In Arkansas, the requirements for massage therapy practice and education are overseen by the Arkansas Department of Health. In order for you to start a massage therapy school in Arkansas, you must obtain a certificate of massage therapy school licensure from the Department of Health.
Obtaining School Licensure in Arkansas
In order for you to obtain a school license in Arkansas, you must first submit an application to the Department of Health, either as a “School of Massage Therapy” or a “Postsecondary School of Massage Therapy.” A Postsecondary School will only provide instruction to high school graduates, while a School of Massage will provide instruction to secondary school (high school) students. If you want to provide instruction to both secondary and post-secondary students you must obtain both licenses.
Massage Therapy Laws, Rules and Regulations
You must show that your school meets all the requirements in the Massage Therapy Law. The Arkansas Law requires you to:
- Pass an inspection of the facility by the Department of Health. The rules and regulations require schools facilities to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. You must have adequate space around the massage tables, adequate lighting, temperature control and ventilation, educational equipment such as chalk boards, charts and teaching aids should be visible. In addition, the school must be maintained in a “clean and operable condition.”
- Your school is required to have adequate work space for the number of students you will teach. You must have a minimum of one massage table for every three students in a class. You must have a minimum of one hand washing station with hot and cold water, soap and a sanitary hand drying method. The hand washing station must be easily accessible. Alcohol and “illicit drug use” are specifically prohibited from massage school property. You must also have a way to store student records off-site.
- The curriculum for the school must include at least 500 hours of in-class instruction, over a term of 4 months or longer. Those 500 hours must be distributed in the following manner:
- 175 hours of anatomy, physiology, pathology and contraindications to massage therapy
- 225 hour of massage technique
- 25 hours of hydrotherapy, heliotherapy, and electrotherapy
- 25 hours of hygiene and infection control
- 25 hours of massage therapy law, business management, and professional ethics
- 25 hours of related subjects, as approved by the Department of Health.
- Each course must have a syllabus that outlines learning objectives, have daily lesson plans and be taught by a qualified instructor.
- There can be no less than 50 active minutes of teaching per credit hour. Active teaching includes lectures, activities, demonstrations, and supervised hands-on practice.
- You must have both written and practical evaluations for your students, and the grades must be recorded and made accessible to the Department of Health on request.
- You must record attendance and keep records that the Department of Health can review on request.
- You must keep records of first time pass/fail of licensing examinations. Any school with fewer than 75% of the students passing the exam may be subject to probation, suspension or revocation of license.
- You must provide students with information on how to access their school records.
- You must include a minimum of three hours of HIV/AIDS and other communicable disease education in your 25 hours of hygiene and infection control.
- You must require and provide proof of CPR education for all students at the time of their graduation.
- If you teach massage on students who are wearing swimsuits or underwear, you must provide at least 20 hours of hands-on practice with unclothed subjects. The exception would be if your student has a documented religious or medical reason.
- No more than 5% of your hours can be dedicated to energy modalities such as Reiki and Polarity Therapy.
You must also be able to prove that your instructors are qualified to teach their courses. You must have on file documentation as to their training, such as resumes, transcripts, diplomas, and certificates. Instructors who are to teach massage techniques and other hands-on topics must have a license as a master massage therapist or a massage therapy instructor, and must have a minimum of two consecutive years of active experience in the practice of massage therapy.
Instructors who teach academic subjects, such as anatomy and physiology, must have a master massage therapist license, a massage therapy instructor license or a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree plus two years practical experience in a field directly related to what they will be teaching. Instructors for non-technical topics such as ethics and business management must have a master massage therapist license, a massage therapy instructor license or a minimum of an Associate’s degree plus two years practical experience in a field directly related to what they will be teaching.
You may have guest instructors teach up to 25 hours of your curriculum without them being pre-approved by the board. No guest instructor may teach more than 16 hours of the curriculum. You must keep a log of guest instructors and must ascertain that they are qualified to teach the subjects, based on the previous requirements.
In addition to approval from the Department of Health, you may need to obtain additional approvals per local ordinances. You must have ready for inspection by the Department of Health any fire code inspections, occupancy license and/or business licenses and permits as required by local law.
Your Arkansas massage therapy school application requires you to provide the following information to the Department of Health:
- Proposed school information, including address, phone numbers and proposed hours of business.
- Owner information: name, address, phone number, date of birth.
- Information on owner’s massage therapy education, current license, previous licenses, other secondary and post-secondary education, 10 years employment history, and residency.
- Four letters of recommendation.
- Statement of why you are qualified to own a massage school and/or teach in one.
- Description of your school location and facilities, along with a photograph.
- Equipment available and what you propose to use for instruction.
- Complete curriculum, including what textbooks you plan to use.
- A list of employees and/or staff and their qualifications.
- All forms you will use to maintain records for students.
- All tests you will give.
- A copy of your school catalog.
- Information on whether you have a physician on call.
- Your refund policy.
- The date when you will be prepared for inspection.
- A statement of your personal and criminal background.
The application must be notarized and accompanied by the application fee of $850.
Arkansas also requires a criminal background check when you submit a new application.
All information must be received by the Department of Health 30 days before a scheduled meeting, and any additional information requested by the department must be sent within 90 days. The application will be “investigated thoroughly” before a license is granted.
If you want to start a massage school in Arkansas, you must obtain a massage school license from the Arkansas Department of Health. The process to obtain the license includes ensuring that your facility, curriculum, staff, and policies comply with all the laws, rules and regulations of the Department of Health. You must also ensure that your massage school complies with local laws for businesses. After you have submitted an application and the application fee, the Department of Health will review the application and inspect the facility.