North Carolina has been licensing massage therapists since 1999. Many members of the public may not realize exactly what that means–other than the fact that we’ve paid for some type of license. What it actually does mean is that we have met certain standards and qualifications that allow us to practice massage in a manner that is safe and effective.
North Carolina requires that a massage therapist have a minimum of 500 hours of education, and passes the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam before a license will be issued. Included in that education:
- Theory and Practice of Massage
- Medical Terminology
- Professional Ethics and Standards of Practice
- Client Communications
- Clinical Practice
- Business Practices
We are also obligated to obtain 24 hours of additional education every two years.
You should be aware that any person practicing massage should have their license prominently displayed at their place of business, and that their license # should be included on all advertising.
Any person practicing massage who does not have a license should be reported to the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy. It should be noted that cosmetologists, hairdressers, nail technicians, and even chiropractors and acupuncturists may not hold themselves out as massage therapists. They may not advertise massage therapy unless there is a licensed massage therapist on their premises. Personal trainers are not qualified to perform massage therapy. You can look up a licensee on the Board’s website to be sure they are qualified to practice massage.
Why would it matter to you if someone is unlicensed? Primarily for your own safety. If a person has not been properly trained in the area of contraindications, for example, they could be guilty of massaging you at a time when it isn’t safe for you to have massage. There are many health conditions that prevent us from performing massage, or require that we modify treatment in some way. Don’t take a chance with an unlicensed person.