How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina, the requirements for massage therapy practice and education are overseen by the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy.

If you want to open a private massage therapy school in North Carolina, you will need to have a 500-hour program that is approved by the Board and also, meets the criteria established by the board.

If you want to open a new private massage therapy school in North Carolina, you will have to apply for approval from the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy.

Your first step will be to mail in a New School Application Request Form to the board with a $20 fee.

They will then send you the most updated copy of their application packet.

The packet should be mailed to you within 10 days of receipt of your request.

So your school must designate one person as the Program Director.

The Program Director is directly responsible for all facets of the program’s operation.

Requirements of the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy

A Program Director must meet the following qualifications:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university OR have five years of experience as a licensed massage therapist;
  • Have at least two years experience as the lead instructor in one of the courses your program teaches; and
  • Have at least two years experience in education administration.


  • Have qualifications equivalent to the above.

If your Program Director does not have experience as a massage and bodywork therapist or a massage school instructor, then you need to have an Education Director.

The Education Director must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a graduate of an accredited college or university and have five years experience as a massage therapist;


  • Have at least two years experience as the lead instructor in one of the courses your program teaches;


  • Have at least two years experience in massage therapy education administration or teacher training.

You must have sufficient staff for the number of students you enrol.

MIST – How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

Your instructors must be trained in teaching and have the following qualifications:

  • Teacher training that includes
    • Presentation skills;
    • Development and implementation of lesson plans;
    • Dynamics of student/teacher relationships;
    • Classroom management;
    • Evaluation of student performance;
    • Instructional strategies for the adult learner;
    • Accommodations for students with special needs;
    • Knowledge of the school’s policies and procedures.
  • Training in the subject(s) they are teaching and
    • At least two years of professional experience in the subject area;
    • Certification to teach a trademarked modality if such certification exists.
  • Instructors must
    • Be a licensed massage therapist in North Carolina for at least two years; OR
    • Have a bachelor’s degree with at least 12 semester hours in the subject area they are teachings; OR
    • Be a licensed physician, dentist, chiropractor, registered nurse, osteopath, physical therapist, occupational therapist or acupuncturist; OR
    • Be a licensed massage therapist in another state for at least two years; OR
    • In states where no massage therapy licensure exists, be certified in massage and bodywork therapy for at least two years by an agency whose certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
  • Teaching assistants must
    • Be licensed massage therapists with training in the subject to help teach massage theory and practice;
    • In subjects other than massage theory and practice, teaching assistants must have training in the subject area AND
      • Be a licensed massage therapist; OR
      • Have at least one year of professional experience in the area; OR
      • Have at least six credit hours in the area from an accredited college or university.

You will have to submit instructor credentials to the board for approval within 30 days of their hire date.

Annual Performace Review

To manage your staff, you must have:

  • Written job descriptions with performance standards for each instructor position;
  • An employment agreement or contract with each instructor;
  • A file for each instructor with their original application for Board approval, current employment agreement or contract, and also, annual performance reviews.
  • You will also have to keep the file updated with current licenses, updated continuing education, and certifications.

Your school will need to meet the following standards for facilities and also, equipment:

  • Your school premises must be safe and sanitary.
  • So Your school must be in compliance with current health, fire, safety and sanitation codes, rules and regulations.
  • Your equipment, supplies and instructional materials must be adequate in terms of type, quality and also, quantity for each class taught.
  • They must also meet all health and safety codes.
  • You will have to request annual inspections from your local authorities to ensure that your facility remains in compliance with health and safety codes.
  • For hands-on massage classes, you must have 70 square feet of space per massage table.
  • You need to have one table per two students, and your tables must be adjustable in height.

With regard to financial management, your school will need to

  • Maintain a financial management system that is reliable and ensures effective use of your financial resources.
  • It needs to be accurate and secure.
  • Have an annual review or audit. This must demonstrate that your school’s assets exceed its liabilities.
  • If you cannot show that, you will either have to provide a teach-out plan and also, close the school, or you will have to provide a financial improvement plan to the board.
  • You may also be required to provide a surety bond.
  • The board may run a credit check on your school.
  • Your school must have professional liability insurance.

