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What To Know About Massage Therapy CE Requirement Changes

By Massage Today, Editorial Staff
September 9, 2021

What To Know About Massage Therapy CE Requirement Changes

By Massage Today, Editorial Staff
September 9, 2021

As spring 2020 left many massage therapists scrambling to re-organize their businesses, states were also making swift changes.  Massage licensing boards across the country were looking at how massage therapists could safely complete the continuing education (CE) needed to renew licenses. We talked to a few state boards to see how some states responded during that time, what changes are still in place, and what massage therapists might expect in the coming months regarding CE requirements for license renewal.  

States Adjusted CE Requirements and Waived Fees for Massage Therapists During Covid

North Carolina was quick to enact mandatory shutdowns in March 2020. “Our licensing board made the decision on March 16, 2020, prior to the mandatory shutdown and using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, that all 24 hours of CE could be done online for the 2020 renewals,” explains Rachel Mann, LMBT, AMTA-NC government relations chair.

Tennessee was also quick to act on CE requirement changes in the wake of COVID-19. Kimberly Hodge, Tennessee massage board director, explains as a response to affected licensees during COVID-19 and the governor's executive order, their board extended license renewal dates from 60 days to 100 days until the order expired in August 2020. “Upon expiration of the executive order, the renewal notice dates returned to 60 days for regular mail and 70 for email notification,” explains Hodge. “The Department of Health also understood that the effects of COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of in-person/live continuing education courses, resulting in the inability of licensees to obtain the requisite number of in-person/live continuing education credits/hours. The Commissioner of Health issued a policy that allowed suspending in-person/live continuing education credits/hours to be a necessary response as a result of COVID-19.”

Nevada did not make any adjustments to their CE requirements throughout the last year and a half. Sandy Anderson, LMT, executive director of the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy, explains how the state already had virtual education set up prior to the pandemic, which made transitioning to fully virtual learning easier. “Nevada already had the ability to take CE online; therefore, no adjustment was necessary,” she says. “Our licensees are sprinkled across the state in rural counties, where attending in-person CE may create a hardship. The board had addressed this previously and accommodated the licensees while still addressing the need for continued competency.”

Anderson points out that even though changes to CE requirements weren’t made in her state, they did waive late fees for one year. “We waived all late fees for a period of one year after the state of emergency ended,” explains Anderson. “This allowed licensees who are/were unemployed to not accrue late fees while they were not working.”

What CE Requirement Changes are Still in Place for Massage Therapists? 

Arizona’s 24-hour continuing education requirement for license renewal is still waived for the remainder of 2021. However, applications and fee payments are still required when submitting renewals. Also, renewing within 60 days of license expiration is still allowed.

In New Mexico, the massage therapy board has allowed all 2020 massage therapy renewal applicants six months to complete the required CE once the statewide pandemic health emergency orders are lifted.

North Carolina extended the online CE option through 2021. “Rules have been enacted that say during a governor’s declared state of emergency, the board may allow all continuing education to be obtained by distance learning,” says Mann. “Several of the occupational licensing boards in North Carolina have adopted similar rules for emergencies going forward.” 

Oregon’s state board of massage therapists reduced required CE from 25 to 12 CE hours for massage therapy license renewals in 2021. These new hours may be obtained through in-person learning, distance learning, or both.

Th Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs extended a temporary waiver this year allowing all CE requirements to be met through online courses. If the renewal is this year, licensees can renew with CE obtained through either in-person courses or distance learning. 

Pre-COVID requirements are still not in place in Tennessee. “However, beginning January 1, 2022, any continuing education credits/hours taken in 2022 will need to be obtained as required by each individual profession’s rules and regulations,” explains Hodge. 

What are Some Lingering Issues or Concerns for States Looking Ahead?

Anderson points out that the biggest issue for the state of Nevada are massage therapists not returning to work. “The biggest issue with economic recovery in our industry in our state is the licensees that have chosen not to return to work,” she says. “We have a record number of licensees listed as inactive and many establishments report difficulty recruiting therapists.” 

Hodge shares the same feeling about massage therapists’ hesitancy returning to work in Tennessee. “While we have seen most therapists whose license expired renew their license to return to practice, some still have not returned,” she explains. “With that said, one potential long-lasting effect is the loss of established licensees in the profession.”

Mann believes the ability for CE providers to reach wider audiences by teaching online will shape the future of the massage profession. “COVID-19 forced many providers to teach online that weren’t before. Many have found that this gave them a wider audience of students who previously may have not been able to travel for classes,” she explains. “It also gave them the opportunity for smaller classes as the break-even cost was less, creating a more intimate environment.” 

Mann believes this trend will continue into the future. “Recorded webinars and online classes allow for taking the class when it fits one’s schedule, re-watching of videos and listening to explanations several times when needed,” she adds.

What You Need to Renew a Massage License

Every state is handling CE requirements and considerations differently and massage therapists should check their own state’s requirements for more information. You can also check state requirements on AMTA's website.

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