Massage Therapy Schools & Requirements in California

California is one of the most beautiful and attractive states to live and work in.  It is also one of the most populated states in the country.  This particular state is also home to the most trained massage therapists in America.

At nearly 43,200 professional massage therapists in the state, wouldn’t it be an exciting and competitive journey to take on?  What’s more is that 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.

Brief Summary of the Main Highlights

The state of California is a promising place to complete and obtain your massage therapy certification.  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 schools are of the best for following your dream of becoming a massage therapist in California.

You must fully complete the below-mentioned requirements and possess much drive and aspiration, simply because the competition here is very large.  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 schools 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 here 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 an approved massage therapy school.
  • 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 school, but it does approve schools in the state of California.

Licensure Qualifying Programs

The following is a brief list of some of the approved massage therapy schools in the state of California.  However, there are other schools (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


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


Phone: 714-533-1495


Acupressure Institute

1533 Shattuck Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94709


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

250-499 Hours of Massage Education

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

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 an approved school.

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.  250 hours of this should come from an approved school, 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.

In the state of California, you are required 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:

  • Download and fully complete the CAMTC Application for Certification
  • 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.  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.  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.  Consider zoning regulations and ease of access.  Visit this website to learn more about location choices.
  • Decide How to Finance Your Business.  This is an important step.  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

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.  You must update all contact information 30 days prior to recertification; this is considered a courtesy to the Council.

The two-year renewal fee is $150.  If you are late renewing your massage therapy certificate, then the Council may penalize you with a late fee.  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 first hold a valid certificate or license issued by another United States state or Canadian province whose licensing requirements meet or exceed California requirements.

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.”

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.   

Here is a list of the top massage therapy schools near you. We have an arrangement with all of them that allow you to request information for FREE. Please do so and take that first step toward a better future.

Matching School Ads

Prepare for a Career That You Will Love … in Massage Therapy!

Do you want a career that offers the satisfaction of helping people and a work environment that is positive and exciting?  With the education you will receive at the Virginia School of Massage, that career can be yours. 


  • Professional Massage Therapy Program
Locations:  Charlottesville

Experience the Rewards of Caring, With ECPI’s Medical Careers Institute, you can Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in 2.5 Years or Your Associate’s Even Sooner through Our Year-Round Schedule!


  • Massage Therapy - Associate's
Locations:  Newport News

Miller-Motte Technical College (MMTC) has a history of helping students succeed through hands-on education and career training. Our faculty and staff work to ensure that when you've completed your program, you're truly ready to begin your career.


  • Massage Therapy - Diploma
Locations:  Lynchburg

Fortis Institute can give you the skills you need to train for a career in the healthcare field.

* Programs vary by location

* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information


  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Norfolk

We know that you want to learn more than just the basics, so we do things a little differently. Our focus is on you—the student—as a whole. At CMSM you will learn valuable business, life, and communication skills which set you apart from other massage therapists—skills that prepare you to achieve success both professionally and personally.



  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Frederick

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed. Drawing from over 30 years of career school experience.


  • Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Massage Therapy
Locations:  Chesapeake
Turn your talents into a career. Nationally recognized and accredited Platt College offers degree programs in Graphic Design, Multimedia, IT Networking and Paralegal.


  • Respiratory Therapy

Virginia College  continues the tradition ofgiving lives new direction, fulfilling our mission statement tostudents wherever they live and offering the chance to pursue adegree while maintaining commitments to work and family.


  • AAS - Occupational Therapy Assistant
Locations:  Richmond

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.


  • Occupational Therapy Assistant (AS)
Locations:  Glen Allen
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!


  • B.S. in Behavioral Health Science - Trauma

Link to video lesson.

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+

Posted in Certification, Massage Therapy Schools, State by State Requirements
9 comments on “Massage Therapy Schools & Requirements 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.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      The CA board may have a specific list showing how other states bump up against CA. On our site, we provide general reciprocity guidance. For example, if you go to our CA page and read about reciprocity, then you can read our NC page and try to determine whether you can make your situation work. Otherwise, you will have to contact CA and ask whether your current qualifications being in NC qualify. The key is to first determine whether reciprocity is accepted in the States you are looking at, which is what our website articles will help you with.

  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.

  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.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Lori, please go through our search database. there are tons of schools that offer the online piece of massage training. please let us know how you make out

  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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A Must Have iPhone App for All Massage Therapists
Massage Trigger Points App on iTunes
Massage School Topics

Top 10 Massage Career Tips

Learn exactly what you need to do to expedite your career success as a Massage Therapist.

Get your first tip NOW by entering your email address below.

More tips will follow weekly!