In Colorado, the requirements for massage therapy practice and education are overseen by the Colorado Office of Massage Therapy Licensure, which is a division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. If your school is located in Colorado, your graduates will be eligible for licensure in Colorado only if the school provides a minimum of 500 hours of instruction and is approved by the Division of Private and Occupational Schools, certified by the Colorado Community College System, or accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency for massage therapy programs.
If you are starting a new private massage therapy program, you most likely will need to get approval from the Division of Private and Occupational Schools, since national accreditation is generally not granted until after the school has been in operation for several years. You may also be considered an approved school if you have a school code in good standing with the NCBMTB.
Colorado Division of Private and Occupational Schools
To obtain approval from the Division of Private and Occupational Schools, you must file an application for a Certificate of Approval to Operate a Colorado Private Occupational School. Colorado law requires that any school not exempted must obtain a Certificate of Approval.
Examples of exempted schools include public schools, parochial schools, schools that are strictly avocational, four-year universities that grant degrees, private elementary and secondary schools that are providing basic education, schools that are free to the student, training provided by an employer for its employees, and nurse aide training, flight instruction, and yoga schools. Few massage schools would fall under these exemptions, so a private massage therapy training program would likely be required to have this approval.
The application for the certificate of approval requires you to provide school information such as name, address, website, telephone numbers and essential personnel. In addition, you must indicate the type of business, whether your school is a franchise, and whether you have more than one campus. Second, you must indicate who would be considered an agent for your school (a person who will be in the business of selling your services), and each agent must submit an agent permit application and the required fee (about $300 per agent).
You must provide a surety bond or alternative in an amount not less than $5,000, based on your anticipated tuition and fees. You must provide background information on the owners and officers of the school including previous schools owned or operated, previous bankruptcy, felony convictions or charges pending, misdemeanor convictions or charges pending, professional misconduct, license denial or revocation, and any professional disciplinary actions.
You must also provide the name of your financial institution, information on financial aid you accept, your tuition range, and accreditation information, if you are accredited. You must send in a Program and/or Stand-alone Course Approval Application. For a new school, the fee for this is included in your application fee (which is about $5000). Finally, you must attach documents to support the information you gave on the application form.
Once all materials have been received, the Division will review it and make a decision on whether to approve your school. The Division advises to allow at least 60 days for review, revisions and a site visit before approval can be given. Once the school has been approved, you will need to provide periodic reports to the Division. The approval expires after three years and must be renewed to continue operating in Colorado.
National Certification Board for Massage Therapy and Bodywork (NCBMTB)
The NCBMTB will provide a school code to massage therapy schools that meet its minimum requirements for massage schools. This includes a 500-hour or more curriculum with at least 125 hours of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology; 200 hours of in-class, supervised instruction in assessment, theory, and application; 40 hours of pathology; 10 hours of business and ethics (at least 6 must be in ethics; and 125 hours in related subjects that will complete your massage therapy education.
Assuming you are a new school and have not become accredited, you will be required to provide information in addition to the application. This includes proof of your business license, proof of school ownership, a list of your instructors with their resumes and qualifications, a copy of the credentials for the licensed massage therapists working at your school, your school’s attendance policy, your school’s course description and catalog, your syllabus outline for each course, a copy a sample transcript, and a breakdown of your instruction hours.
NCBMTB school codes are needed for your graduates to be able to obtain certification from NCBMTB. There is no cost to the school for obtaining a code. You will have to renew your school’s code every 2-5 years.
To open a private massage therapy school in Colorado, you will have to provide a minimum of 500 hours of instruction and, in most cases, obtain approval from the Colorado Division of Private and Occupational Schools. Obtaining an approved school code from NCBMTB provides proof that your program meets the educational requirements of the state of Colorado.
The cost to obtain approval from the state is about $5000, in addition to agent fees and surety bond requirements. The Division advises to allow at least 60 days for review, revisions and a site visit before approval can be given.