Tennessee Massage Therapy Schools & Certifications

As part of the “South”, Tennessee is a historic and country rooted state with much to offer you as an aspiring massage therapist. Here, the country music plays and the Great Smoky Mountain heritage live forever. Tennessee is home to many of the rich and famous country stars, such as Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich. Thousands of people flock to Tennessee to experience all that the state has to offer – relaxation, mountains and a few good tunes to tap their feet to.

With over 4,000 registered massage therapists in this one state, the competition is high but you can most certainly beat the odds. Continue reading this article to find out more on the massage industry as it relates to the state of Tennessee.

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

Brief Summary of the Main Highlights

The Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure, regulated by the Department of Health, has set out to create rules and regulations for acquiring your massage therapist license in Tennessee. There are particular schooling, licensure information and other requirements that you must meet and exceed. In this article, you will be given all of the information and tools you need to further pursue your dream of becoming a part of the massage industry in the state of Tennessee.

Schooling Details and Requirements (Credit Hours)

There are several schools and massage therapy programs that the Board has approved for you to attend. In the state of Tennessee, you are required to take at least 500 hours worth of massage therapy in-class and supervised education.

Aside from these required courses, you must also take and pass the NCETMB (National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork) before the state will issue you a license to practice massage. The other accepted examination is the MBLEx (The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination) and is considered a substitution for the NCETMB.

Licensure Qualifying Programs

The following is a short list of some of the many approved schools and massage therapy programs in the state of Tennessee. You may utilize the following information to contact and research these schools prior to attending one. If you would like to find out more information about additional programs, you can visit the Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure Educational Programs webpage by clicking here.

Cumberland Institute
500 Wilson Pike Circle #121
Brentwood, TN 37027
Email: mary@cumberlandinstitute.com
Phone: 615-370-9794

Chattanooga State Technical Community College
East Gate Town Center
5600 East Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37411
Email: Michael.Mathews@chattanoogastate.edu
Phone: 423-468-1140

Miller-Motte Technical Institute
6020 Shallowford Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Email: jkearns@miller-motte.com
Phone: 423-510-9675

Massage Institute of Cleveland
4009 Keith Street
Cleveland, TN 37312
Email: info@massageinstituteofcleveland.com
Phone: 423-559-0380

Appalachian Training Center for Healing Arts
117 West Hwy 25-70
Dandridge, TN 37725
Email: atchaschool@massagetherapy.com
Phone: 865-397-5227

Licensing/Certification Requirements

In order for you to be able to practice massage therapy in Tennessee, you must possess a “lawfully issued license from the Board.” The rules and guidelines for obtaining this license include the following:

  • Request an application packet from the Board’s Administrative Office to complete and mail back.
  • Submit a copy of your Birth Certificate or its equivalent, which indicates that you are at least 18 years of age.
  • If you are not a United States citizen, then you should submit proof of your immigration status demonstrating that you have a right to work in the US.
  • You must request that a transcript from one or more post secondary academic institution(s) approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission or its equivalent in another state(s) be submitted directly from the institution(s) to the Board Administrative Office. This transcript must have the official seal of the institution and must show that you have successfully completed a massage, bodywork, and/or somatic therapy curriculum consisting of no less than 500 classroom hours.
  • You must request that verification of having successfully completed an examination be submitted directly from the examining agency to the Board Administrative Office.
  • You must submit evidence of good moral character. This may consist of two recent letters signed and dated from health care professionals regarding your character and professional ethics.
  • Disclose any criminal offenses, loss or restriction of licensure, any civil suit judgments or failure of any professional licensure examination.
  • A Criminal Background Check must be completed and submitted.
  • Submit the application fee and state regulatory fee.

As a new applicant, you are now required to submit a Criminal Background Check before your massage license may be issued. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should conduct this criminal background check. This particular background check requires a nonrefundable-processing fee of $42.

Key Agencies/Boards involved and their contact information

The Board of Massage Licensure, under the Tennessee Department of Health, is the key agency that oversees and creates rules and guidelines for the massage industry for this particular state. The Massage Licensure Board was created in 1995 by an act of the State Legislature and has the following mission:

“To safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans by requiring those who practice the profession of massage therapy within this state be qualified.”

If you would like to contact the Board, please feel free to consider the following information:

Board of Massage Licensure
665 Mainstream Drive, 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: 615-253-2111
Nationwide: 1-800-778-4123

Requirements to Start a Massage Business in Tennessee (Massage Establishment License)

The state of Tennessee has certain guidelines that it requires you as a massage business owner to abide by. The following can be found in the rules and guidelines, which you can visit by following this link provided.

  • Your massage business must ensure and maintain an adequate waiting area for all clients.
  • You must maintain properly installed smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in compliance with local fire codes.
  • Massage therapy may be conducted only in rooms, which are adequately lighted and ventilated, and so constructed that they can be kept clean.
  • You should make sure that all floors, walls, ceilings and windows are clean at all times, in good repair and free of pests.
  • Your massage business must provide guests with a working restroom.
  • You must ensure that all equipment and supplies used to perform massage services are safe and sanitary.
  • Your massage business must meet all Inspection Requirements as set by the state of Tennessee.

Massage License Renewal Process

A renewal notice will be mailed directly to you from the Board’s administrative office forty-five (45) days prior to the expiration of your massage therapist license. You are responsible for renewing your license on time and keeping the Board aware of your current contact information.

Your license may be renewed online 120 days before it expires. When you are redirected to the renewal website, click on the “License Renewal” link and follow all instructions.

Practicing without a license or with an expired license is against the law and may cause the Board to take legal actions out on you. Avoid this at all cost and renew your license when the time arises.

Massage License Reciprocity

If you are licensed or have been licensed in another state and are seeking reciprocity licensure in the state of Tennessee, then you must request that a transcript from one or more post-secondary academic institution(s) approved by the governing agency in the other state by submitted directly from the institution(s) to the Board Administrative Office. This transcript must show that you successfully completed a massage, bodywork, and/or somatic therapy curriculum consisting of at least 500 hours of in-class supervision and instruction.

Additionally, you must submit proof of having successfully completed 5 classroom hours of instruction regarding Tennessee massage statutes and regulations and 10 classroom hours of ethics instruction.

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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  • Massage Therapy - Associate's
Locations:  Richmond

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

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.

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  • Massage Therapy
Locations:  Norfolk

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:  Virginia Beach
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
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Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning. Today, we offer an impressive array of more than 130 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs across five colleges and the Graduate School.


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  • MS in Psychology - Addictions

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

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