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Massage Today
April 6, 2011

California Certification Recognition Awaits

By Dixie Wall, Contributing Editor

As of January 2011, over 25,000 massage therapists have applied for their professional, portable statewide certification from the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC).

However, astonishing as it may be, still there are some California therapists are still not aware of the single portable statewide certification that exempts them from local and city ordinances.  Certification from CAMTC not only gives a certificate holder freedom to practice statewide for at an affordable cost for TWO years but cultivates the respect of the public as a state regulated health care professional.

Senate Bill 731, the voluntary certification and regulation of California's massage therapists, was signed into law Sept. 27, 2008. The bill created the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), a private and non-profit entity, overseen by the legislature and run by a volunteer board of directors. The Councils objective is to protect the public by providing a comprehensive regulation and certification of massage therapists working in California. CAMTC has made great strides since its inception for therapists, the public and the massage profession as a whole.

With CAMTC certification, a therapist can practice throughout California with one convenient, portable, statewide certification. This finally eliminates the hassle of getting a city permit in every city a therapist chooses to work. Many employers are also choosing to hire only CAMTC-certified therapists. According to a survey of over 160 California massage therapy employers, over 61 percent that responded require that their therapists be CAMTC-certified.

Certification from CAMTC distinguishes a therapist in the eyes of the public and other health care professionals. Esteem and reliability is created when a health care practitioner has state-recognized certification. The titles, "certified massage therapist (CMT) or certified massage practitioner (CMP)", are exclusively reserved for those certified by CAMTC. (Note: The "certified massage practitioner" title will likely phases out completely as higher educational standards are adopted in California.) A qualified rapport is established with other health care providers when standing on common grounds of statewide regulation and restricted use of a professional title.

Currently, an application fee of $150 (fee subject to change) covers two years to practice statewide. This single fee is significantly lower than many individual cities' permit fees, let alone multiple city and county agencies' permits. CAMTC's CEO, Ahmos Netanel, summarized a massive study by CAMTC staff consisting of 8,000 therapists in over 30 municipalities. He explained, "The weighted, average amount a massage therapist has to spend for the first two years, assuming they work for an establishment, is $482. Much more if they work for themselves."

According to Kerry Lorimer, "Now that I'm a CAMTC-certified massage therapist, I have the freedom to practice anywhere in the state of California with full respect as a professional. And, with one simple fee for two years, it's more affordable for my budget. I'm proud to share with everyone that I've earned statewide recognition in California with my CMT credentials."

In addition, the city cannot require a massage establishment permit, other than a standard business license, if all the massage therapists in the place of business are certified by the CAMTC. This is fantastic news for many therapists and spa owners who have been subject to onerous regulations from cities and counties.

The intent set forth in SB 731, is to provide a system that makes it easy to identify credible massage professionals. By establishing a clearinghouse of information on massage certification applicants around the state, the public gains a clear, verifiable measure of a massage therapists credibility. When a therapist is CAMTC certified the public can rest assured that the therapist is legitimately educated.

The path to certification is fair, efficient and accommodating. Rest assured, CAMTC will not deny an applicant for working without a permit in the past. However, if he/she has been cited in the past and doesn't disclose it on the application, it may be cause for denial. It is best to reveal all the facts. CAMTC does not worry about whether or not an applicant worked for themselves, or even had a permit or business license in the past. The opportunity to come out in the open and work as a California certified massage therapist is now.

Moreover, there are several portals to certification to accommodate the needs of different therapists, which can all be viewed on the CAMTC Web site: Click on the "Certification" tab and select "Pathways to Certification" where a step by step set of directions will guide you through the simple process.

Be aware, one portal that closes at the end of this year should be noted, Portal E. This portal produces a "conditional certificate", available for the title, "massage practitioner", until Dec. 31, 2011, for those who have 100 hours of BPPVE approved education but do not have work experience documented. The condition states that the "massage practitioner" must complete at least 30 hours of massage education a year until they meet the 250-hour requirement. This "conditional certificate" was created to help therapists of long-standing stature whose schools may have closed and can no longer get transcripts.

Certification marks an enormous victory for the thousands of California therapists who have long awaited the convenience and professionalism of statewide certification. As always, I appreciate your comments at .


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