Entrance Requirements of Massage Schools in California

Read the requirements to attend massage schools in California.

California is one of the most beautiful and attractive states to live and work in.  And while it is also one of the most populated states in the country, it is also home to the most trained massage therapists in America.

There are 43,200 professional massage therapists in the state. Additionally, there is quite a bit of variation when it comes to the California massage therapist salary.

Depending upon the location you decide to settle into, your salary will differ among others.  For example, in Anaheim, California your salary could range from $35,000 to $65,000 a year; to whereas, in San Francisco, salaries are much higher ranging from $40,000 to about $70,000 a year.

Continue reading this article to find out more information regarding the massage industry in California.  Come be a part of such a beautiful, opportunistic region in the United States.

Scroll straight to the bottom to see a list of the top massage therapy schools in California.

Requirements to Attend Massage Schools in California 

The state of California is a promising place to complete and obtain your massage therapy certification.  To support that, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) has created and regulates the massage industry in this particular state.

In this article you will find the rules and regulations, massage therapist certification process and what massage schools in California are the best for following your dream of becoming a massage therapist.

Massage Schools in California

You must fully complete the requirements stated below. Keep in mind however that competition is vast in California.

Continue reading to find out more on how you can become a fully certified and successful massage therapist in the state of California.

Note:  California grants a State certification or local City Permits to practice massage. Only those with the state certification from CAMTC are allowed to call themselves CMT (Certified Massage Therapist).

Practitioners who opt not to get the California state certification for massage need to get a permit from each of the cities / localities in which they plan to practice massage. Each city has its own requirements.

Schooling Details and Requirements (Credit Hours)

Massage therapy schools in California were created under the California Massage Therapy Council to provide you as the aspiring massage therapist the most qualified and exceptional education available in the United States.

With clear standards and professional instruction you can become one of the following in California:

  • A Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) – to become a CMT you must meet the required minimum of 500 hours of massage education and training at approved massage schools in California.
  • A Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP) – the CMP is not required to undergo as much education, but must complete at least 250 hours of education and training.

After you have begun your education you will find that the approved massage therapy schools in California provide you with all the courses you need to become fully certified to work in the entire state of California.

Additionally, the fees are very affordable and the education is beyond compare.  At the California Massage Therapy Council website, you can find printable brochures and posters that fully describe the education process in the state of California.  You can find these printable documents by visiting the link provided here.

The school you decide to attend must be nationally accredited and state approved by the California Bureau for Private Post secondary Education, a California community college, or an approved school by another body listed in California Business and Professions Code Section 4600(a).

It is important to note that the Council does not accredit the massage schools in California, but it does approve schools in the state of California.

License Qualifying Massage Schools in California

The following is a brief list of some of the approved massage therapy schools in the state of California.

However, there are other massage schools in California (more than 40) that you can look into prior to choosing your education.  You may visit this website to locate additional massage therapy schools in California.


Alhambra Medical University

25 South Raymond Ave. #300

Alhambra, CA 91801

Email: admission@alhambramedu.com

Phone: 626-289-7719


Everest College

2215 W. Mission Road

Alhambra, CA 91803

Phone: 626-979-4940


South Baylo University

1126 North Brookhurst Street

Anaheim, CA 92801

Email: admissions@southbaylo.edu

Phone: 714-533-1495


Acupressure Institute

1533 Shattuck Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94709

Email: info@acupressureinstitute.com

Phone: 800-442-2232


Bryan College

3580 Wilshire Blvd. #400

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Phone: 877-484-8850


Licensing/Certification Requirements

Depending upon your education and career path, there are differing licensing and certification requirements that are not set by massage schools in California.

The following is a brief description of each career pathway set by the California Massage Therapy Council:

250-499 Hours of Massage Education

Consequently this particular career path grants you the title of becoming a CMP, or Certified Massage Practitioner.  If you want to learn more about this career path, you may visit this link.

