The state of Rhode Island requires licensure for massage therapists, which includes receiving 500 hours of education at an approved Rhode Island Massage Therapy School, as well as passing the MBLEx National Massage Exam and a background check.
Massage schools and teachers at massage schools are regulated by the state board of governors for higher education. Massage schools are defined as post secondary proprietary schools, and must have licensure and approval from the state.
Per the state board of governors for higher education, “qualifications for instructors will depend on the kind of instruction offered and will be considered on an individual basis.” None the less, they do offer some general guidance for requirements to teach at a proprietary school, including the requirement that all instructors have licenses and recent experience in the field in which they will teach.
Educational Requirements for Massage Teachers
Within the state of Rhode Island, massage instructors must hold a valid Rhode Island Massage license to teach massage therapy at a licensed massage therapy school.
This requires that the teacher receive 500 hours of education. The license application requires the following documents:
- $65 Application Fee
- Certification of Passing the MBLEx Examination
- Birth Certificate Copy
- Criminal Background Check
- CPR/First Aid Certification
- 3 Personal Letters of Reference
Beyond the education required for a license, there is no additional education required by the state to become a massage therapy instructor.
The experience required to become a massage instructor legally within the state of Rhode Island is not entirely clear. The state regulations for proprietary schools require that each teacher is licensed in their field, but if licensure does not exist, each teacher must have at least 5 years experience.
Given that licensure does exist for massage therapists, the 5 year minimum experience requirement should not apply. However, the state regulation goes on to say that “Upon initial employment at the school, each instructor must provide evidence of sufficiently recent educational or occupational experience to assure up‐to‐date knowledge of content, practice and technique in the teaching fields along with knowledge of current teaching methods.”
Thus it seems qualifications are determined on a case by case basis. Other states require a minimum of 2 years recent experience, and it is likely that Rhode Island would require that of its teachers at a minimum, but it is possible that they could choose to require the full 5 years experience even in the licensed career of massage therapy. For further information, see section 1.5 of the Rhode Island Requirements for Proprietary Schools.
Continuing Education Requirements for Teachers
Though continuing education is not required to maintain a massage license in the state of Rhode Island, the requirements for proprietary school teachers might be interpreted to require some form of continuing education to ensure that teachers keep up to date in the field.
This is determined on a case by case basis, as the requirements are broadly written for a number of different secondary trade schools rather than being specific to the instruction of massage. In most states, at least 12-24 hours of massage continuing education is required per year to maintain a license, with some portion of those hours being devoted to professional ethics.
It is possible that the Rhode Island board of education may choose to require this for massage teachers on a case by case basis.
Though not required by the state, most practicing therapists maintain professional liability insurance through a massage professional organization, such as AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) or ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals). AMTA’s professional membership explicitly includes insurance for massage professionals working as classroom teachers.
There are no explicit fees for teaching massage therapy, but professional liability insurance is strongly recommended. Massage professional liability insurance ranges from $199 to $235 dollars annually, and is strongly recommended, though not required. A Rhode Island State massage therapy license is required, and costs $65.