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Massage Today
May, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 05

A 2010 Comparison of AMTA and ABMP

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

For many years now, Massage Today has received phone calls from therapists and potential therapists asking various questions about the two primary professional associations serving the massage and bodywork industry: the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

In response, Massage Today first published an article comparing the two associations in September 2005. (See "AMTA and ABMP: Two Associations Compared".) This article serves as the five-year update to that comparison of each association's membership statistics and benefits.

Information is derived from each association's respective Web site, as well as from interviews with Ron Precht, AMTA communications manager, and Bob Benson, ABMP chairman.

American Massage Therapy Association

Begun on Aug. 16, 1943, by 29 Charter members from the College of Swedish Massage in Chicago, the association developed a pledge with a commitment to service, ethical practice, and the massage therapy profession. Dues of 50 cents were collected. Currently, the AMTA maintains chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. AMTA is the largest non-profit association for massage therapists and is governed by a member-elected national board of directors and seeks to support massage therapists and bodyworkers through research, public awareness, education, legislative efforts, educational events and a national convention. AMTA is the primary benefactor for the Massage Therapy Foundation, providing more than $500,000 each year to support its efforts for massage research.

According to AMTA, the organization had nearly 57,000 members in the following categories as of February 2010:

  • Professional members - 51,000
  • Student members - 5,500
  • School members - 330 (many with multiple campuses)
  • Supporting members - 100
    *AMTA submitted rounded off figures as of the end of February 2010.

AMTA professional membership costs $235 (plus the state chapter fee) per year; the same cost as 2005, and unchanged for more than 35 years. To qualify, applicants must have a minimum of 500, in-class, supervised educational hours, possess a current massage license in a regulated state or be certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) or through previous enrollment as a professional member.

Student membership costs $79 (plus the state chapter fee) each year. Student membership applicants must be enrolled in a minimum 500 hour, entry-level massage therapy program. The supporting membership fee is $99 (plus the chapter fee). Supporting membership is for individuals or legal entities that do not practice massage therapy but are interested in promoting massage and supporting AMTA locally and nationally. The massage school membership fee is based on gross tuition. Qualifications include proof of 500 in-class hours and proof of legal operation.

Depending on the membership category, some benefits include professional and general liability insurance - $6 million aggregate coverage per year and up to $2 million in coverage per single occurrence; a locator listing; election privileges and leadership opportunities; use of the AMTA logo; a membership certificate and card; a subscription to the Massage Therapy Journal and various other professional resources. Members also receive discounts on in-person and online continuing education, as well as on massage products.

According to AMTA, its insurance coverage breaks down as follows:

  • Professional Liability Coverage
    $2 million/occurrence; $6 million annual aggregate
  • General Liability Coverage
    $2 million/occurrence; $6 million annual aggregate
  • Products Coverage
    $2 million/occurrence; $6 million annual aggregate
  • Personal Injury
    $2 million/occurrence; $6 million annual aggregate
  • Fire and Water Coverage
  • Sexual Misconduct Allegation Defense
  • Assault Coverage
  • All coverage for claims made up to three years after the incident.

For more information, visit or call 1-877-905-2700.

Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals

ABMP was founded in 1987 by a single massage therapist and has undergone significant growth in the last 20 years. The organization is based in Golden, Colo., and is actively involved in all aspects of the massage therapy community and works on behalf of its members by offering professional support, education resources and legislative advocacy and updates.

Benefits vary by membership level, but full membership includes professional, general and product liability insurance coverage, with combined coverage up to $9 million aggregate per member, per year and $2 million in coverage per occurrence. According to ABMP, their massage insurance coverage includes:

  • $9 million in aggregate coverage per member, per year.
  • Individual coverage up to full aggregate limits vs. an aggregate coverage shared amongst all members.
  • Massage liability insurance program (managed by the same underwriter for nearly a decade).
  • Legal defense coverage.
  • Additional insured endorsements (employers, landlords, etc.) can be named on policies at no extra charge.
  • Occurrence-form coverage, rather than claims-made coverage --protection from late-filed claims.
  • Coverage at multiple work sites for multiple positions, including instructing, conducting private sessions and/or classes, and working for someone else.

Additional ABMP membership benefits include:

  • Print and digital Massage & Bodywork magazine.
  • Discounts on NCBTMB courses at the ABMP Online Education Center.
  • Successful Business Handbook.
  • Online resources, such as practice-building support for a challenging economy, free massage therapy and business webinars, customizable client brochures and newsletters, a photo library, and an online referral tool that matches new clients with members.
  • Free e-mail account and customizable Web site for their practice.
  • Comprehensive massage education site at
  • Discounts on such amenities as mobile phones and wireless services..
  • Schools and student members receive specific resources, including newsletters and online materials.
  • Educators are invited to an annual School Issues Forum and free regional day-long workshops.

According to ABMP, as of February 2010 the organization had more than 71,000 members in the following categories:

Certified members - 13,748
Professional members - 44,361
Practitioner members - 5,253
Student members - 7,009
Institutional members - 348
Supporting members - 509
*ABMP submitted specific numbers as of the end of February 2010.

In addition, ABMP's sister organization, Associated Skin Care Professionals, has more than 6,000 skin care members who solely practice esthetics.

To be eligible for ABMP membership at the certified or professional levels, applicants must hold a valid massage license in regulated states and have completed certain educational requirements (for specifics, visit

Certified membership (requiring continuing education) costs $229; professional and practitioner memberships each cost $199 per year. Student membership costs vary according to length of school term and need for insurance, starting at $45.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-458-2267.

Editor’s note: A description of the American Massage Council (AMC) was left out of this article, relating to insurance offerings. Click here to read "What Is the AMC?"


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