However if you want to become a Certified Massage Practitioner, you must have 250 massage education hours, including 100 hours in anatomy and physiology, contraindications, health and hygiene, and business and ethics at approved massage schools in California.

To apply to become a Certified Massage Practitioner, visit this website provided by the California Massage Therapy Council in which you will find the forms and online payment options for applications.

500+ Hours of Massage Education

If you have at least 500 hours of massage education, then you are eligible for applying to become a CMT, or Certified Massage Therapist in California.

Hence, 250 hours of this should come from approved massage schools in California, with the remaining 250 hours required coming from an approved school, or from a continuing education provider.  To apply for a Certified Massage Therapist, please visit this provided link.

Most noteworthy in the state of California is the requirement to take and pass either the MBLEx or the NCETMB examinations, only if you are applying to become a Certified Massage Therapist, rather than the Certified Massage Practitioner.  For additional information about these examinations, please visit the following linked websites:

  • MBLEx – the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination
  • NCETMB – the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

To apply to become a certified massage therapist in California, be sure to look over the CAMTC Application Checklist.  The required documents and actions that you must take for applying include the following:

  • Find and send in your school transcripts to the California Massage Therapy Council
  • Send in proof of your passing an exam, although passing an exam is not a requirement
  • Send in your scanned fingerprints completed in the State of California – The live scan instructions can be found here.
  • Pay your application fee of $150
  • Submit a passport size photo
  • Photocopy and send in your driver’s license or state ID

Key Agencies/Boards involved and their contact information

The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) is the main governing organization that oversees and regulates the massage industry within the state of California.

Thus the purpose of the Council is to provide instruction and rules for the massage therapist certification process, to protect the public and to enforce laws and regulations as they relate to the massage profession.

The Mission of the CAMTC is “to protect the public by certifying qualified massage professionals in California.”  This Council was created by the California Legislature through the enactment of California Business and Professions Code Section 4600 et seq.

If you would like to contact the California Massage Therapy Council about the massage therapy licensing process or the rules and regulations, please visit their website or consider the following information:


The California Massage Therapy Council

1 Capitol Mall, Suite 320

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-669-5336

Fax: 916-669-5337


Requirements to Start a Massage Business in California

To start a massage business in California, it is advised that you contact and pursue assistance from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Additionally, contacting the California Small Business Development Center is a step in the right direction as well.  You can visit this website to learn more about them.  Starting your business here involves many decisions, forms and fees.

Below is a list of some of the important information you will need to plan, prepare and operate your business in California:

  • Research and Plan for your business prior to opening.  This may include contacting the Small Business Development Center and writing out your goals and business plans.  Hence you must figure out how you plan to raise money and how you hope to become successful.
  • Choose a Location.  Choosing the right location for your massage therapy business is very important, especially in such a large state such as California.  For that reason, consider zoning regulations and ease of access.  Visit this website to learn more about location choices.
  • Decide How to Finance Your Business.  You need to figure out how you will operate with the adequate amount of money and funding.  Hopefully your goal is to grow and become successful, but this all begins with the adequate amount of monetary support.
  • Choose Your Business Structure.  Are you planning to be a sole proprietor, a partnership or a corporation?  After you have decided on this, you will need to register with the state and set up the appropriate taxes for your organization.
  • Name Your Business.  Naming your business must be completed legally.  Fictitious business names must be obtained through your local county Clerk Recorder office.  You can find your local Clerk Recorder by clicking here.

Massage Certification Renewal Process

Massage schools in California most likely cannot help you with re certification or renewal processes. Thus you must renew your massage therapy certification every 2-years after you initially receive your certification.  To renew, you may complete one of the following two requirements:

You can recertify 6-weeks before your certification expires.  The California Massage Therapy Council will notify you by email or mail that your certificate is about to expire and that you need to renew.  Thus you have enough time to update all contact information 30 days prior to recertification; this is considered a courtesy to the Council.

The two-year renewal fee is $150.  However if you are late renewing your massage therapy certificate, then the Council may penalize you with a late fee.

