In the massage industry there is an organization that sells “Board Certification”, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or NCBTMB. They market their certification “to continue our mission to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork profession, we are going beyond basic certification to allow you to demonstrate a much higher level of achievement”. As a wise consumer, you should be seeking this. Choose excellence by choosing certified. Which I find to be a crock…
For states that don’t license or regulate massage therapy, the NCBTMB standards may be important and being certified may actually mean something. I have only ever lived in states that do certify massage therapists.
Here is a breakdown of some of the standards and why they don’t really mean much to me.
The NCBTMB requires 750 hours of education, including core education and continuing education. Florida requires a minimum of 500 hours of core education, and 24 hours every two years. Many schools have beyond the 500 hours of required. My massage school was over 800 hours.
The NCBTMB requires that you pass their test to become certified. Many states for years used the NCBTMB exam as the standard exam to become licensed at the state level. Recently, another exam was adopted that could be used in addition to the National Exam. For several years, if you lived in a state that required an exam, EVERY licensed therapist used the National Exam. In Florida there are now 2 choices in exams, and no proof as to which exam is “better”.
The NCBTMB has a requirement of 250 hours of hands on experience. While state licensing does not have this requirement, because they can’t, 250 hours of experience is not much. It’s nothing really. Let’s say that a therapist is working 15 massage hours a week on average. That therapist would need to work just 16.67 weeks to meet this requirement, roughly 3 months. If 250 hours is supposed to represent experience, that’s just lame.
To the consumer the NCBTMB advertises “Board Certified Therapists Meet Rigorous Qualifications”. I find that statement very misleading. Not only are the qualifications lacking in my opinion, the board also certifies modalities that have little scientific validity in the context of massage therapy.
The NCBTMB of course charges a fee to be certified. I would personally prefer to spend my money on additional education that improve my skills and add value to my experience than on a “Certification” that adds nothing to my value.
I’m certainly not saying choose any therapist without question. Ask the therapist about their education, both the core program and additional training.
Some therapists place a lot of value in adding those initials behind their name. As if they demonstrate some higher level of achievement. Some are so proud that they actually lie about having it. If certification by this association is important to you, then I suggest that you search their database to ensure that the therapist you are seeking is in fact certified. You can find it here.