The first goal in your career in massage is passing the state massage licensing exam in the state that you want to work in. (There are a few states that do not require an exam but they may be coming soon. Keep up to date with each state’s massage licensing laws.)
Some massage schools just teach for the test, but a great school will teach for you to pass the test and become a great massage therapist. Schools that have teamed up with various employers are more likely to just teach for the test to get you into the massage job as quickly as possible. That of course varies by employer but just beware when choosing a massage school that is connected to a franchise.
The main licensing test is the The Federation of Massage State Boards offers the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) and the National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork offers a board certification exam (BCTMB®) that is also recognized in states as a licensing exam.
The MBLEx consists of 100 questions and is a fixed length computer adaptive test (CAT). Each question must be answered in the order presented, and must be completed within the allotted time, or it will result in a failed exam.When you answer a question correctly, the next question has a slightly higher level of difficulty. The difficulty level of the questions presented to the candidate continues to increase until a question is answered incorrectly.Then a slightly easier question is presented. In this way, the exam is customized to your ability level.
There is another test that is the Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB®) exam. This Exam used to be the National Certification Exam for Massage and Bodywork (which is no longer available). Some people who took that exam may be grandfathered into states when they move. Currently the future of this exam is in question as funding was lost when the MBLEx became the main licensing exam. Learn more about the history of National Certification on my other site.
• The Board Certification exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions.
• Four choices are provided for each multiple- choice question. Only one choice is the correct answer.
• You will have 140 minutes (2.3 hours) to complete the certification exam.
• A computer scores the exam as either pass or fail.The Exam is graded via a Scale Score. Each question is graded as right or wrong; no partial credit isawarded. The Board approved the panel cut score of the Examination as 64% of items, which translatesto a raw (number correct) cut score of 77 and a Scale Score of 410
The largest hurdle to leap over is usually the anxiety around taking the massage licensing exam. The Federation of Massage State Boards Annual Report says that: “June 2021 the pass rate was 72%.”
Knowing that should help reduce your exam anxiety. Don’t worry so much. You can take it again until you pass!
By the time you are ready to take the test, it is more about test taking skills than your skills and knowledge. Take plenty of practice tests to reduce your test anxiety.
There are many tools to help you study and reduce test anxiety. Get as many as you can and take as many practice tests as you can.
Massage Licensing Test Prep Resources:
The MBLEx Check: Online Readiness Assessment is a practice exam designed to simulate the MBLEx experience. It’s a great way to prepare for the MBLEx and determine which areas you might need to focus on before testing.
The MBLEx Study Guide, published by FSMTB, is the only study guide created and endorsed by the same experts who provide the MBLEx.
Free MBLEx practice tests from Massage Envy
ABMP EXAM COACH PLUS: MBLEX PRACTICE TESTS AND STUDY GUIDE
AMTA MBLEx Study Guide: free online study guide provides MBLEx practice exams and study resources that you can access via your computer or mobile app.