Finally, once your certification has expired, you will not be able to recertify online, you must either be present or mail your application in.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Council at the following:

By Phone: 916-669-5336; or

By Mail: 1 Capitol Mall, Suite 320 – Sacramento, CA 95814

Massage Certificate / License Reciprocity

To be granted the title of Certified Massage Therapist in California through reciprocity, you must however first hold a valid certificate or license issued by another United States state or Canadian province whose licensing requirements meet or exceed California requirements.

Massage Schools in California 

So if your massage education is from a school in another country or a non-qualifying Canadian province, then please follow this link for the “CAMTC Policies Regarding Massage Education Received Outside of the United States.”

Although if your current massage certificate or license in another State is expired, make sure you first reactivate it before you apply for reciprocity.

Note: Specific personnel information, office addresses, fees, payments etc. may change over time. Although we do our best to keep this site up to date, please ensure you contact the state board to obtain the most recent information at the time of your application.   

Below are top massage schools in California near you. We have an arrangement with all of them that allow you to request information for FREE.

Matching School Ads

Blue Cliff College was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1987 with the goal of becoming one of the most respected Massage Therapy training centers in the nation. In June of 1989, the College in Louisiana received its Proprietary School License from the state. In 1998, the Continuing Education College was proud to receive accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) is a recognized accrediting agency by the US Department of Education.


  • Massage Therapy - Diploma
Locations:  Fayetteville
Start your career with training from Schools of Medical Massage. Our massage therapy programs include courses in anatomy, ethics, and business, so our students are fully equipped to succeed in their career.


  • Massage Therapy
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Branford Hall Career Institute offers career-focused education that gives you the job skills you need to make the leap into some of today's hottest careers.


  • Massage Therapy
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At American Institute, we believe you can become whatever you want to be, and we’re ready to help you get there. We pride ourselves on working hard to deliver quality, innovative education to our students that gives them the skills to begin or enhance their careers. We try to help our students meet their goals of changing or enhancing their careers, and also help prospective employers of our graduates in meeting the workforce needs of the 21st century while actively participating in the communities we operate within.


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  West Hartford

Cortiva Institute School of Massage Therapy's innovative program will help you learn the art of massage therapy and introduce you to a range of career opportunities. Through a holistic approach to education, you'll be well-trained to work in clinics, hospitals, health clubs, spas, with sport teams, or to start a private practice.


Classes start November 13!


  • Professional Massage Therapy
Locations:  Las Vegas

Dorsey has been a trusted career training school in Michigan for over 80 years!

We offer training programs designed to prepare our students for careers in fields such as healthcare, beauty, culinary, and skilled trades




  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Madison Heights
Successful careers begin at the Milan Institute. We offer quality hands-on training, experienced faculty and a staff committed to helping you realize your goals.


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Bakersfield

Get a hands-on education at Lincoln Tech. Designed for today’s tough job market, our in-depth programs cover many fields including: Health Sciences, Business and Information Technology, Hospitality, Automotive Technology, HVAC Technology and Electrical Systems Technology. Financial Aid is available for those who qualify. Programs vary by campus.


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Lincoln

Pursue your education with Platt College (Oklahoma). We offer hands-on training programs in the culinary arts, allied health, and nursing fields.

*Programs vary by location.

*High school diploma or GED required.

*Licensed by OBPVS.


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Lawton

Arizona College prepares students to work in the 'real world' of medicine. With the use of lecture and laboratory teaching, we provide our students with hands on experience.


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Glendale

Link to video lesson.

Learn how to become a massage therapy school teacher in California here.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

24 comments on “Entrance Requirements of Massage Schools in California
  1. Sat Ardas Singh says:

    Thank you for your website. I am a CMT in NC, and I am wondering if my state is one which “meets or exceeds CA requirements” in order to get reciprocity from the CA massage board. Is there a list of what states meet or exceed CA requirements?
    Thank you for you time. I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. How can i get in touch with the admin of this site?

