Massage Therapy Training Programs: License(s) And Niches

Massage can be the perfect profession for today's modern economy. Not only does it tap into the need for alternative health care providers, but it gives you the flexibility to pursue as a second career.

Here are some things to consider, however, before starting your massage therapy training program.


Earning a massage therapy certificate can only be as valuable as the certificate(s) you earn with it.

  1. NCETMB: the National Certification for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the most commonly expected and respected massage therapy license issued in the United States. Although some states do not require an NCETMB to operate, many health care providers and/or insurance companies require the license to facilitate payments. Before you invest your time and money in a massage therapy training program, it's critical that you verify that the training is compliant with the NCETMB requirements and/or the institution produces graduates who successfully pass the NCETMB test.
  2. State License: most states require massage therapists to earn a massage therapy certificate and pass a state license exam. This can be particularly important if you earn your massage therapy degree online or in a state where you might not live permanently.
  3. Additional Licenses: many massage therapists expand their marketability and help better target specific demographics by earning additional licenses. For instance, you might seek a license to practice acupuncture, cupping, dry needling, active release therapy (ART) and/or a host of other therapy techniques. However, taking a few courses in these additional therapy methodologies will be less beneficial for you professionally if you aren't licensed to actually put them into use with patients. Make sure that the massage therapy training program you enter not only offers the training you need but also gives you the chance to earn the license you'll need to practice.

Find Your Niche

Not all massage therapy jobs are likely suited to you. When you start a massage therapy training program, look for a working professional who can help you find your niche within the profession. For instance, if you have a passion for working with elite athletes, you might want to focus on deep tissue massage or dry needling. However, if your passion is working with rehabilitating patients recovering from accidents and/or major life events, you might want to focus more on mobility and myofascial release techniques. Particular massage therapy schools tend to build relationships with providers within the industry, look for a massage therapy training program with connections that align with your massage therapy goals.