What to Look for When Considering a Non Accredited Massage Therapy School

Many aspiring massage therapy school students often eliminate non accredited schools from their search when considering a massage school to attend primarily because of the numerous myths on the web about these schools.

Such as “you cannot get certified”, “you cannot pass the MBLEX test”, “you cannot get your license” and the list goes on.

This is far from the truth.

While some of these myths are indeed realities in some cases, in many cases they are simply incorrect pieces of information regurgitated enough over time so as to appear predominantly everywhere we search for information online.

In fact, some of the non-accredited schools that we know tend to be the best.

Both in terms of the quality of education, preparedness as well as the cost to attend.

Many non accredited schools are small, local businesses that are more economically priced because they do not qualify for federal financial aid.

You can read more about this argument, as well as its counterargument in this article.

But in this article, we want to highlight some of the specific aspects you want to look for when considering a non accredited massage therapy school.

These are the questions you should be asking for when evaluating potential schools to attend.

How to Evaluate Non-Accredited Massage Therapy Schools

It’s important to discuss the main goals and objectives of an aspiring student when evaluating schools.

Here are some of the main considerations:

  • Quality: Will I get a good education?
  • Are the teachers qualified and good at what they do?
  • Certification & Licensure: Will I be able to pass the tests and become a licensed massage therapist?
  • Tuition and fees: Can I afford the school?
  • Flexibility: Can I make the school curriculum/schedule fit in my life?
  • Business considerations: Will the school teach me how to get into business for myself and market my practice (in some cases)?

In summary, you want to attend a school which will equip you with a quality education.

Allow you to become a licensed massage therapist all while making it affordable and flexible to attend.

So keeping these most important considerations in mind.

Accredited Massage School

The following are some of the things you want to be looking for when evaluating non accredited massage schools:

  • Is the non accredited massage school licensed by the State Board for private post-secondary education?
  • Is it certified by the National Certification Board?
  • And is it a member of the AMTA & ABMP?
  • Upon graduation, will you prepare and qualified to take either the National Certification Exam or the MBLEX.
  • And to be licensed in the State and most other states?
  • How large is the student participation? Are students all local or are there students from other cities and even States?
  • Where are previous graduates working?
  • Are they only working locally or all over the country?
  • Considering non accredited schools don’t qualify for Federal Financial Aid, what other aid programs are offered to assist with tuition payment?

Many of the answers to these questions can find on the school’s website.

But if the answers are not obvious, make sure you ASK and are comfortable with the responses before you pursue further.

The Advantage of Staying Non-Accredited from the School’s Perspective

What we have come to realize in speaking to many non accredited schools is that often times the owners of these schools possess a very strong passion for the massage profession and tend to favour quality of education over the financial upside involved in franchising, consolidations or acquisitions.

Are we saying all non accredited schools are better than accredited ones? Not at all.

Many simply don’t have the means to grow and get to the next level (accredited status) in spite of possessing the desire to do so.

Many non accredited schools that content with their current programs, size and “way of doing things” simply feel “why plug into a system we don’t need”.

It costs a good amount of money getting to that next level and the process involves a mountain of paperwork.

Many also despise the fact that the Government’s finger is in it.

In essence, these schools feel that more and bigger is not always better.

And many of them have proven this statistically through their students’ exam pass rates.

Job placement rates and just overall success and satisfaction rates.

The crux of the matter is that you DO NOT need to go to an accredited massage therapy school if you want to become a successfully licensed massage therapist.

Many non accredited schools can also deliver the same results and often at a less cost.

The choice of school you make should not base on whether it accredited or non-accredited.

But on your specific situation and whether the school you choose fits your and only your situation best.

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+

12 comments on “What to Look for When Considering a Non Accredited Massage Therapy School
  1. Barb says:

    I’m looking at a wonderful but non accredited school in North Ga.
    So what about the states that require accreditedation to become licensed. Is it possible all states such as Fla may require you go to an accredited school in the future ? Would you still be able to get licensed?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Barb, good question. the future will be interesting as we are seeing a fair amount of consolidation. large, accredited institutions are taking over smaller ones. we have seen many instances where students of non accredited schools go on to become licensed. all accreditation is is the quality review of a school’s curriculum/curricula. an independent acreditor / agency evaluates the school and if the school passes then it is granted to accreditation status which also helps for financial aid.

  2. MC says:

    I recently graduated from a non accredited school of massage therapy in Chicago Illinois I passed the MBLEx and I applied for license in Illinois I received a letter from Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs my application was denied because the school where I attended was not accredited
    What can I do?
    Is any way to obtain a license somewhere else in other state?
    I am desperate and I don’t know what to do.
    Thank you in advance for any response

    • Neal Lyons says:

      the route you will have to take is a long one. you will have to contact each state board individually in nearby states and determine whether they can help you with a license. once you have the license, you will have to work on reciprocity (transferring it to Illinois). this could be a good “back door” way to get in. before doing that, plea to the state board of Illinois since you have already passed the exam. it is unfortunate that some state boards are requiring you to complete your education at an accredited institution.

  3. Diane D says:

    How can we can find out what state boards require education from an accredited institution?

  4. Crystal says:

    Wisconsin also does not issue licenses to therapists who graduate from an unaccredited school – I went through that trial last year. I looked into appealing, but the lawyer I consulted told me that their department is a stickler for the letter of the law and it would likely be a huge waste of time and money on my part. I’m disheartened to hear that Illinois has a similar requirement.

    Some of my credits will transfer to a local school, but it is a huge shame about the accreditation requirements since I passed the MBlex with no issues and have already been working elsewhere. Most of the time I’m a supporter of massage licensing, but in cases like this it’s stifling qualified therapists from out of state.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Crystal, what you mention is exactly the struggle many are experience between accredited and non accredited institutions. more states are moving to accreditation. what is your current situation and plans going forward?

      • Crystal says:

        Hey Neal! I’m currently looking into two avenues: retaking a few classes and graduating again from a local school, or getting my license in another state and transferring it. Wisconsin has a internal list of “pre-approved” states whose laws are considered substantially equivalent (I wish this list was posted online, but they were quite nice about explaining it to me), among them Michigan and Illinois. Since my school has alumni in Michigan, I feel confident of my chances there.

        I find myself in this situation due to unforeseen family issues – I was originally planning on moving to a different state, but had to change my plans last-minute. I’m happy that I get to spend more time with my family, but it’s been really rough going through this long drawn-out licensing process and not being able to work.

        While I understand and support the reasoning behind accreditation, I wish that it was a simpler and more inexpensive process for schools to go through.

      • Crystal says:

        Just an update – I was able to get my Wisconsin license through reciprocity. It took longer than usual due to the fact that I had had a previous denial. I hope this information helps anyone facing this same issue on a later date!

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