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Massage Today
September 17, 2010

Updates on Wisconsin New Massage Therapy and Bodywork Law

By Betsy Krizenesky, WRMT, AMTA-WI Government Relations Chair

Effective Dec. 1, 2010, an active state license will be required to practice massage therapy and bodywork therapy in Wisconsin. The passage of AB 588, now designated as 2009 Wisconsin Act 355, is available at

Below are frequently asked questions about how this will affect the profession.


Q. If I already have a Wisconsin State Certification, how does this affect me?

A. By Oct. 6, 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing will have applications available online for licensing of the profession of massage therapy and bodywork therapy. Even if you do not get a renewal postcard, go to, under "Professions" choose Massage Therapist or Bodywork Therapist and follow instructions. It will be possible to apply via mail as well. The cost will be $75 and the new credential will be good through Feb. 28, 2013. Remember that you will also need current CPR/AED certification.

Q. Will I be required to complete continuing education in order to get this new credential?

A. No.

Q. Will my title change?

A. Yes, you will be a licensed massage therapist or bodywork therapist (LMT or LBT) instead of certified massage therapist or bodyworker (CMT or CBW).

Q. How do I qualify if I am not Wisconsin State Certified on the effective date, Dec. 1, 2010?

A. There will be a one-year window of time to apply under the grandfathering provisions. Applications will be available by Oct. 6, 2010 at


A grandfathering provision was adopted in the law to recognize existing practitioners who had not previously become state certified. This grandfathering period will run from Dec. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2011. During this period, satisfying any one of the following requirements to obtain a state license will be acceptable as a substitute for the usual combination of national exam plus educational program:

  • The applicant was actively engaged in the practice of massage or bodywork therapy by practicing for an average of 10 hours per week for at least 10 years; OR
  • The applicant passed a nationally administered entry-level competency exam; OR
  • The person was actively engaged in the practice of massage or bodywork therapy by practicing for an average of 10 hours a week for at least 3 years and successfully completed a 200 hour licensure program approved by the affiliated credentialing board; OR
  • At least 180 days before the effective date of this act (June 24, 2010 or earlier), the applicant graduated from a massage or bodywork training program that consisted of at least 600 hours.

Applicants will also have to attest that they have professional liability insurance, pass a state exam on massage and bodywork laws and regulations, have training in CPR/AED and pay fees.

Q. What will the qualifications for licensure be after the grandfathering provision expires on Dec. 31, 2011?

A. The qualifications will be the following:

  1. Complete an approved, minimum 600-hour massage therapy or bodywork therapy program.
  2. Pass a nationally administered, entry-level competency exam accepted by the board.
  3. Pass a state exam on massage and bodywork laws and regulations.
  4. Attest to having professional liability insurance (which is included in your AMTA membership).
  5. Pay the fee.


Q. Bodywork is a general term; are any practitioners exempt from licensure?

A. Specific practices are not named in the law. However, there are four exemption categories by description:

  1. Persons manipulating only the soft tissue of the hands, feet, and ears; and
  2. Persons using touch, words, and directed movement to change a client's awareness of existing patterns of movement; and
  3. Persons using touch to affect the energy systems of the human body; and
  4. Persons using touch and education to effect change in the structure of the body while engaged in the practice of structural integration.

Two additional groups are not required to get a license as a massage therapist or bodywork therapist: 1) persons whose scope of practice includes massage therapy or bodywork therapy; 2) persons who are authorized to practice by another state or country and are providing a demonstration with or consultation to another license holder.

Q. What title will I use if I practice one of the exempt practices?

A. A person who is exempt from licensure may use the terms "bodywork," "bodyworker," and "bodywork therapy."

Affiliated Credentialing Board

The law creates the Massage Therapy and Bodywork Therapy Affiliated Credentialing Board. A credentialing board has similar responsibilities to an examining board. Members are appointed by the governor and subject to senate confirmation; they will have authority to issue administrative rules interpreting the licensing law, and they will have authority to investigate complaints and discipline licensees.

Q. Who will be appointed to the Massage Therapy and Bodywork Therapy Credentialing Board?

A. The board will be comprised of six massage and bodywork therapists who have engaged in the practice of massage or bodywork therapy for at least two years. One will represent private, occupational schools approved by the Educational Approval Board and one will represent massage and bodywork programs offered by the Wisconsin Technical Colleges. A seventh member will be a public member. Each member will serve a four-year term.

Q. How do I apply to be a member of the board?

A. Members of Wisconsin state boards and commissions are vital participants in developing policy, regulation, advisory and advocacy efforts for a wide variety of issues affecting all Wisconsinites. AMTA encourages members looking for a meaningful volunteer experience within the massage therapy profession to apply. This is not a paid position and will likely be a time commitment of 10 or more hours a month. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

If you wish to apply, simply complete the Appointments Application and return it with your resume to the Governor's office by email or fax it to (608) 267-7888. You can also mail your application to Governor's Office, Appointments Department, PO Box 7863, Madison, WI 53707-7863, (608)266-7493.


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