How to Become a Massage Therapist in New York

How to Become a Massage Therapist in New York

Massage therapist in New York does a great and professional job. In any state, it can be hard to get a license to do massage. When all you want to do is help other people relax, it can be stressful to figure out government websites, laws, and rules.

You may have talked to other massage therapists who made the job sound hard or gave you the wrong information. If you looked for answers on Google, you might have seen how hard it was for this woman to get a license in the state for 13 months. You might wonder if it is worth the trouble, money, and time it takes to learn.

Before you start school or move to New York, you need to know about a few special rules. We’ll talk about the rules and requirements in a way that’s easy to understand so you know what you need to do to get your massage license (with the least amount of stress possible).

First, you are probably one of these two types:

  •  You are going to school or planning to go to school in New York State at a massage school that is approved by the state.
  • You are moving to NYS from another state and have or had a license in that other state.

No matter what group you are in, you still have to meet the requirements to get a license in New York. To get a massage license in New York, you need to meet four basic requirements:

  1. Meet the minimum education requirements set by the state.
  2. Pass the massage test in New York State
  3. Complete a CPR course with a passing grade
  4. Prove you know English (if needed)

Now, let’s talk about each requirement in more detail

1. Get the minimum amount of education required by the state.

The first and most important thing to do is get the education required by the state. In New York, you need at least 1000 hours of schooling.

Going to massage school in New York

This is mostly for the first group of people I talked about, those who went to school in NYS or plan to go there. Schools that teach massage in New York must have programs that meet the 1000-hour requirement.  If you are in a New York school and ready to move on to the next step, which is your exam, you can skip this next part and go straight to the exam requirement. (Go to the Test Section)

Out of State Applicants

Now, this is for people who didn’t go to massage school in New York State but are already licensed or working in another state or country and want to get a license in New York State through an endorsement or experience.

Here is where things start to get hard, You probably looked at the 1000-hour requirement and thought right away that you don’t have enough experience to get a license. But there are a few other ways to get into New York.

Can you say “Yes” to this question?

I passed a written exam that was required to get a massage therapy license in the state where I am licensed. This exam was either the NCETMB before February 2015 or the MBLEx, and it was good enough for the State Board for Massage Therapy and the department.

AND “Yes” to ONE of the following?

I’ve been working as a licensed massage therapist for the past two to four years, and I can show that I have the equivalent of at least two years of professional experience after getting my license and 1,000 clock hours of education, which the department will accept.

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I have been a licensed massage therapist for at least 5 years and can show that I have the equivalent of at least 5 years of professional experience after getting my license and 800 clock hours of education that the department will accept.

Actually, you should look at the section on the board’s website called “Applicants Licensed in Another Jurisdiction.” There are a few more options there.

One year of experience means that massage therapy was done an average of 12 hours a week for 52 weeks.

Contact the NYS Board of Massage

If you haven’t done these things, you should talk to the board to find out what you need to do. Since I’m not on the massage board, I can’t tell you if your education is “acceptable to the department,” but I can help you figure it out. You can contact the New York Board to find out if you qualify for a license endorsement.

 Some people are afraid to send an email or call a board office. You might not know what to ask or who to ask. Here’s what I think you should put in your email or be ready to say when they call:

  •  Your massage education and training (Clock hours)
  • Exam completions
  • Active massage licenses
  • After getting your license, how much work have you done?
  • CPR status
  • Other schooling, work experience, or license (nursing, other degrees)

Here’s how to get in touch with the board.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 518-474-3817 ext. 150

If you are eligible for a license by endorsement, you can apply for your license. You might be able to get a limited permit if you meet all the requirements except for the test.

Limited permit

If NYS says you have to take their test to get a license, you might be able to get a limited permit until the next test date. The fee for a limited permit is $35. The permit is good for a year or until you find out the results of the first exam you are eligible for, whichever comes first.

You must work under the direct supervision of someone who is licensed and registered to do massage therapy in the state of New York. Even though it’s not ideal, a limited permit does let you work legally in NYS for a short time.

2. Pass the New York State Massage Exam

As I said before, New York is one of the few states that still has its own state massage board exam instead of using the MBLEx as an entry-level licensing exam. For massage therapists, taking the NYS exam is the last big step before they can get a license.

Here is all the information you need to know about the test.

2022 Exam Dates and Deadlines

The MBLEx is given every day all over the US, but the New York massage exam is only given twice a year, and each time there is a deadline for applying.



The New York exam is based on the Massage Therapy Job Analysis, which was done in 2000. (by the New York Massage Board). Scantron Assessment (formerly Castle Worldwide) and their test centers across the country and around the world supervise exams.

  • Places to Test
  • Apply for an exam
  • Exam Fees:
  • $260 for a new applicant
  • Re-admission (failed exam before), $260
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Exam applications and fees can be sent to:

  • Scantron Assessment
  • Attn: NY Exams
  • PO Box 570
  • Morrisville, NC 27560

Getting in touch with Scantron Assessment

  • Call 800-655-4845 or 919-572-6880
  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • is the website.

Exam Format Details

This is a closed-book, paper-and-pencil test. No need to know how to use a computer. There will be 140 questions with more than one answer.

