Massage is an integral part of recovery from injury. Gone are the days when getting a massage is only a form of relaxation or just treating yourself. A professional therapist has undergone hundreds of hours of training. In many states, a professional license is required to legally practice. But what training is required of them if something tragic were to happen? Are massage therapists required to be trained in CPR?
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), strongly urges all therapists to check the requirements in their particular state to legally practice.1 Another professional organization, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) similarly gives the same recommendation.2
Here’s a sampling of regulations from 2 states, one with a specific CPR requirement and another that does not.
To become licensed, an individual must meet certain standards and requirements established by the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). More specifically, the State Board of Massage Therapy promulgates said standards. It states that a licensee must have a Required Knowledge Base to include CPR.3 Adult CPR certification must be maintained through an approved provider such as the American Heart Association or American Red Cross and be valid for at least 6 months following the date of application.4,5
For healthcare providers and healthcare adjacent careers we recommend the American Heart Association BLS Provider course or its equivalent from the Red Cross.
Connecticut requires graduation from a course of study that was either (A) accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or by a state board of post-secondary technical trade and business schools; or (B) accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).6 COMTA however, does not list CPR training as one of its Curriculum Competencies.7 The state of Connecticut does however require that a student have a code from a national credentialing board (NCBTMB) to test.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) does not list CPR training as part of its breakdown of the Massage Therapy Assessment for Certification (MTAC). That is a personalized assessment of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam.7,8
The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is the most widely accepted entry-level licensure exam in the US & does not require CPR certification as a prerequisite. Every state (except Vermont & Wyoming) in the US has also enacted Massage Practice Laws. These are subject to change, so it’s best to consult the individual state where you choose to practice.
- State Regulations. (2021). American Massage Therapy Association. https://www.amtamassage.org/state-regulations/
- Massage Therapy State Licensing Requirements. (2021, June 10). Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. https://www.abmp.com/practitioners/state-requirements
- 49 Pa. Code § 20.13. Required knowledge base. (n.d.). Pennsylvania Code. Retrieved July 31, 2021, from http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pacode?file=/secure/pacode/data/049/chapter20/s20.13.html
- Pennsylvania State Board of Massage Therapy. (2017, March). STATE BOARD OF MASSAGE THERAPY CONTINUING EDUCATION. http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/MassageTherapy/Documents/Applications%20and%20Forms/Non-Application%20Documents/MTM%20-%20Acceptable%20CPR%20for%20Licensing%20Requirement.pdf
- 49 Pa. Code § 20.21. Application for temporary practice permit, initial licensure and licensure by reciprocity. (n.d.). 49 Pa. Code § 20.21. Retrieved August 1, 2021, from http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pacode?file=/secure/pacode/data/049/chapter20/s20.21.html
- Massage Therapist Licensing Requirements. (n.d.). CT.Gov – Connecticut’s Official State Website. Retrieved August 1, 2021, from https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/Massagetherapist/Massage-Therapist-Licensing-Requirements
- Massage Therapy Curriculum – COMTA. (n.d.). Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation. Retrieved August 1, 2021, from https://comta.org/massage-therapy-training/curriculum/
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). (2021, May 21). MTAC. NCBTMB. https://www.ncbtmb.org/mtac/