Iowa Massage Therapy Schools & Certification Requirements

CNBC’s list of “Top States for Business in 2014” has listed Iowa as the twelfth best state in the nation with the highest scores in cost of doing business (5th), economy (3rd) and business friendliness (10th). In addition, the number of registered massage therapists is not that large.  At only 2,396, Iowa has a lot of potential for growth in the massage therapy business.

This makes Iowa a good place to become a massage therapist, as well as own and operate your own business.  Wouldn’t you like to be a part of the growth and exciting opportunities available in the massage industry right here in Iowa?  If so, this article was written just for you.

As you continue reading, you will find out all of the rules, regulations and other necessary information for owning your own massage therapy business in the state of Iowa.

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

Brief Summary Of The Main Highlights

The state of Iowa has several requirements and qualifications that have been set by the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy that allow aspiring massage therapists, just like yourself, to work towards obtaining a massage therapy license.  With the proper schooling, examinations and application requirements fulfilled, you too can become a very successful and up and coming therapist in this particular region.

By properly following the guidelines set by the Board, you will find that obtaining your massage therapy license in the state of Iowa is quite easy; you must be at least 18 years of age and be in good moral standing before you will be considered for certification.

Schooling Details and Requirements (Credit Hours)

To continue pursuing your massage therapy license, you must successfully complete your massage education at an approved school by the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy.  The program must be at least 500 hours of instructor-supervised in-classroom instruction. Within those 500 hours, 100 must consist of anatomy and physiology, basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and 400 hours of other subjects relating directly to massage therapy.

The applicant must also pass either the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) examination or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) after completing the required amount of education.

Licensure Qualifying Programs

Below is a list of some of the approved massage schools in the state of Iowa.  You may choose from any of the following, or seek approval from the Board if you choose to receive your education elsewhere.

Carlson College of Massage Therapy

11809 Country Rd. X-28

Anamosa, IA 52205


Iowa College of Natural Health

1932 SW 3rd St.

Ankeny, IA 50023



Northeast Iowa Community College

Calmar, IA 52132



CARPI College

2945 Williams Parkway SW

Ceder Rapids, IA 52404



Ancient Wisdom Massage School, Spa & Clinic

1114 Woodbury Avenue Suite #3
Council Bluffs, IA 51503



CAPRI College

2450 East 53rd Street

Davenport, IA 52807



Windemere Institute of Healing Arts

2219 Pole Line Rd.

Decorah, IA 52101



College of Massage

3601 Douglas Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50310



Iowa Massage Institute

3017 Indianola Ave. #A

Des Moines, IA 50315



CAPRI College

395 Main Street

Dubuque, IA 52001



Shiatsu Clinic & School

1025 North Summit St.

Iowa City, IA



1590 17th Ave.

Marion, IA 52302



La’ James College

24 2nd Street NE

Mason City, IA 50401



East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts

1395 Jordan Street

North Liberty, IA 52317



Indian Hills Community College

525 Grandview Ave.

Ottumwa, IA 52501


Bio-Chi Institute

1925 Geneva Street

Sioux City, IA 51103



Iowa Lakes Community College

1900 North Grand Ave. #8

Spencer, IA 51301



Body-Wisdom Massage Therapy School

8401 Douglas Ave. #2

Urbandale, IA


Licensing/Certification Requirements

Your application must be submitted to the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy at the below mentioned address.  Applications, fees and supplemented documents must be included before the Board will consider your application for licensing.

Iowa Board of Massage Therapy,

Professional Licensure Division,

Fifth Floor,

Lucas State Office Building,

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075

Application forms may be obtained from the Board’s website or directly from the Board’s office.  In addition to your completed application form, you are required to provide the following as well:

  • Official copies of any and all academic transcripts sent directly from the Board-approved school to the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy. If the school is no longer active, the Board will accept an official transcript provided by you, the student;
  • Proof of passing the NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) or MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination) examination
  • Proof of completion of a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course and a first-aid course certified by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or by the National Safety Council including copies of current certification or renewal cards; and
  • A $120 application fee.

