Have you ever wondered what is required to be a licensed massage therapist in Oregon? Ever wonder what the “licensed” part means? Finding the perfect massage therapist is heaven, but choosing one who is licensed is so much more important.

Massage therapy is not regulated or governed by a national board or policy. There is a national certification called the NCBTMB, but that certification does not legally allow a massage therapist to practice in every state. It is only a professional certification. The profession is governed by individual state laws that vary. In Oregon, massage is governed by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy.

Here is what is required for initial licensure in Oregon:

  • Pass the Oregon Jurisprudence (law) exam, and
  • Pass a Board approved written National Examination (MBLEX, NCBTMB, CESI)
  • The Board requires 625 hours of education (as of 2019) from an accredited or Department of Education approved school with the following:
    • A minimum of 200 hours of health sciences, consisting of Anatomy and Physiology, Pathology, and Kinesiology; and
    • A minimum of 300 hours of Massage Theory and Practical Application, Clinical Practice, Business Development, Sanitation, Communication, and Ethics
    • The remaining 125 hours may be in any of the above subject areas

In addition to these requirements, the applicant must be CPR certified and be fingerprinted for a national criminal background check. And unfortunately, none of this is free. The cost to apply for a license is about $250. Massage therapists are also required to have professional liability insurance.

License Renewal

License renewal is required every two years and there is a different set of criteria to meet.
  • Licensee must complete 25 hours of Board-approved continuing education each renewal period
    • 4 hours must be in Professional Ethics, Boundaries, and/or Communication
    • An update in 2020 now requires completion of the OHA Pain Management Module
  • CPR/First Aid certification is required

The renewal license costs $155.

Click here to see which continuing education classes I have taken.

Being Licensed is a Big Deal

Under Oregon law, massage therapists must be licensed to perform massage. Licensure ensures that the massage therapist is educated and competent, thereby protecting the public from harm. For example, an educated and licensed massage therapist will know which pathologies, medications, or injuries are contraindications to massage, either locally or systemically.  She will know how to properly drape the areas of the body that legally must remain covered. How to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as viruses, will be understood and practiced. Being licensed means the massage therapist has agreed to be held to the Standards of Professional Conduct, which is described in detail in the Oregon Administrative Rules.

By law, massage therapists are required to display their current license in the area they work, so be sure to look for it at your next massage appointment. You should also check out your massage therapist on the Oregon Board’s license verification webpage. There you can see a therapist’s status and if any disciplinary actions have been taken against the therapist. Here’s mine.

Licensure protects the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. I wear it like a badge of honor.