How To Become Massage Therapist In California – Working legally as a massage therapist in California is different from other states. Whether you are a massage therapist moving to California, or a resident looking for a massage program, sorting out the regulations can be challenging and time consuming.
I will discuss the current regulations in California and break down the requirements into simple steps. Before long, you’ll know everything you need to do, or not do, to work as a professional massage therapist in that state.
How To Become Massage Therapist In California
Certification and licensing are not interchangeable terms. It is important to know the differences between the two before you begin the certification process.
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Licensing is a requirement that is neither voluntary nor mandatory. A government agency (board or department) regulates the profession. The passing of massage licensing laws or laws makes it illegal for anyone to do the work without a license. More than 40 states issue massage therapy licenses.
“Professional certification is a voluntary process whereby non-governmental professional organizations recognize individuals who have met certain qualifications.”
Certification in California is voluntary, as is NCTMB / BCTMB certification. The goal of this certification is to provide benefits to the community and the massage profession in California, which I will discuss in a moment.
CAMTC is not a state board. However, CAMTC was created by the California legislature and began accepting applications for massage certification in 2009. CAMTC is a private, for-profit corporation.
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The CAMTC Board of Directors, like other state massage boards, is volunteer. All volunteers are appointed by the massage associations of the city, county, law enforcement, massage school, Department of Consumer Affairs, and professional massage associations in California. For state massage boards, members are often appointed by the governor.
Before CAMTC was established, California massage professionals were often required to obtain a license or city/county permit in each city in which they practiced. Mobile massage licenses can be expensive and complicated to maintain. Or if a therapist works in one city and gets a job in a neighboring city, a new license is required.
CAMTC certification allows massage professionals to provide services anywhere in the State of California for one price, $150. There is no need to obtain many local permits.
Massage regulations are in place to protect the public, as massage by untrained therapists can be dangerous. Certified therapists must meet certain educational and exam requirements, as well as undergo a background check.
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CAMTC protects the professional titles, Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), and Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP). Only CAMTC certified therapists may use this title in their advertising.
Previously there were two levels of certification, Certified Massage Practitioner and Certified Massage Therapist. CMT has stricter requirements (500 hours or 250 hours and completion of an approved exam). Currently, California only certifies CMT.
A previously certified CMP can only use the title “CMP” and can continue to re-certify as a CMP, unless they pass the MBLEx and upgrade to a CMT.
If you choose not to be certified, you must comply with local requirements for massage therapists, which may require certification from CAMTC.
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Let’s say you choose not to certify, but move to Los Angeles. You must comply with local massage regulations. It just so happens that Los Angeles city regulations for massage establishments require massage therapists to be CAMTC certified.
Los Angeles City Code defines “Massage Therapist” as: “A person certified as a “Massage Therapist” by the California Board of Massage Therapy under Chapter 10.5 of the California Business and Professions Code” (link). San Mateo County Municipal Code 5.44.030 – CAMTC certification and local registration required. (a) Individual. On and after July 1, 2012, it is unlawful for any person to practice massage therapy for compensation as the sole owner or employee of a massage business or in any other capacity in the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County unless the person is a certified person. massage practitioner. (Link)
As you can see, certification really has benefits and is required in many parts of the state. Let’s move on to the steps to get certified by CAMTC.
All applicants must successfully complete a minimum of 500 hours in massage and related subjects (or equivalent credit units).
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All 500 hours must come from a CAMTC approved school program. The 500 hour requirement does not include online/distance/correspondence learning education.
Massage schools are closed all the time. For applications received after December 30, 2016, CAMTC will not accept any education from a closed California school unless the school:
CAMTC requires that education and training received outside of California “at least” match the requirements applied to California school programs.
A good indication that your program will meet the requirements of CAMTC is if your program is/has been approved by a national, regional or state authority that has “responsibility for approving vocational programmes.” CAMTC has a method for determining approval for each state, US territory, and Canadian province that registers/licenses massage therapists (Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador).
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CAMTC will require an officially sealed school transcript, directly from your approved educational institution, to evaluate whether the program meets CAMTC’s minimum requirements.
One significant update occurred in 2018, according to the CAMTC website, when CAMTC said it would no longer accept overseas/overseas education.
However, in 2023, it appears that they have made some changes to this statement. Here is more information for those with massage education abroad.
This is not a requirement after 1/1/2019! You can read more about SB 1480, which was signed into law, here.
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If you have previously passed one of the above exams in another state, you can complete a mobility/score request form from NCETMB or FSMTB, paying a small fee ($20-25) to forward the scores to CAMTC.
If you have not passed one of these exams, you must pass it to be certified. The MBLEx is the most commonly used entry-level exam in other states.
NCETMB and NCETM are no longer awarded. The BCETMB is not used by many other states for licensing exams and has higher work hour requirements than the MBLEx.
I had previously used Live Scan fingerprints for one of my state (Florida) massage licenses. Here are some suggestions:
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Following is the CAMTC Application Link. The fee for application and certification is $300. This number will increase in 2023.
CAMTC states that the process takes approximately ninety (90) days to complete applications that do not have any background or educational issues.
There are no continuing education (CE) requirements for recertification. The cost to recertify is $200 for two years. This will increase by $50 in 2023.
If your certification has expired more than six months, you must apply as a new applicant, including submitting a new life scanner fingerprint and meeting current educational standards and exam requirements.
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Governor Jerry Brown on September 22, 2016, extended the Massage Therapy Act, including the CAMTC voluntary certification program, for another four years (Assembly Bill 2194).
If you have any questions about becoming a Certified Massage Therapist in California, let me know in the comments below. Thank you!
Thanks for reading this post! In addition to the Massage Exam Academy, I provide continuing education in massage in Advanced Massage Techniques. I also write specifically about barefoot massage at Ashiatsu.net, and write about more general massage topics at Massage and Bloggywork.
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