NCBTMB Board Certification Changes

By Editorial Staff

NCBTMB Board Certification Changes

By Editorial Staff

As the massage therapy profession moves forward to be included in the allied health care professions, such as physical therapists, phlebotomists, medical assistants, etc., the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) announced key changes to its board certification requirements, and corresponding exam.

"Over the past few years, and at the request of the profession, NCBTMB has diligently reviewed levels of massage therapy education across the country. We recognize how important hours are in education, particularly when it comes to CE—which always has and will continue to be a vital component of our certification program," explained Donna Sarvello, VP of Educational Support.

Sarvello continued, "What we have learned, however, is that not all foundational hours are created equal and, furthermore, are not always indicative of a therapist's success on the Board Certification Exam. For that reason, NCBTMB supports the theory that competency-based criteria are a better indication of a therapist's success."

These new requirements are to help further align with other health care professions and embrace similar competency-based criteria.

  • Graduate from a NCBTMB assigned school.
  • Passing score on the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam.
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB).
  • Verification of current massage therapy state licensure.
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
  • NCBTMB removed its previously mandated 750 hours of education and 250 hours of professional, hands-on work experience.

Sarvello also said, "In addition to the new requirements, we felt strongly that the Board Certification Exam be strengthened to reflect the needs of the profession. This was further confirmed with the profession's request for an updated exam in our recently completed Job Task Analysis. The dedicated members of our Item Writing Committee—subject matter experts with decades of experience—worked tirelessly to research, identify, and write new questions to create a rigorous exam worthy of the profession's only true certification program. This exam and the competencies required to achieve a passing score will further ensure therapists' success in the medical profession, when working as part of an integrative health care team, or simply to differentiate themselves from entry-level licensed therapists."

As part of the process, medical and allied health care professions were researched to determine what, if any, educational requirements were mandatory for certification. As expected, competency was often not measured in foundational hours but rather in assessment-based exams and proof of continued education. Such findings were the impetus for changes made by the NCBTMB.

Board Certification renewal requirements remain mainly unaffected. However, 100 hours of hands-on work experience is no longer required. The application cost for Board Certification remains at $250 with an additional $25 background check fee. Candidates requiring a portfolio review will be assessed an additional $75 fee.

For more information on Board Certification requirements, or to apply, please visit www.ncbtmb.org/certificants/. A breakdown of the revised Board Certification exam categories can be viewed at: www.ncbtmb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/18-08-03-BCETMB-Breakdown-PROOF.pdf?x77929.