Recruitment Policies

You will need to comply with the following student recruitment policies:

  • Not mislead students into thinking they are applying for a job by advertising through a placement agency or placing advertising in the “help wanted” section;
  • Ensure that anyone doing recruitment does not provide any misleading information regarding any aspect of the school;
  • Not make explicit promises of job placement or salary to any incoming student;
  • Not offer cash or non-monetary incentives to encourage a student to enrol;
  • Inform each student accurately about financial assistance opportunities and their repayment requirements for loans;
  • Not use the word “free” regarding equipment, tuition, books, or any other item in conjunction with recruiting or advertising;
  • Not allow recruiting staff to discredit other institutions by
    • falsely imputing that they are dishonest or have questionable finances or other negative characteristics;
    • making other false representations;
    • disparaging the character, nature, quality, value or scope of their program, instruction or services;
    • demeaning their students.
  • Not knowingly encourage a student to leave another school or change plans after registering with another school.

Admissions Policies – How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

Your school will need to comply with the following admissions policies:

  • Admissions policies are disclosed to the public and administered;
  • Conduct orientation sessions for prospective students that include an overview of your program’s objectives and also,  curriculum, the academic and physical requirements of the program, existing employment opportunities in the field, time and financial requirements of the program and state requirements for licensure;
  • Only admit students that have cognitive, motor, and behavioural skills and also,  moral character to complete the program and practice massage in a safe and effective manner;
  • Conduct a pre-enrollment interview with each prospective candidate and consider the information gathered in the interview along with written documentation in order to determine whether to accept them into the program;
  • Only accept students who are high school graduates or have a GED;
  • Maintain written documentation on the basis for admission of a student;
  • Maintain documentation of reasons for admission denial for three years;
  • May enrol students in individual courses not leading to a credential.

Refunds and Financial Aid

With regard to Tuition, Refunds and Financial Aid, your school will require

  • Disclose tuition, refund policy and also, all related program costs to prospective students;
  • Publish tuition policies in the school catalogue or bulletin, and address adjustment in the case of
    • Cancellation of enrollment within 72 hours of signing;
    • Withdrawal before the program start date;
    • Withdrawal after the program start date;
    • Student dismissal;
    • Cancellation of the program by the school.
  • Students in the same program will charge the same tuition. However, you can charge different rates for in-state and also, out of state students, as well as offer a reduction in cost for advanced payment of tuition.
  • Your refund policy must be clear and in writing and provided to each student prior to payment of tuition.
  • If your school participates in any financial aid programs, you must discuss them in your catalogue.
  • You may not use the term “financial aid” unless your school administers Title IV funds.

Course Curriculum – How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

Your program must meet the following requirements:

  • You must develop and adhere to a statement of objectives that the students must meet to complete the program;
  • Your school must have a core curriculum of 500 hours of supervised in-class instruction to include:
    • 200 hours of massage theory and practice, at least 100 of which must be hands-on practice;
    • 100 hours in anatomy, physiology and pathology;
    • 15 hours of ethics, laws and rules;
    • 15 hours of business management;
    • 20 hours of psychological aspects of massage therapy;
    • 150 hours of additional instruction in massage-related topics.
    • CPR and First Aid may not be included in these hours.
  • Student clinicians cannot exceed 100 hours;
  • Externships must be in addition to the core 500 hours and cannot be more than 20% of the total hours;
  • So your program hours must be sufficient for your graduates to qualify to take one of the competency assurance examinations approved by the board;
  • Classes must be taught in a logical sequential order;
  • Course titles must match the course material;
  • Course curriculum must be provided;
  • Instruction must be consistent between instructors;
  • Programs must be at least 24 weeks in length, and there can be no more than nine instructional hours per day;
  • To receive credit, students must attend 75% of the class time, and also, must make up hours to total at least 98% of the total instructional time;
  • A syllabus must be provided to each student that meets the rules of the board;
  • For hands-on courses, the student to instructor ratio cannot exceed 16 to 1.
  • Instructors and teaching assistants are both counted in this calculation.