There will be three hours for you to finish the test and the New York Board Rules (78.2 Licensing examination) say that you need 75% to pass the exam.

  • Getting Your Scores

Castle will send you your test results by mail, and they will only be sent to the registered candidate. Candidates will not be told their scores over the phone. If you haven’t gotten your results after three months, call 800-655-4845 to get in touch with Castle Worldwide.

New York State Massage Therapy Examination Blueprint or Outline

Exam Sections

  • Assessment & Evaluation (14% of examination – 20 questions)
  • Making a plan for treatment (29% of the exam, or 40 questions)
  • Application of Treatment Skills (72 questions and 51% of the test)
  • Professional Responsibilities, Business Practice, and Professional Ethics (6% of the exam, 8 questions)

Here’s a closer look at how these parts are put together:

Assessment & Evaluation

This part of the test is worth 14%, or 20 questions.

  • Intake interview: figuring out what the problem is and how bad it is
  • Examining a person’s body means figuring out how to treat them, getting information about their condition, figuring out what their signs and symptoms are, and understanding their medical history and diagnosis. assessment of the situation in general; Five element theory, eight principles, points and channels/meridians, and organ theory are used to find energy imbalances.
  • Movements that are passive, active, and against resistance are done to find contractures, measure flexibility, range of motion, muscle strength, pain areas, etc. Use of palpation to find and locate abnormalities, spasms, tension, injuries, adhesions, etc., and to get a general idea of the patient’s health.
  • Definition of treatment scope: Telling the patient what to expect from the treatment process, talking to the primary health care provider, getting the patient involved in the treatment process, and sending the patient to another health care provider when needed.
Making a plan for treatment

This part of the test has 29% of the questions or 40 questions.

  •  Setting treatment goals based on what treatment will be used for
  • Use knowledge from areas like anatomy, physiology, and pathology to figure out what’s wrong with a client.
  • Anatomy and physiology is the study of the location, structure, and function of the skin, muscles (including their origins, insertions, and actions), lymphatic, circulatory, immune, digestive, respiratory, skeletal, endocrine, urinary, and reproductive systems.
  • Choice of the best ways to treat; re-evaluation of the first treatment plan
Putting Treatment Skills to Use

This part of the test has 51% of the questions or 72 questions.

  • Setting up yourself, the patient, the treatment room, and positional supports
  • Techniques used in massage therapy include, but are not limited to, effleurage, friction, petrissage, vibration, rocking, trigger point therapy, connective tissue therapy, tapotement, joint manipulations, range of motion, polarity, reflexology, energy techniques, myofascial release, etc.
  • Also, Shiatsu and other Eastern techniques focus on treating points, channels/meridians, organ theory, tonification, and dispersal.
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Application of additional therapeutic techniques, such as heat, cold, and other appropriate applications to the body.

Treatment of clients with certain conditions, disorders, and diseases. This includes, but is not limited to, treatment of muscle, nerve, ligament, disc, and bone damage caused by strain, injury, repetitive motion, etc.; treatment of muscle atrophy, flaccidity, pain, swelling, inflammation, spasm, tendonitis, circulation problems, and congestion; separation of adhesions, induction of local hyperemia, promotion of lymph drainage, sedation or stimulation of nerves, etc.

Professional Ethics, Business Ethics, and Professional Responsibilities

This part of the test is worth 6%, or 8 questions.

  • Scope of Practice, especially knowledge of the laws and rules of New York State that govern the practice of massage therapy, such as how to get a license, register, advertise, etc.
  • Keeping client records, including their completeness, length of time kept, privacy, etc.
  • First Aid and Safety
  • Knowledge of how the East works

This is not a separate part of the exam. Instead, there will be 20 questions about Eastern methods (such as meridians, Asian theory, Ayurveda, etc.) in different ways.

3. Pass a course on how to do CPR

Before you can get a license, you must show proof that you took a course in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) within the last three years.

It’s not hard to find a CPR course. Here are some places to start:

  •  Association of the American Heart
  • Red Crescent

4. Show proof that you can speak English (If Applicable)

If you learned massage in a country where English is not the main language, you will need to show proof that you can speak English well. (The Commissioner’s Regulations, Section 59.3, says this)

 If you went to school in a country where English is not the main language, two of the most common ways to do this are:

  1.  Provide a passing score on a standard English test, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or an equivalent.
  2. Provide a passing score from a written professional licensing exam given in English, such as the New York State Exam, MBLEx, or NCETMB.


You might be a good massage therapist if you have strong, skilled hands and believe in the healing power of touch. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the need for massage therapists will grow quickly in the coming years, which is good news. In the 2022 US News 100 Best Jobs survey, the job is also listed as one of the best ways to make a living.

To do massage therapy as a job, you need to be trained. Most states require massage therapists to be licensed, which usually means taking a course, passing an exam, getting certifications, and buying massage therapist insurance.

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Even if you work in a state with no massage therapy rules, like Kansas, Minnesota, Vermont, or Wyoming, it’s still a good idea to get certified. A massage therapy certification shows clients that you have been trained well and that they can trust you. And the training for certification is a chance to learn more advanced techniques that can help you improve your business and get more clients.

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