The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork – NCBTMB

If you aspire to become a massage therapist, you need to know about the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). The NCBTMB is the regulatory authority for massage therapy professionals in the USA, and responsible for ensuring that massage therapists follow best practices and uphold the codes of ethics, quality and legality.

The NCBTMB is also responsible for ensuring a high standard of quality as far as massage therapy education is concerned. There is no doubt about the reputation and importance of the NCBTMB as an organization for the entire massage therapy industry.

Its significance can be gauged by the fact that you cannot practice massage therapy as a profession in many states unless you are certified by the board. This is why it is important that you familiarize yourself with this governing body and how it works.

The NCBTMB – A Brief History

It was in 1992 that the NCBTMB was established. This means it has been governing the massage therapy industry for over two decades now. It is a not-for-profit organization, but is not owned or operated by any government body.

It is a private body with the mission of ensuring that uniform standards of massage therapy are followed across the country. They ensure that the quality of service and education remains at the level it should be.

No less than 33 states in the US recognize the NCBTMB as the leading authority in massage therapy today. This will likely grow as more states join. If you reside in any of these states, you have to be licensed and certified by the NCBTMB before you can enter the industry as a professional.

As of now, close to 100,000 professionals have received certification from the NCBTMB, and that number keeps growing every year. Every professional certified by the NCBTMB has to uphold the highest standards of quality and safety. This ensures that massage clients receive the level of service they except, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced the massage therapist may be.

Before the NCBTMB started operating, the responsibility for regulating the quality of massage therapy in the US was with the Commission on Massage Training Accreditation (COMTA). However, COMTA was more focused on the standard of education than governing professionals.

Through their nationwide certification program, the NCBTMB has allowed massage therapists to attract a wider client-base. People now know that massage therapists who are certified by the board are required to provide topnotch services. Hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the NCBTMB has played a vital role in making massage therapy a more accessible and popular professional career choice.

How to Get Certified in Massage

There are numerous criteria set forth in the rules and regulations as far as getting certified is concerned. If you are a student looking to enter the professional world as a massage therapist, you need to meet each and every requirement.

Else you wouldn’t be eligible for certification, and without proper certification, you wouldn’t be allowed to work as a massage therapist. So, what are the requirements that you have to meet? Here are a few examples:

  • Passing the standardized exam conducted by the NCBTMB by obtaining a passing score
  • Displaying the skills necessary to work as a professional massage therapist
  • Proving that you have received at least 500 hours of instruction on massage therapy
  • Committing that you will uphold the Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics which covers
    • Confidentially
    • Roles & Boundaries
    • Professionalism
    • Good Business Practices
    • Avoiding Misconduct (Sexual and otherwise)

Once you have received your certification from the NCBTMB after meeting their stringent requirements, you will have to get it renewed after every four years. The criteria for renewal are simple. You have to have spent at least 200 hours working as a massage therapist, and met the continuing education requirements set by your state.

Passing the Massage Therapy Exam

As mentioned in the requirements, you have to achieve a passing score on the exam conducted by the NCBTMB to be a certified therapist. There are actually two options when it comes to testing.

You can either appear for the National Certificate Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB) or the National Certificate Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM). The tests are more or less similar, but the NCETMB is more comprehensive. Which exam you should appear for depends to a large extent on the state you are practicing in.

The massage exams cover a wide range of massage related topics, which is why students have to brush up on their knowledge of the different types of massages and how massage therapy can be used to improve the clients’ health and well being. Moreover, questions about the latest techniques and technology being used in massage therapy are included as well. This is why both exams are a good measure of a student’s competence and knowledge.

Regulation & Accreditation

There is no doubt that the NCBTMB sets the standards as far as massage therapy and bodywork are concerned. However, despite this, the body does not work under any governmental agency, nor is it affiliated with any state body.

The NCBTMB receives its accreditation from the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). NOCA is an organization in the healthcare sector that does the same job which NCBTMB does for the massage therapy industry. Hundreds of NOCA-accredited healthcare programs are currently ongoing across the country.

The NCBTMB’s internal governance and regulation is managed by its Board of Directors. The Board comprises of nine members, all of whom are respected and experienced massage therapy professionals. They ensure that each certified massage therapist is held accountable, and made to follow the professional ethics laid down in the code of conduct.

The Importance of the NCBTMB

There are 33 states where massage therapy professionals cannot practice their craft without certification from the NCBTMB today (will increase over time as more states conform). Moreover, there are certain benefits the board provides to its members.

For instance, there are many people who search for massage therapists through the board and you can get referrals this way, but only if you are certified. You can even broaden your horizons and work on a cruise ship or in a health club or spa when you are certified with the various opportunities and programs offered through the board.

The bottom-line is that the NCBTMB is crucial for upholding the reputation and general perception of massage therapy as a genuine means of improving health and wellbeing. People feel better about receiving massage therapy from qualified and certified professionals. As a professional, you can also rest assured that your credentials are validated and advocated by a credible and reputable governing body that has been around for decades.

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 Exam

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