Illinois Massage Therapy Schools & Licensing Requirements

Illinois is the 5th most populous state in the U.S. and Chicago the 3rd most populous city, making the state of Illinois an excellent one for practicing as a massage therapist or establishing your business. There are also a large number of massage therapy schools in Illinois, offering ample opportunities to you as a future therapist.

In this article, you will find more information on licensure, how to apply and renewals as you pursue your massage therapy license in the state of Illinois.  As you embark on this journey, be open minded, ready for opportunities to arise, all the while following the rules and regulations.

By doing so, you will one day become a very successful massage therapist here in the state of Illinois.

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

Brief Summary Of The Main Highlights

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation provides rules and oversight for the massage industry in the state of Illinois.  Here, as you work towards your license, you will find that there are several stipulations that you must follow prior to becoming a licensed massage therapy professional in this particular state.

Understand that you must be at least 18 years of age and be of good moral character.  Good moral character includes no convictions of crime, or else your application will be revoked.  As you continue reading, you will find what it takes to become a professional massage therapist here in Illinois.

Schooling Details And Requirements (Credit Hours)

Illinois takes pride in the schooling that it offers, particularly to those who pursue a professionally licensed career, such as massage therapy.

Education is one of the requirements you will find is imperative to your obtaining a license in Illinois.  Not only is it a requirement for you to fulfill, it is also a great way to supplement your massage therapy career.

Below are the requirements set by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for you to look into and pursue.  You must choose one of the following:

  • As of January 1st, 2014, you are required to have successfully completed a massage therapy program with a minimum of 600 hours, approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and have passed a competency examination approved by the Department;
  • Or, you must hold a current valid massage therapy license from another jurisdiction having licensure requirements that include the completion of a program of at least 500 hours.

Licensure Qualifying Programs

There are 44 approved schools in Illinois that provide the adequate education that is required of you. A partial list is included below for your consideration. For a complete list you can visit this site.

Licensing/Certification Requirements

To fill out your application, be sure to visit the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for a printable application, or stop by their office to pick one up.  You can visit their website by following this link. To receive a 2-year license, you must submit completed application forms together with the required documentation, an electronic scan of fingerprints done by an approved vendor and the fee of $175 to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The required documentation includes:

  • Application form
  • An official transcript or supporting documents issued by the school that you attended
  • Criminal Background Check

Additionally, you must also instruct the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) to forward an official report of your examination records directly to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  The following is the information you will need to have your scores and records sent to:

Documentation to be sent to:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation

P.O. Box 7007

Springfield, IL 62791

As for the fingertip scan, you must have this completed by an approved vendor.  You may visit the website linked here to find one of the approved companies.

Illinois law requires that you as the licensee of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation keep the Department notified of your current address. This means that if you choose to relocate, or move your business to another city, you must notify and update your records through the Department.  This can be done through submission to the above address or online at their website.

Key Agencies / Boards involved and their contact information

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the primary organization for overseeing and regulating the massage industry in Illinois alone.  This particular profession was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department in 2003.

There are seven members that serve on the Board.  Of these seven members, six are actual massage therapists who have had at least three years of massage experience and the last member is simply a “public member”.

If needed, the Board will advise the Secretary on any matters or issues involving professional conduct, disciplinary actions and qualifications that are required of you or other candidates for licensing.

If you would like to contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to speak with any of the Board members, please feel free to do so.  The following is the information for you to use for contacting them:

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
Massage Therapy Licensure
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786
Phone: (800) 560-6420
Fax: (217) 782-7645

Requirements To Start A Massage Business in Illinois (Massage Establishment License)

Although you can pursue a very comfortable career as a massage therapist in a variety of locations, opening your own massage business is very rewarding and offers many benefits.  In the state of Illinois, in order for you to open your own massage business, you must follow some simple, yet tedious, guidelines.

Here, the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network is available to you to help guide and direct you as you pursue your own massage therapy business.  The Illinois Entrepreneurship Network was established to provide counseling and training to those who hope to open their own business, among other services.

This Network is a great place for you to find information regarding a sole proprietorship, and also is an excellent aid in providing you with the support you might need to continue on the path to your entrepreneurship endeavor.