  3. Stephanie says:

    I am a Malaysian looking for information on working overseas in the US as a massage therapist. I understand that each state requires a license to be able to work as a therapist. If I attend an accredited school there in the US, complete the required hours, sit for the licensing exam, acquire the license, will I then be permitted to work in the said state? Or do I have to have a green card or visa?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Stephanie – Not all States require a license. Some States do not regulate massage. To work in the US, in any field, you need a valid work permit (the Social Security card) indicates this. a green card or a visa that is valid for employment therefore would be necessary for a non US citizen.

    • Moe says:

      you need green card or U.S Citizenship

      • Neal Lyons says:

        to legally work in the US you need a valid work permit / Visa / citizenship. your Social Security card will indicate whether it is valid for employment

  4. Lori molhook says:

    I am a Master’s prepared nurse looking to do an advanced or medicsl massage therapy program. Are there any schools that offer partial online courses.

  5. Vaniece Proctor says:

    I am from Canada and want to become a massage therapists in California. If I do my schooling and become a qualified therapist here , will I still need to be licensed in California? Or what would I have to do? Would I have to complete school all over again ? Or should I do the schooling in California in the first place? Just looking for help,.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Vaniece, the best option is to always do your schooling in the jurisdiction you plan to practice in. Is there a reason you are contemplating doing schooling in Canada to begin with?

  6. Tonia Lach says:

    Is it illegal to offer a “certificate” class in the state of California even if it doesn’t give the student credit toward their CA liscence?

  7. I am looking to start practicing massage again – Craniosacral. I received my 550 hr cmt in 1995 at a school (acupressure, shiatsu & sports therapy) that does not exist anymore but I have my transcripts. Got another 60hrs at Esalen Institute, 100 hours at Twin Lakes in Santa Cruz & have transcripts. What steps do I need to take to get my license? I have a Healing Arts Center already wanting to hire me as I am going to get my certification in Craniosacral Therapy. I need help figuring out the steps to take to get my license. Can I legally practice Craniosacral with just the certification and liability insurance? I also have S-Corp. Please help 🙂

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Steve – legally you need your license. every state has a different term for it but in the end you need what the state board requires. you should be able to leverage some of the credentials you already have so that you don’t have to go through the full process over again. have you contacted your state board? how did it go? where are you now in the process?

  8. John Petty says:

    I can find nowhere at the CMTC where it is a requirement to be certified if I wish to practice my trade. I just cannot call myself a Certified Massage Therapist. Is this not correct?

  9. Penny says:

    Hi, I am a licensed esthetician and I thought I was a certified massage therapist. I have owned my own small day spa now for almost 20 years.
    I didn’t know we now need to be licensed in massage. I have a certificate for 700 hours in massage but the school I went to closed a while ago I think. I don’t have any transcripts just the certificate. How do I go about getting licensed? I have recently gone through breast cancer and now getting divorced and I don’t think I have it in me at my age now to go back to school. I don’t know how I missed all these changes, well I have been going through a lot over the years so that is why. Any thoughts or advice on what I should do would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Penny – the requirements in your state and laid out clearly on the website. please have a read and let us know of any specific questions you have after reading. it’s best to speak to the board and inform them on what you have already done and learn what more is required from you to be officially licensed/certified. all the best

  10. George Watson says:

    HI, I’m currently a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant In California and I’d like to become CMT certified. How much of my PTA work would be able to transfer over to attaining a massage therapy license?

  11. Azita says:

    Hi,I am a registered massage therapist graduated in Canada and currently work as a registered massage therapist in Toronto.i am planning to move to California and wondering what should I start from to be a registered massage therapist in California.is there any program for Canadian massage therapist who are willing to move to California for living and working. Please advice.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Azita, you can go through the reciprocity process which will involve a matching of your canadian credentials to the california credentials as a first step. the state board should be able to guide you as to what the next steps should be

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