Massage Therapy Examinations
While not all of the states and territories in the United States regulate the massage therapy industry, the majority of states have created a somewhat standardized process that individuals can follow in order to become licensed. A major part of this process is passing a licensure exam.
Currently, the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is the only national, entry-level licensing examination that states use when assessing a candidate for licensure. The MBLEx is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, and students generally can take the examination once they have completed an accredited massage therapy education and training program. State massage therapy boards then use the results from the MBLEx along with other parts of a student's application in order to determine whether or not to license an individual.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) now only offers the Board Certification Examination (BCETM). This is an optional exam that massage therapists can take if they want further credentials. One of the requirements that students must meet in order to receive certification from the NCBTMB is to be legally verified by the state in which they plan to work.
Structure and Content of the MBLEx
The MBLEx examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that students must answer within a two-hour time frame. Rather than receiving a numerical score on the exam, students either earn a pass or fail result. Students who fail the exam also receive a score report that provides them with an idea of how well they did in each of the seven subsections of the exam; they are eligible to schedule a retake within 30 days of their initial attempt. The seven subsections of the exam and the percentage of questions found in each section are outlined below.
- Kinesiology - 12%
- Client Assessment, Reassessment & Treatment Planning - 17%
- Benefits and Physiological Effects of Techniques that Manipulate Soft Tissue - 15%
- Anatomy & Physiology - 11%
- Guidelines for Professional Practice - 15%
- Pathology, Contraindications, Areas of Caution, Special Population - 14%
- Ethics, Boundaries, Laws and Regulations - 16%
Structure and Content of the BCETM
The BCETM examination consists of 140 questions that students must attempt to complete with 140 minutes. The 140 questions are organized according to six subsections, listed below:
- Applied Science, including Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology/Injury, and Pharmacology - 25%
- Massage Modalities, Techniques, and Manual Forces - 20%
- Assessment - 25%
- Professional Communication - 15%
- Professionalism and Ethics - 10%
- Laws and Business Practices - 5%
Preparing for the Examinations
In order to pass the MBLEx and/or the BCETM exams, students may want to take advantage of the test preparation materials available to them. For the MBLEx, students can make use of the study guide published by the FSMTB that is available for purchase online. This guide contains a practice test that students can use to prepare for the exam. Study.com also offers an MBLEx Practice & Study Guide course that provides students with a comprehensive overview of the content found on the exam as well as study tools like flashcards and an MBLEx practice test.
Students who are preparing for the board certification exam offered by the NCBTMB can make use of the study guide found on the organization's website in addition to a practice test.