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