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Massage Today
November, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 11 >> Politics & Government

CA Governor Signs Massage Therapy Reform Act

Board Structure And Educational Requirements Change

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1147, also known as the Massage Therapy Reform Act into law, passing specific measures to give local cities greater control over massage establishments, reauthorizing but reducing the size of the board of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) and elevating the professional standards requirements. The bill also authorized the CAMTC to approve schools.

The CAMTC, originally established in 2009 under SB731, will continue through January 1, 2017. The Board of Directors has been reduced to 13 members and will no longer be led by a majority of massage industry leaders. At most, and depending on which organizations exercise their right to appoint, the board will consist of only three to five members from the massage therapy community. Without those voices from the massage therapy community, it remains to be seen how this will affect the direction of the massage therapy profession in California moving forward. CAMTC CEO, Ahmos Netanel said, "the CAMTC will be better able to serve massage professionals and consumers with a board that includes a wider variety of stakeholders."

Educational Changes

AB1147 does extend the voluntary statewide certification of massage therapists, however the qualifications to become a Certified Massage Therapist have changed. According to the CAMTC, applications for certification as a Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP), will no longer be accepted on January 1, 2015. In addition, applicants for certification as a CMT must now have 500 hours of education from an approved school and have passed a CAMTC approved exam.

For those currently operating as a CMP, the changes mean that anyone wishing to upgrade to a CMT must have all 500 hours of education from a CAMTC approved school and passed a CAMTC approved exam by January 1, 2015. The following exams are CAMTC approved: the MBLEx, the NCETMB, and the NCETM. According to the CAMTC, if your request to upgrade to CMT is received in 2014 and you have already taken and passed one of the approved exams, under current law you may be upgraded without having to meet the new 2015 educational requirements. Active CMP's will be able to continue to renew every two years and keep their status. Any massage therapists currently holding a conditional certified massage practitioner certification will be able to continue to work toward their CMP.

signature - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark In a Notice to CMP's, CAMTC states, "While CAMTC will no longer accept applications for CMP certification in 2015, if you are already certified as a CMP, you can continue to be certified as a CMP as long as you do not allow your certification to lapse for six months or more. Those whose certifications lapse for six months or longer will be treated as new applicants upon re-application and must meet the current certification requirements existing at the time the application is received."

AB1147 also now gives CAMTC the authorization to approve schools, rather than just pursue the un-approval of problem schools and so-called diploma mills. According to CAMTC, the official list of approved California massage schools should be completed by 2016.

Local Control

Cities have gained greater control in enforcing local ordinances, but are prohibited from zoning massage businesses as adult entertainment. Fingerprinting and background checks have been standard since the inception of CAMTC but the new law does alter the way CAMTC processes applications from registered sex offenders. AB1147 requires that ll registered sex offenders who apply for certification be denied and any current certificate holders who are registered sex offenders must have their certification revoked.

"Today marks a historic step in our fight against prostitution and human trafficking in massage businesses," said bill co-author Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena). "These bad actors hijacked the massage industry and overwhelmed smaller cities who felt their hands were tied when dealing with the proliferation of these businesses. This bill will change the landscape of the massage business by helping legitimate therapists operate while eliminating the shady characters."

CMTC - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark "The sunset review is a healthy and welcomed exercise. It provides an opportunity to make substantive improvement to the law. We are especially pleased that the Legislature and the Governor unanimously affirmed the right of CAMTC's certificate holders to practice anywhere in California without having to obtain local permits or be subject to local background checks or medical exams," said Netanel. "The new law also explicitly states that massage can never be treated as adult entertaining by any city or county. The right to work anywhere in the state using a CAMTC certificate and the right to be treated with respect, are two important values the law affords to all CAMTC's certificate holders."

If you are unsure where you stand with your CAMTC certification, you can contact the CAMTC at or call (916) 669-5336. According to Netanel, "in the next few weeks, we will be notifying all of our certificate holders regarding the new provisions of the law as well as making sure that our operations and protocols will be in compliance with the new law as it will go into effect on January 1, 2015."


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