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Industry News for NCBTMB

1901 S. Meyers Rd., Suite 240
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181

NCBTMB Announces Board Certification Credential

A Slate of New Programs Aimed at Elevating the Profession Set to Roll Out Over the Next 12 Months

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois (March 14, 2012) – The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) announced today a 12-month plan that will improve the quality and usefulness of all of its products and communications including a new certification credential, new technology, and improved tools and support. The nonprofit organization is completely revamping all areas of operation to ensure that the support is in place to elevate standards for the profession.

"Every point where NCB and the profession intersect will be significantly upgraded—from improved credentials and school outreach to improved review of instructors and technology," said Mike Williams, NCBTMB CEO. "All of these changes are designed to enhance the ability of therapists interested in excelling in their profession to reach their potential."

The massage industry is at an interesting crossroads. There are therapists practicing under stringent standards similar to other health care providers, and then there is illegal and fraudulent activity undermining all of our efforts. Williams believes the best way to establish greater credibility for therapists is by raising standards. Over the course of the next 12 months, NCBTMB will launch the following:

  • Board Certification Credential
  • Online Career Management System
  • Continuing Education program
  • Online Education Resource

Beginning with the first quarter of 2013, NCBTMB will introduce a Board Certification credential, phasing out the current National Certification credential. The new credential—by including additional education, hands-on experience and a background check— will ensure that therapists achieving this credential will have the proper foundation to better serve their clients. Additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession. {See below for the full program description.}

NCBTMB will no longer pursue the development of the National Credential for Advanced Practitioners. After extensive feedback from the profession, and a further look at the difficulty in testing the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities for such a level of practice, the exam was deemed inappropriate for the current needs of the profession. Rather, it was discovered that higher standards for certification were desired, and the new Board Certification credential, soon followed by the development of specialty exams, will provide a pathway for career success.

To ensure NCBTMB's infrastructure can support these new programs, the organization will be replacing its current technology with an online career management system to automate the certification process, provide a secure self-service portal and enhance communications. This system will significantly reduce processing time, producing nearly instant results. Implementation begins this spring, and the public rollout will be mid-summer.

An important aspect of the massage profession is quality continuing education to help therapists keep their skills sharp and learn new techniques to further develop their careers. NCBTMB began the work of refining its Approved Provider program with feedback learned from the Massage Approved Provider Panel (MAPP). The program—to be launched this summer—will ensure the highest quality of continuing education and will allow instructors of distinction the opportunity to differentiate themselves.

NCBTMB is discontinuing offering the current online practice exam effective immediately. It will be replaced with an online education resource in June. The new online educational resource will offer a data bank of thousands of questions to help applicants test their knowledge of many specific areas of practice and be customizable to allow applicants and schools to focus their experience on areas of particular interest to them.

"All of the programmatic and operational enhancements that NCBTMB is making have full support of the Board of Directors," said Alexa Zaledonis, NCBTMB Board Chair. "This is exactly what the massage profession needs to elevate practitioners to a higher level in order to earn the respect and trust of the health care community."

NCBTMB's current exams, the NCETM and the NCETMB, which are used in 38 states, will continue to be offered to states for licensing purposes.

Finally, the NCBTMB website is getting a total redesign which will be unveiled this summer. The new site will be user friendly, and include a career section, enhanced online store, new application process and be a hub for current massage related information.

"We are committed to creating a career path for massage therapists by delivering the highest quality programs possible," said Williams. "It is going to be great."

NCBTMB was established in 1992 as an independent, nonprofit organization fostering the highest standards of ethical and professional practice in the delivery of therapeutic massage and bodywork through two recognized credentialing programs. NCBTMB examinations are currently accepted or recognized in statute or rule by 38 states. There are nearly 80,000 professionals with NCBTMB certification. NCBTMB's certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Board Certification Credential Program Description

Beginning in the first quarter of 2013, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB), will launch a board certification credential. This credential will require passing of the Board Certification exam, 750 hours of education, 250 hours of hands on work experience and passing of a background check. Additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

Criteria for new candidates

The Board Certification credential will be available to individuals meeting the following criteria.

  • Passing the Board Certification exam.
  • 750 hours of education.
  • A minimum of 250 hours of hands-on work experience. Up to 25 hours of community service may be credited toward this requirement.
  • Successful completion of a criminal background check.
  • Commitment to adhere to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
  • Additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

The only path to achieving the board certification credential is to satisfy the above criteria.

If you graduated from a program with fewer than 750 hours of education, you will need to complete continuing education for the difference. These courses must meet NCB's definition of continuing education and be taken from an NCB assigned school, an NCB approved provider or an accredited college or university.

Currently Nationally Certified Massage Therapists

Current Nationally Certified Massage Therapists, to achieve Board Certification, will need to meet the new Board Certification eligibility criteria as of their next recertification date. Passing the Board Certification exam will not be required.


Recertification will need to be completed every two years. Recertification must be completed within 90 days of the expiration of your certification. In order to retain an active Board Certification status, the following requirements must be met.

  • Complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years. Continuing education must meet NCB's definition of continuing education and be taken from an NCBTMB Approved Provider, Assigned School or an Accredited College or University.
  • 100 hours of hands on work experience or massage-related volunteerism, administration, teaching/teaching assistant, curriculum development, writing/publishing or research.
  • Commitment to adhere to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
  • Successful completion of a criminal background check.
  • Additional qualifications for recertification will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

Inactive status

For those therapists unable to meet recertification requirements due to extenuating circumstances, we will offer an inactive status for up to four years. While in an inactive status, you may not identify yourself as a Board Certified Therapist.

In order to reactivate your certification after being inactive, you must meet all backlogged recertification requirements.

Additional information will be released throughout the year.

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