It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that regulations, in statute and/or rules, should provide options for portability of credentials, which can be used to help meet the licensing, certification, or registration requirements of massage therapists across the United States.
Massage therapy regulation, either through licensure or certification, is in place in 45 states and the District of Columbia (DC) at the time of this writing.1 However, regulation itself does not reflect a common standard across the nation. Because of this lack of a common standard the massage therapist will have problems 1) moving from one regulated state (or DC) to another, 2) moving from a regulated state (or DC) to an unregulated state, 3) or working in one state or DC and living in another. In order to meet the standards of the state or DC, a return to massage school may be required even for a therapist with years of experience and previous education. States without some form of massage therapy regulation are Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming.2 For therapists from these states, moving to other states or DC can present challenges as the varying standards need to be met. For therapists working near state borders or DC, the confusion of regulations and requirements also becomes very difficult.
For many years, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has supported an envisioned future of portability of massage practice, fair and consistent licensing in all states, and uniform standards for the profession.3 Other stakeholders in the profession also support the idea of portability for massage therapists.4, 5, 6
AMTA supports consistent massage therapy licensure standards that encourage reciprocity between states and eventually can achieve overall portability of massage therapy credentials. Portability, quite simply, means that the education and training credentials of a licensed massage practitioner could be more easily accepted when a practitioner moves to or opens a location in another state.7 With Portability, one regulatory agency or board can review the requirements of other jurisdictions and determine if they meet or exceed those needed in their state or District without needing to be in a reciprocal agreement with the other jurisdiction. There may also be additional requirements for the massage therapist to complete in order to fully meet the standards of the other jurisdiction. Reciprocity requires that two regulated jurisdictions agree to mutually accept the standards set by the other and grant licensure, certification, or registration based on the current credential held by the massage therapist by the reciprocal jurisdiction. Portability is a reality or goal for many professions that are regulated through licensure or other state recognized credentialing. These other professions that support portability of credentials include but are not limited to: physicians8, nurses9, realtors10, counselors11, and teachers.12 The nursing profession also has compacting for 24 states in which the license from one state is accepted for practice in another state.13
In October of 2014, an agreement was reached between the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) regarding licensure examinations. In the announcement of this agreement, the following was stated: “This supports the common goal of the FSMTB, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to be utilized as the sole licensure exam for the profession, thus facilitating licensure portability for therapists.”14
Originally proposed by M.K. Brennan, Terry Hirth Caldwell and Maureen Stott
Approved August 2015