Student Records

Your school must comply with the following policies for student records

  • Keep current and accurate records for each student.
  • This will include attendance, academic progress, grades, date entered, dates attended, courses studied, program completion and date of graduation.
  • Records will be stored in perpetuity.
  • They should be stored to ensure their confidentiality as well as to be safe from fire, theft or other possible loss.
  • Students and graduates are allowed access to their records.
  • All school policies shall enforce, and students will inform when they are not meeting the standards for completion of the program.

Your school must meet the following standards for graduates

  • All graduates will give a certificate or diploma.
  • Certificates or diplomas will only give to students who complete all aspects of the program.
  • Agencies that do testing will allow to directly report the pass rate of your graduates to the board.

Your school must have adequate learning resources available to your students, such as a library and also, educational media.

Your school staff must comply with the ethical requirements of  North Carolina and how to begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

  • They must comply with the Standard of Conduct published in the North Carolina massage therapy rules;
  • Nudity (exposure of genitals of men/women and breasts of women) is not allowed in the schools, with the exception of treatment to the breast area while utilizing therapeutic techniques;
  • The school may either have a dressing/undressing area or may instruct persons receiving a message in undressing under a sheet on the table.
  • Staff may not engage in a sexual relationship with a student unless that relationship existed prior to the student’s enrollment.
  • If so, that must document in the student’s admission file.
  • How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina.

School Policies And Procedures

Other factors that must be present in your school’s policies and procedures:

  • Your school must have an internal complaint policy and a file that documents all complaints filed, the person filing the complaint, the response to the complaint by the school, and the resolution of the complaint.
  • Students may not receive fees, tips, or other compensation for massages done while they are students.
  • Credit transfer and advanced placement may only be done under certain circumstances listed in the message rules.
  • They cannot be used to reduce the number of in-class hours to less than 500.
  • Advertising must be done in compliance with ethical requirements in the message rules.
  • Student enrollment agreements must meet the requirements in the message rules.
  • Your school catalogue must meet the requirements of the message rules.

Application Fee – How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

Your application must include the following attachments:

  • Application fee;
  • Personnel qualification forms;
  • Job descriptions for staff members;
  • Examples of staff contracts;
  • Ownership structure of the school and organizational chart;
  • Facility floor plan, including lighting, ventilation and temperature control;
  • Equipment list;
  • Copy of deed if facility is owned or lease if it is leased;
  • Copy of local inspections for facility safety and sanitation;
  • Statement of Financial Affirmation and required financial documentation, including a projected budget for the first year and financial reports to show that there are sufficient resources available to develop the school;
  • Copies of admission application and other admission materials;
  • Copies of forms used to document attendance, grades and disciplinary actions;
  • Copy of diploma and transcript;
  • Documentation of program requirements;
  • List of student to instructor ratios for each class offered;
  • List of learning resources provided by the school;
  • Copies of advertising and promotional material;
  • Copy of the student enrollment agreement;
  • Catalog Certification Form and copy of the school catalogue;
  • Agenda for student orientation program and a copy of the personnel orientation program provided by the school;

Your application will review and your facility inspected before your approval is granted.

The cost of an initial application for approval of a single program at a single location is $2,000.

The inspection fee for the initial approval or renewal is $1,500, plus actual expenses for travel, food and lodging.

Additional fees apply if you have more than one location of more than one program.

Renewal fees for a single program at a single location are $1,000 per renewal.

Your renewal must be done annually for the first five years.

So if there are no problems, the board may then allow you to renew every two years.

Summary – How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

If you want to open a new private massage therapy school and also, how to begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina.

you must have a program of at least 500 hours that meet the requirements of the  North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork.

How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina.

You must first send in a request for an application packet with a $20 fee.

Your application fee is $2,000 when you send in the application.

You will also have to pay $1,500 plus expenses for an inspection.

If granted, your license will be good for one year for the first five years of operation.

The renewal cost is $1,000.

You may also have to pay for an inspection when you renew.


North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy – Rules

North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy

How to Begin a Massage Therapy School in North Carolina

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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