the difference between the two will be discussed.

Massage Therapy License

A massage therapy license requires more formal education and training than a certificate. Receiving a license tells your clients that you’re a state-approved massage therapist. Most states, including PA, have individual licensing boards known as Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTBs). You must meet your state’s FSMTB qualifications to receive a license. In many states, a degree under which you earn your license is required by law if you wish to start your own practice.

Most state licensing boards require you to take and pass the Massage and Body Licensing Examination (MBLex), which is an entry-level test. Even though this exam is entry-level, there are educational requirements you need to meet to qualify for it, such as proof that you’ve completed a state-approved massage therapy program. There are a number of massage therapy schools in states like PA that provide the education and training necessary to pass the exam. School costs vary from state to state as well.

The training and education you undergo for a massage therapy license is more comprehensive than for certification. You’ll learn more than just how to perform massage therapy. Training will also include understanding how to handle different types of customers and how to work with special needs clients. Plus, you’ll learn about the latest developments and what progress is being made in the field.



Massage Therapy Certification

Of the two branches, massage therapy certification is more accessible. School costs are less expensive for people who want to be certified. A certificate proves you have advanced knowledge and practical skills. It also shows your clients you’re dedicated to this career path.

While the massage therapy license is required by law, certification is voluntary. It’s an excellent choice if you already work in the field and want to advance your career, and you’ll be able to apply for higher-paying jobs.

Most states offer a certificate program for massage therapy. The certificate is granted by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). There are several requirements you must meet to earn your certificate. You need to complete and have approved 750 hours of education and 250 hours of hands-on experience. Next, you must pass a criminal background check. And, of course, you need to pass the Board Certification Exam.

You can find out more about the differences between obtaining a license vs. certification through a credited massage school in King of Prussia, PA, like the Cortiva Institute of Massage Therapy & Skin Care School. Contact us via email at info@cortiva.edu today for help deciding what option is best for you.

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Cortiva Institute is a network of massage therapy and skin care schools — all united by a common mission and standards that help students, clients and the community thrive.

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