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Massage Today
August, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 08

Your Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions Get Answered by NCBTMB

By Alexa Zaledonis, NCBTMB Board of Directors

There are many exciting changes going on at the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). The outcome is going to be amazing, but during this transition, I know there are questions floating around that I would love to address.

I know everyone understands that change can be a challenge and that to be successful change must be executed in proper order. Like putting your shoes on before your pants, it just doesn't work. Sometimes this order seems like it takes forever, but have no fear, we have been working very hard and are going to be unveiling great products and programs throughout the remainder of 2012.

So, to help clarify any confusion, here are the top five frequently asked questions massage therapists are asking and we want to answer:

Question One

You have exams now and a new one coming out in 2013. I am not sure if I took the exam, need to take the exam, already took it and can't remember... please can you explain the differences?

Let me make this as simple as I can. If you are not sure you took one of the National Certification exams please call NCBTMB at 1-800-296-0664, or e-mail , and we will be happy to work with you and let you know.

NCBTMB - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Today through December 31, 2012, we offer two exams – the NCETM and the NCETMB. These exams can be taken just as they have been for more than 20 years. Actually, we suggest you DO take our exams and become Nationally Certified by the end of the year. Why, you ask? If you jump on the train of National Certification now, you will have four years from your recertification date to complete the rest of the requirements to become Board Certified without taking the Board exam. If you are ready sooner, you can convert to Board Certification at that time. Of course, if you choose not to become Nationally Certified now, you can take the new Board Certification exam at a later date and meet the new requirements.

As of January 1, 2013, we will still offer the NCETM and the NCETMB exams, BUT they will only be used to fulfill state licensing requirements and will NOT be used for board certification. The new Board Certification exam will be available as a voluntary credential beginning with the first quarter of 2013.

Question Two

I am sure that I am Nationally Certified. Do I need to renew now or wait until the new credential comes out?

If you are due to recertify before December 31, 2012, then renew now. By keeping your National Certification in an active status, you will have four years from your recertification date to complete the new requirements to become Board Certified, without taking the Board Certification exam. Don't wait and let your status lapse because you will have to take the new exam! If you are due to recertify in 2013 and are not ready to meet the new eligibility requirements at that time, you may want to recertify by the end of this year (2012) to give yourself more time to meet the new requirements.

Question Three

I took one of your exams under the NESL option, but I never converted to National Certification. Do I have to take the new Board Certification exam to get the Board Credential?

This depends. If it has been less than two years since the date of your exam, then you can convert to National Certification. You must convert two years from the date of your exam or by December 31, 2012; whichever comes first. By keeping your National Certification status active, you will not have to take the new Board Certification exam, you will just need to meet all other requirements. If it has been longer than two years since your exam date, you will have to meet all Board Certification requirements, including the new exam. Stay in active status and you won't have to take another test. Active is good, while inactive is bad.

Question Four

My school is only 500 hours; do I have to increase my hours to 750 to stay in compliance?

No, you do not have to increase the hours. NCB's two licensing exams are based on a 500-hour program. Board Certification is voluntary and can only be achieved after graduation and meeting the new Board requirements. Your current program is a sure fit for our licensing exam and then you can begin down the pathway of becoming Board Certified through continuing education to meet the additional 250-hour education requirement (750 total).

Question Five

I have been a therapist for a long time, but my situation is different than a lot of other people. How will you help me?

This is a question we hear a lot. Many therapists have had very unique pathways to their massage career and we recognize that everyone does not fit into a "box." We will have portfolio review specialists that can look at your specific situation to help determine what you need to do to become eligible for Board Certification without starting your life over again! Remember, we are in this together.

Additional Help

Another questions we're often asked is what about specialties? Rest assured, the NCB Board has completed a lot of research and listened carefully and we agree that massage therapists need to be recognized in their area of concentration. Look at the Board Certification as a credential that is followed by a concentration. For example, it's just like university studies, like getting a BS with a concentration in finance. We get it. Just hang tight, there is more to come and it is going to be great.

I can't tell you everything now or you won't read my next article. If you have any questions, we are here to help. Please call us (800-296-0664) or send us an e-mail ( ) with your questions. I remain committed to raising the standards and creating an exciting pathway for massage therapists to build and grow their careers.

Editor's Note: For additional information about the new NCBTMB Board Certification, read "NCB Announces New Credential" from the May 2012 issue of Massage Today.


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