Short Answer:

In the State of California there are two basic steps to obtaining permission to practice massage in a particular city or county:

Step 1) Meet Education Requirements/Certification: Meeting local or state-wide massage education requirements.

Step 2) Obtain Local Permits or Licenses: Meeting city/town/county business permit requirements.

Detailed Answer:

Step 1) Meet Education Requirements and/or Obtain Certification

The State of California has a centralized massage education certification organization named the CAMTC. If you meet their requirement to practice independently (500+ hours), you will then satisfy the education certification requirements for every locality (city/town/county) in the State. In other words, their certification meets all local government requirements for education certification.

Important: This does NOT mean that you need to have 500+ hours to start practicing massage independently, however. If your locality requires only 100 hours of massage education, as in the case of the City of San Francisco, you can meet their education requirements to practice with only that.

You may want to check your local education requirements if you want to start practicing massage while you are in school. We encourage students to start practicing massage with the public at the earliest possible opportunity. We also suggest that if you want to practice massage as a career, that you have at least 500 hours of training. Call one of our heart-centered admissions advisors to learn more. As of the writing of this, there is no requirement by the State of California to have 500 hours.

We expect that eventually, the State of California will move to override local government regulations for education but such a choice or time has not been made by the State according to the CAMTC.

Step 2) Obtain Your Business Permit or License:

Local governments want to have massage therapists registered if they are working in their town or city. Additionally, if you are seeking employment at a spa or chiropractors office, they will need you to have obtained a permit for that town/city in which the spa or office is located.

All you will need to do is call your local city/town government and ask to speak with someone in the department that regulates massage. Ask them about their education requirements and their permitting process. Most commonly, you will obtain a low-cost permit or license through the Department of Health (as in the City of San Francisco) or through the Police Department.