How to Become a Massage Therapist in Pennsylvania

Our most frequent question prospective students ask is, “What does it take to become a massage therapist?”

To help prospective students, we’ve created a guide on becoming a massage therapist in Pennsylvania. You’ll learn what to look for when deciding on a massage therapy program, the courses you’ll take, and what happens after you’ve completed your program. 

Enroll In a Board-Certified Massage Therapy School

If you’re serious about a career in massage therapy, it’s essential to look for a board-certified massage therapy program. These are typically offered at trade schools, colleges, and stand-alone massage therapy looks like NEPA School of Massage.

We advise finding a few schools you’re interested in, scheduling a tour, and meeting with the teachers. After all, your success as a student comes down to your education and the hands-on experience you gain throughout the course of a program. 

Regardless of the program, the state of Pennsylvania requires every massage therapy student to complete at least a 600-hour board-certified program that includes the following: 

  • 175 hours of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology
  • 250 hours of massage theory and practice
  • 25 hours of business and ethics
  • 150 hours of coursework appropriate to massage therapy school

At NEPA School of Massage, we’ve handcrafted our program based on our education and combined 30 years of experience in the field. All to give our students the greatest chance of success in their careers.

The program at NEPA School of Massage consists of: 

  • 32 hours of business and professional ethics and conduct
  • 14 hours of health and hygiene
  • 16 hours of massage therapist self-care
  • 40 hours of principles of touch and communication
  • 94 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 40 hours of pathology
  • 41 hours of kinesiology and assessment
  • 122 hours of Swedish massage therapy
  • 132 hours of advanced massage therapist
  • 26 hours of clinical massage
  • 14 hours of pharmacology
  • 10 hours of aromatherapy 
  • 30 hours of clinic
  • 6 hours of MBLEx preparation 

Contact us today if you’re interested in scheduling a tour of NEPA School of Massage.

Pass the Licensing Exam

After completing all the required hours of your massage therapy program, you’ll be ready to take the licensing exam. All massage therapy students must pass an approved licensing exam to start working. 

The MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensure Examination) is the name of the exam for Pennsylvania. It’s a 100-question test that takes about two hours, testing your knowledge of massage therapy and practical, real-world application. You’ll receive either a pass or fail score. If you fail, you’ll obtain a report breaking down your performance and giving you areas where you can improve.

The Application Process

Once you pass your exam, you can apply and register with the state of Pennsylvania as a fully licensed massage therapist! 

To receive your state license, you have to do a few things first:

  • Submit your application to the PA Department of State
  • Pay the application fee (fees are subject to change by year). 
  • Request and send your school transcripts directly to the Pennsylvania Board.
  • Submit a current CPR certification
  • Provide a copy of your driver’s license or valid ID
  • Submit a copy of your high school diploma
  • Obtain a background check for the last five years; PA residents can submit their form via the Pennsylvania State Police.

All forms must be submitted within six months, or else you’ll have to reapply and submit another application fee. The initial review takes up to fifteen days to complete. 

Once you receive your license, you’ll be able to apply for jobs, start your own business, or become a traveling massage therapist at resorts around the country. With a massage therapy license in hand, a world of opportunities opens up for you. 

Continuing Education

But of course, that’s not the end. You’ll need to stay in good standing with the state by earning continuing education credits each year. These credits are requirements for every massage therapist, and NEPA School of Massage offers continuing education courses throughout the year. 

Here’s what else you need to know about CE credits: 

  • 24 credits need to be completed every two years
  • 16 hours must be hands-on, in-person hours
  • 8 hours can be remote or in-person
  • 2 hours of child abuse recognition and reporting
  • Every two years, you’ll need to pay a license renewal fee
  • CPR certification needs to stay up to date and doesn’t count toward CE credits

The Best 5 Parts of Massage Therapy School

Deciding to become a massage therapist can be one of the biggest decisions you make for your career.

While the educational demands of learning anatomy, kinesiology, and pathology for a massage therapist can seem like a challenge for some, it’s important to remember that massage school isn’t all memorizing anatomical terms and massage techniques.

It’s also learning to connect with other people who often share a similar interest in a holistic approach to life.


