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Massage Today
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01

Illinois Joins Ranks of the Regulated

HB 2271 Takes Effect January 1, 2003

By Editorial Staff

As of December 4, 2002, HB 2271 is the law of the land in Illinois, officially regulating the practice of massage and bodywork. Illinois becomes the 31st state to adopt regulatory requirements for the massage profession.

The bill's passage culminates nearly two years of work that began when the bill was introduced to the Illinois House of Representatives on February 22, 2001.

The text of the bill, which reflects several significant amendments, mandates regulation of the state's massage therapy profession as follows:

Registration Requirements

Beginning January 1, 2004, persons engaged in massage for compensation must be licensed by the Department. The Department shall issue a license to an individual who meets all of the following requirements:

(1) The applicant has applied in writing on the prescribed forms and has paid the required fees.

(2) The applicant is at least 18 years of age and of good moral character. In determining good moral character, the Department may take into consideration conviction of any crime under the laws of the United States or any state or territory thereof that is a felony or a misdemeanor or any crime that is directly related to the practice of the profession. Such a conviction shall not operate automatically as a complete bar to a license, except in the case of any conviction for prostitution, rape, or sexual misconduct, or where the applicant is a registered sex offender.

(3) The applicant has met one of the following requirements:

(A) has successfully completed the curriculum or curriculums of one or more massage therapy schools approved by the Department that require a minimum of 500 hours and has passed a competency examination approved by the Department;

(B) holds a current license from another jurisdiction having licensure requirements that meet or exceed those defined within this Act; or

(C) has moved to Illinois from a jurisdiction with no licensure requirement and has provided documentation that he or she has successfully passed the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork's examination or another massage therapist certifying examination approved by the Department and maintains current certification.

As noted in the text, the bill stipulates the use of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork's (NCBTMB) National Certification Exam (NCE) as the entry-level examination credential for Illinois massage practitioners. While Illinois is the 26th state to adopt the NCE as a regulatory standard, it is the first to require that practitioners keep their certification current.

Grandfathering Provision

(a) For a period of one year after the effective date of the rules adopted under this Act, the Department may issue a license to an individual who, in addition to meeting the requirements set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of Section 15 [licensure requirements above], produces proof that he or she has met at least one of the following requirements before the effective date of this Act:

(1) has been an active member, for a period of at least one year prior to the application for licensure, of a national professional massage therapy organization established prior to the year 2000, which offers professional liability insurance and a code of ethics;

(2) has passed the National Certification Exam of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and has kept his or her certification current;

(3) has practiced massage therapy an average of at least 10 hours per week for at least 10 years; or

(4) has practiced massage therapy an average of at least 10 hours per week for at least one year prior to the effective date of this Act and has completed at least 100 hours of formal training in massage therapy.

(b) An applicant who can show proof of having engaged in the practice of massage therapy for at least 10 hours per week for a minimum of one year prior to the effective date of this Act and has less than 100 hours of formal training or has been practicing for less than one year with 100 hours of formal training must complete at least 100 additional hours of formal training consisting of at least 25 hours in anatomy and physiology by January 1, 2004.

(c) An applicant who has training from another state or country may qualify for a license under subsection (a) by showing proof of meeting the requirements of that state or country and demonstrating that those requirements are substantially the same as the requirements in this Section.

The bill includes a Governor's Amendatory Veto that delays until January 1, 2004, the section of the bill that deletes a municipality's authority to regulate massage. In effect, this allows individual jurisdictions (specifically, the city of Chicago) to continue to regulate massage until all elements of the regulatory infrastructure are in place, including a state board of massage. HB 2271 takes effect on January 1, 2003.

HB 2271 is one of several massage bills passed by state legislatures in recent months. As reported in the November 2002 issue of Massage Today,1 California legislators recently approved two pieces of massage legislation: SB 577, a freedom-of-practice bill that protects unlicensed practitioners from violations of the Medical Practice Act; and AB 15, which requires business licenses for practitioners working as independent contractors. Many other states have introduced massage bills to their respective state legislatures, or are in the process of doing so.

Mississippi was the last state before Illinois to adopt massage regulations, passing SB 2360 in April 2001.2 With Illinois now joining that group, only 19 states remain without legislation regulating the practice of massage therapy. As the number of unregulated states dwindles, one can be certain the debate over the merits of professional licensure will only intensify.

You can track the progress of legislative efforts in those states, and the reaction of the massage and bodywork community, in upcoming issues of Massage Today.


  1. Massage legislation makes waves in California. Massage Today, November 2002:2(11).
  2. Licensure comes to Mississippi. Massage Today, May 2001:1(5).


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