FAQs: Massage Certification

There’s much to learn about massage certification requirements if you are to make a fully informed choice. We hope these massage certification FAQs will support you. Please call us with further questions.

You can likely start earning income from your massage practice sooner than you think. In the City of San Francisco, at least for now, your massage certification works like this. You can start after 100 hours and receiving a permit from the city. Massage certification requirements do vary so you may want to call your city to find out. To learn more about meeting local massage certification requirements to practice, be sure to read our other FAQs on this subject. Remember as well to obtain insurance from the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).
Yes. World School of Massage & Holistic Healing Arts is a private institution approved to operate by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Approval to operate means the institution is compliant with the minimum standards contained in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Division 7.5 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.
National Massage Certification: World School is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). What that means practically, is that our Energy and Somatic Therapist and Master Bodyworker Programs meet the NCBTMB’s educational requirements for national massage hours and have been approved by them so that you meet their basic educational requirements and can sit for their certification examination.

Remember, the NCBTMB is not a certifying body appointed by the government. It is a private organization that has been approved only by certain states to act as a massage certification organization for those states.

Certification, licensure, accreditation and business permits…oh my, that’s a lot to try to process. We’ll do our best to get you started here especially as it relates to what you need to get started in your massage career.

Certification or licensure (not accreditation) is what you will need to ensure that you can practice massage lawfully in a given state. Further, if you ever want your credits recognized by another state, it’s state-approval that the other state must confirm as well.

To qualify for massage certification, you will need to attend a massage school approved to operate by a given state and then use those hours to apply to a third-party organization approved to provide “certification.” Schools cannot certify, license or accredit you. Only third-party or state organizations can do that. Schools can neither “certify” anyone, nor can they “accredit” or “license” anyone.

In practical terms for the student, “accreditation” means a school has qualified for federal financial aid, mainly for people who have never been to college. Sadly, many students graduate from these institutions (mainly trade schools and corporate massage schools) with huge student loan burdens that sabotage their ability to get their career off the ground.

One of the reasons for this is because the Federal government requires that to receive federal funding, students must attend a program of at least 920 hours. This is unfortunate because in many states such as California, 250 hours is all that is needed to get started practicing and determine if this is a career with which you are fully aligned.

World School has chosen to remain modestly sized and to avoid Federal accreditation. This allows us to offer you a highly personalized education which prevents large class sizes (healing training needs to be more of a mentoring process than a large group experience), while taking a wide detour around the “for-profit” education mentality and the loan burden that comes with attending an accredited school.

We’ve even created a better way to finance your education; a truly holistic path that can help you graduate debt-free. To learn more, call one of our delightful admissions advisors today.

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 certification education, as in the case of the City of San Francisco, you can meet their massage certification 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, and quite possibly by the start of 2015, the State of California will move to override local government regulations for education. Yet as of today, 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 massage 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.

If you choose to obtain massage certification through the CAMTC, which we recommend, you will need to meet their education requirements and submit an application. Here’s a link to CAMTC’s nifty application checklist.
There are no energy massage certifications that we know of yet. We don’t think it’s necessary that an organization be developed for that purpose either. We think the massage field provides a perfectly acceptable group of massage certification organizations and associations under which energy massage may be overseen. This is why we’ve developed our energy healing, energy massage and somatic (mind-body) massage program, so that students graduate with the hours needed to qualify for a massage certification. This enables you to practice massage with a specialization in energy healing and somatics in any locality in the State.
Yes, our courses are accepted by California’s massage certification body the CAMTC and by other states. For people who love detail…
Yes, our courses have always been approved for CEU certification hours by California’s certification body the CAMTC and by other states.