Once you have received your initial massage therapy license, it is valid for two years.  After the two years, you will be required to renew your license to continue practicing as a massage therapist.

Key Agencies / Boards involved and their contact information

The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy is the primary organization responsible for overseeing and maintaining the massage therapy industry in the state of Iowa.

Both a Board Executive and a Secretary in the Bureau of Professional Licensure, Iowa Department of Public Health, staff this particular Board.  Additionally, the Board is made up of four members who are licensed to practice massage therapy and three members who are not licensed to practice massage therapy, but are simply a part of the Board to represent the general public.

The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy evaluates the qualifications of applicants, which would include your personal qualifications as well, for licensure and grants licenses to those who qualify.  The Board also establishes rules and regulations to ensure the integrity and competence of those licensed in Iowa to practice as a massage therapist is doing so in a professional way.  Additionally, the Board sets out to promote public health, welfare and safety.

If you would like to contact the Board for additional information, feel free to utilize the below contact information:

Iowa Board of Massage Therapy,

Professional Licensure Division,

Fifth Floor, Lucas State Office Building,

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075.

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

To own and operate a small business, such as your own massage business, in the state of Iowa, you must register with the county in which you hope to operate.

Additionally, it is very important that you decide whether you want to become a sole proprietor, an LLC, a partnership or a corporation.  By deciding on this important piece of information, you are better able and equipped to file a legal business name, set up necessary tax information and acquire a legal business license.

Another important piece of information is that as the licensed practitioner, you will be required to display your massage therapy license in an area where it can be accessed and seen by those who come to receive service from you.

Massage License Renewal Process

If you were issued your massage therapy license within six months prior to the renewal date, then you will not be required to renew your license until the next renewal month two years later.

However, if you are due for renewal, then you will need to show proof of any and all required continuing education credits that you obtained during the previous two years.  In the state of Iowa, any practicing massage therapist is required to choose and document continuing education.

The Bureau of Professional Licensure, however, does not pre-approve the continuing education providers, sponsors or individual programs, so it is left to you to make sure that the courses you are taking, or other supplemental programs, are appropriate and will apply to your renewal.

Total, you will be required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education.  These hours of continuing education may be obtained by attending and participating in certain activities such as seminars, lectures, and anything that directly contributes to the massage therapy industry.

The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy has provided you with a handbook that explains exactly what is required of you in terms of continuing education.  You can find this information by following this link here.

Additionally, a renewal fee is required upon application – $50. For more information and the application, you can check

Massage License Reciprocity

If you are an out-of-state applicant, then you must provide verification of license(s) from every state in which you have been licensed as a massage therapist.  This should be sent directly from the state(s) to the Board office, as well as the documentation listed above for the in-state applicants.

If the education you received is substantially different from that of what Iowa requires, then the Board will review your credentials, the curriculum you studied and how it differs and decide on a case-by-case basis, whether or not you are approved for reciprocity.  In the meantime, the Board will issue you a temporary license for you to operate and work as a massage therapist temporarily.

However, for this to be granted to you, you must first setup a meeting with the Board regarding your requirements for full licensure within one year of issuing the temporary work permit.   Such plans and meetings will include proof of enrollment in a school of massage therapy whose curriculum has been approved by the Board, the date of enrollment, and the expected date of graduation.

If you are a foreign-trained massage therapist, then you must provide a notarized copy of the certificate or diploma that was awarded to you in the country that you received your education from.  The Board will then review your education and credentials to approve you for working in the state of Iowa.  You may submit this information to one of the following contacts:

International Educational Research Foundations, Inc.,

Credentials Evaluation Service, P.O. Box

3665, Culver City, CA 90231-3665,

Telephone (310) 258-9451,

Website or

E-mail at


International Credentialing Associates, Inc.,

7245 Bryan Dairy Road, Bryan Dairy

Business Park II, Largo, FL 33777,

Telephone (727) 549-8555.

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 Iowa 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+

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