One of the most obvious perks to attending massage therapy school is the massage trades that happen during hands-on classes. Students learn by practicing techniques on each other and taking turns being on the massage table themselves.

Being massaged on a weekly basis has huge benefits to crafting your own skills but also taps into your own personal healing. Experiencing this type of self-care through therapeutic touch is a great way to jump-start your own path to becoming a massage therapist.


Following your intuition is a necessary skill to be successful as a massage therapist, which is why many schools offer certain classes to guide you to do just that. Through fun interactive assignments, massage students learn how to connect with their clients, listen to their inner voice, and also interpret body language or reactions.

This is a skill that will take you from being an average therapist to a “SuperHero.”


Outside of learning the skilled trade of massage therapy, you will also become familiar with different approaches to holistic living. From studying healthy eating, exercise, deep breathing and yoga, Eastern medicine, meditation, affirmations, and mindfulness, students will be presented with a wide variety of healthy living techniques to implement into their daily lives.


In a private massage school setting, class sizes tend to be smaller and more intimate for learning. This is a great opportunity to mentor closely with a local massage teacher.

Learning from someone who has created a life for themselves with a massage career is crucial to developing as a therapist. Talking with them on a regular basis, learning from their experience, and sharing their passion for massage is a bonus to attending massage therapy school.


Many people who go through a massage therapy program say one of the best parts was the new friendships they formed with other students. Trading massages and learning about self-healing creates an atmosphere that fosters a connection between the students.

More often than not, students will continue their friendships beyond massage school and into their professional careers. This also helps create an industry where we can build each other up by referring clients and continuing to trade massages.

Ultimately, the best parts of massage therapy school will be what you make of it. Showing up every day with a positive attitude and warm energy is an important way to make learning fun!

Is a Career in Massage Therapy Right for You?

Massage Therapists are rapidly growing in demand since the pandemic as many people are starting to take their health more seriously. Massage therapy is now a bigger part of the conversation around healthcare than ever before.

We are starting to see massage offered in more settings such as corporate offices and hospitals. Thus creating a plethora of jobs for massage therapists across the country.

Locally speaking, massage business owners are struggling to find therapists to fulfill their hiring needs.

Now is a perfect time to enter into the massage therapy field. Demands are high and the therapist community is low in numbers.

However, this career isn’t ideal for everyone. There are many things to consider when deciding if a massage therapy career is right for you.

Exploring the ins and outs and some self discovery can help you come to the right conclusion of what will work for you!


Do you like working with people?

Enjoying human interaction is an absolute must for this career. As a massage therapist you will constantly be meeting new people all with their own unique personalities and energies. Being able to appreciate all types of lifestyles, body types, races and genders is essential.

How physically demanding do you want your career to be?

Consider the fact that massage therapists invest their own physical (and emotional) energy into every session they perform. Certain sessions can be more physically demanding than others and therapists must learn to practice proper self care to counterbalance that body exertion.

Is living a healthy lifestyle important to you?

As stated above, self care and healthy living are essential to maintaining a long term career in massage therapy. Proper sleep, exercise and whole food eating are at the top of the list of daily practices to ensure you can be the best therapist for your clients. Clients will also naturally look to you as a guide for healing and health.

Self employment vs. employee.

One great thing about becoming a massage therapist is the different employment options. Some therapists opt to be self employed by starting their own small business or LLC, while other therapists thrive as an employee at a spa or various other massage therapy businesses. It’s also perfect as a part time job to supplement a career you may already have!

A day in the life of a massage therapist.

Besides performing sessions with clients, a massage therapist has many other responsibilities. Depending on where you are employed you may be required to answer phone calls and schedule appointments, accept payment at the end of a session, attend to the constant flow of laundry, and general cleaning and up keep of the establishment.

Building a clientele.

Having a full book of regular clients most likely won’t happen overnight. If your goal is to be self employed, many massage therapists will allow their clientele to grow while they supplement with secondary employment.

The best way to build a strong group of regular clients is to be consistent with your quality of massages.

If you are debating whether a massage career is right for you, consider booking an appointment with a local massage therapist like

Take a tour of NEPA School of Massage in Kingston, PA by calling 570-328-7898!