One-year certificate and two-year associate's degree programs in acupressure and massage therapy provide classroom instruction as well as hands-on workshops where students apply their acupressure knowledge. Some online courses are available. At a minimum, applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED to gain admission into an acupressure or massage therapy program. Both programs may require the completion of a clinical practicum.
Two of the leading, nationally accredited agencies for training in acupressure include the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Acupressure professionals generally hold a license in a different area of healthcare, such as nursing, acupuncture or massage therapy, since there is currently no specific acupressure license available. Accredited formal education programs prepare students for state licensing exams. There is also no standard credentialing agency for acupressure.
Certificate of Achievement in Acupressure
Offered through massage schools or independent establishments, certificate programs require students to take 600-800 hours of coursework. Students learn how the theories of 'chi' and energy meridians pertain to massage. Typical coursework included in a certificate program for acupressure includes anatomy and physiology, business and ethics, aromatherapy, nutrition, and kinesiology.
Associate of Science in Massage Therapy
Associate's degree programs in massage therapy typically allow students to specialize in a specific area of massage, including acupressure. Students complete 800-900 hours of instruction with an additional 200-300 hours in supervised clinical practice. Courses include medical terminology, small business management, pathology, and a modality specialty, such as acupressure. Graduates of an associate's degree program can transfer into other healthcare fields, including physical therapy, athletic training, sports medicine or medical massage.
Acupressure professionals should have strong communication skills, the ability to generate new clientele, and be self-starters. They also need to be able to make clients feel comfortable before, during and after a massage session. Many businesses expect that applicants have 2-4 years of experience in the massage therapy and acupressure industry. For those seeking acupressure careers in the spa or resort industry, most businesses require applicants to possess at least one year of experience in that environment. They also need to have liability insurance and state certification in massage therapy, if the state has massage therapy regulations. Additionally, certain businesses require applicants have at least 500 hours of training.
Licenses and Certifications
Graduates of acupressure or massage therapy programs may seek certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). According to the NCBTMB, there are currently 37 states that use its examinations for licensing purposes (www.ncbtmb.org). Candidates must possess a minimum of 500 classroom hours of instruction before they can apply for the exam. Recertification must be completed every four years. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) administers the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Unlike the NCBTMB, there are no education or eligibility requirements to take the MBLEx exam. Additionally, there are no recertification requirements, so candidates possess certification for life.
Continuing education courses must be completed for acupressure professionals to keep their certification from the NCBTMB. Applicants can learn about the latest acupressure techniques and how to improve business skills. Certain colleges and professional organizations offer online or DVD courses and classroom instruction for applicants to complete, some of which are approved by state licensing boards. Additionally, professional organizations in the acupressure field offer single and multi-day workshops where acupressure professionals use holistic healing to relieve patients' pain, promote good health, and reduce stress. They also learn specific acupressure and reflexology techniques through hands-on practice. Acupressure associations host two-day acupressure seminars for those in the industry. These seminars feature keynote speakers to discuss nutrition, breathing exercises, and acupressure techniques.
There are a number of message schools or other independent institutions that offer certificate programs in acupressure that teach the theories and practices of acupressure. Additionally, some related associate's degree programs offers specializations in acupressure and offer some courses on the business side of operations.