There is a help line that you can contact for business information, it is 1-800-252-2923, or you can visit their website at

The state of Illinois has provided a very helpful document for you to refer to as you pursue opening and starting your own massage establishment.  It is a free e-book, and can be found by following this link.

In this e-book you will find many helpful tips and guidelines, including how to create a business plan, forms you will need to fill out and submit, tax information and various laws and acts that will apply to your massage business.

Be sure to follow all of the rules and regulations as closely as possible, as it will create additional success for you and your organization as a whole.

Massage License Renewal Process

After 2-years, the state of Illinois requires that you renew your license the last quarter of an even-numbered year.  You can renew your massage therapy license either online or in person at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The law requires you to complete 24 hours of continuing education over the two-year period starting with your second renewal. The 24 hours must be earned in the current renewal period, and excess hours cannot be used to meet the next renewal period requirement. For approved continuing education requirements you can check this site.

Massage License Reciprocity

If you hold a valid and current massage therapy license from another state, then you can file an endorsement application with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation along with the $175 fee and the following:

  • Certification, on forms provided by the Department, of successful completion of an approved and substantially similar massage therapy program.  If the program does not meet the required number of hours, the Department may require you to complete additional coursework prior to licensure;
  • Certification from the state in which you are currently licensed and practicing, including the license number, the time during which you were licensed in that state and stating whether you have been convicted of a crime or undergone any disciplinary actions;
  • A copy of your examination records and scores forwarded directly from NCBTMB or FSMTB;
  • Either a verification of electronic fingerprint processing from the Illinois Department of State Police; or one of the Illinois State Police approved vendors submitted to one of the Illinois State Police approved vendors, accompanied by the fee specified by the vendor.

If you would like more information on the rules and regulations for massage therapy in the state of Illinois, then you can visit this site.

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.

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Link to video lesson.

Find out how to teach massage in Illinois 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+

10 comments on “Illinois Massage Therapy Schools & Licensing Requirements
  1. Mary says:

    Hi, I’m currently in school to be a massage therapist in Missouri. Our school hours are 750 hours, and I plan to take the National Exam. I will be returning to college in the spring and in a year or two want to move to Chicago to finish up my education as a Chiropractor, but while I finish school I plan to work as a massage therapist. It’s a little hard finding the information online that I need for transferring in the future. Help?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Mary – we have provided basic reciprocity guidelines. Each State varies in its requirements and thus no specifics have been provided. Generally it all boils down to schooling, hours completed, public record, existing license status, etc. The best is to get the reciprocity form from the new State closer to your move as the requirements today may change closer to when you decide to move. The easiest we have seen this is simply filling out an informational form, paying the processing fee and wala you are up and running. Some States are more difficult however.

  2. Valeriya Bozukova says:

    Hello, I’m a license physical therapist from Europe and I have over 500hours of massage therapy lectures and over 600 practical hours of massage therapy during my educations. Is it possible to go for final exam for licensing as a Massage Therapist and with which institution I have to contact with for more information.
    Thank you!

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Valeriya, each institution will have its own conditions/requirements, but all mostly mapped to the Illinois State board requirements. We have always suggested speaking to a few schools and going through their “degree evaluation program” where they map your previous schooling and experience with the current requirements and tell you what else you need to do, if any, to proceed with licensing in the United States. Use the database on our website and request information from multiple schools so that you can start these conversations.

  3. Ms Golden says:

    If I was certified in th 90’s from massage school but never got my license and want to get one
    What would I have to do.

  4. Tanya emmert says:

    How do I even start very interested in getting into this my peps say my hands are magic so I would really like to get into this I live in southern il do to a very recent move

  5. Lindsey says:

    I have held licensure in two other states as well as practices for several years. My coursework was a 500hr program. I recently applied for a license in IL and was told my 50 hr internship clinic hrs were rejected and I needed another 150 hrs to meet the 600hr requirement even though I applied for endorsement.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Lindsey, did you ask the reason for the rejection? was it because the curriculum was materially different from what IL requires? sounds like that is likely the cause. what are next steps for you and what do you plan to do?

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