As you may know, you cannot start working as a professional massage therapistwithout proper certification and licensing. The requirements you need to fulfill to be eligible for licensing are quite stringent, and there is no way for you to get around them.
You have to enroll in massage school and complete the program from an accredited institution. After graduation, you will be allowed to sit for the NMC exam. The NMC exam is a pre-requisite for a career in massage therapy. Until and unless you can ace the exam, you cannot work as a massage therapist.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication on your part to get through massage school. Not only do you have to attend lectures but also receive hands-on training from the instructors. Learning about the different types of massages you can perform is a must and you also have to study different subjects related to the massage therapy business.
In fact, some of the courses you take up at massage school prove quite useful in other fields as well. Some students continue to work part-time while attending massage school which could make it quite difficult to meet the demands of the degree.
That being said, the success rate of massage therapy students is quite high and a majority of them are able to graduate from massage school at the first attempt. After passing, you will be allowed to sit for the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).
As mentioned above, you can only sit for the exam once you have fulfilled certain requirements. Listed below are some of the requirements you have to fulfill:
- Complete at least 500 hours of massage training. Most massage schools provide the minimum required 500 hours of massage training. In fact, the average number of hours spent by a massage therapist on basic training is 633. The 500 hours have to be further broken down into:
- 200 hours of massage theory, in which students learn about massage without any training involved.
- 100 hours of physiology and anatomy coursework that has to be completed in a classroom.
- 2 hours of ethics.
- Extra training in different aspects of massage therapy business like alternative medicine and pathology.
All these requirements have to be met down to the last detail in order for you to be eligible for the NMC exam. You cannot take the test unless you have completed at least 500 hours of massage training. There is no shortcut to this and therefore, you will have to put in the required time and effort.
The NMC Exam
You need to have an idea of the type of questions included in the NMC exam so that you can prepare accordingly. If you don’t know what the test comprises of, you may not be able to prepare effectively. The test itself is quite comprehensive and exhaustive, and it has no less than 160 questions.
The wide range of questions in the exam covers different courses you are taught at massage school. The questions are also about the different rules and regulations and laws regarding massage therapy. You may also be asked questions about your skills and different modalities of massages.
The purpose of the exam is to ensure that you are fully prepared to enter the field as a massage therapist. The fact that the test is comprehensive ensures that you know all there is to know about massage therapy.
This is one reason why you need to complete extensive training before you can take the NMC exam. A few of the subjects and topics covered in the exam are pathology, body systems, professional massage standards, anatomy, business & legal practices, kinesiology and ethics.
How Much Does It Cost?
You have to pay $225 for the exam. The fee is non-refundable which means that even if you don’t manage to pass it, the fee wouldn’t be given back to you. This is why it is important that you achieve a passing score and many do because they put in the required time and effort to prepare for the exam.
As far as scoring is concerned, the test follows a ‘scale scoring’ method. This means that the difficulty of the questions determine its score. The more difficult a question is, the more weight it would hold in the final score. You have to achieve a score of 300 to clear the test.
The range of scores usually goes from 100 all the way up to 400. As you can see, ‘300’ is near the higher range of scores that students can achieve in the NMC exam. Hence, it is possible that you might fail the NMC exam the first time round. You have to be prepared in the event you do not pass the exam initially.
What to Do If You Fail the NMC Exam?
Students from any massage program can fail the exam so you shouldn’t take the test for granted. The test itself is not difficult but, you might fail to achieve the minimum score required to clear the exam because questions are weighted different.
Even if you fail the NMC exam, you should not be disheartened. You will be allowed to retake the exam and because of past experience, the test can feel easier the second time around for you. The Board tries to get a majority of the students to pass the test, keeping in mind the unprecedented rate of growth anticipated in demand for massage therapists well into the future.
The result of the NMC exam contains a detailed breakdown of the score you receive. This gives you a clear idea of the areas in which you failed to get the desired score. You can also identify the areas where you performed relatively better. The next time you take the test, you can prepare based on your performance in the test the previous time around. You can study targeted areas of the course material where you can improve.
You have to get in touch with the Board within 60 days of receiving your results to notify them that you wish to retake the test. You will have to pay the fee again, for which you will be given three months to prepare and take the exam. You can use that period to prepare for the exam and ensure you perform better.
The bottom line is that failing is not the end of the world. If you fail the NMC exam, you can retake it and with a bit more effort you can pass it the second time around. Whatever you do, don’t be disheartened by your poor performance the first time and think of giving up as a result. Better yet, go in fully prepared and knock it out on your first attempt.