A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Maryland: Different levels of massage practice

In Maryland, the massage school experience is a little different! The state sets especially rigorous standards. There are different levels of massage practice. To actually wear the title ‘Licensed Massage Therapist’, or LMT, one must complete not only a massage therapy program but a considerable amount of college coursework, roughly the equivalent of an associate's degree.

A student can attain the status of Registered Massage Practitioner (RMP) without meeting this requirement. While massage practitioner is a less common title, Maryland massage practitioner educational requirements are more on a par with massage therapist requirements around the nation: higher than many, lower than some.

A Maryland massage practitioner can do many of the same things that a massage therapist can but cannot practice in a healthcare setting. Maryland code prevents healthcare professionals from making massage referrals to individuals who are not licensed massage therapists. The State Board of Chiropractic Examiners notes that chiropractor’s offices are not acceptable settings for Registered Massage Practitioners (https://health.maryland.gov/chiropractic/Pages/faq.aspx). This means that in order to work in one very common setting, a person will need higher education. A person who already holds a degree, though, will have a shortened path.

Qualifying education does not have to be completed all at once.

Select a Maryland Massage Therapy School Topic:

Massage Practitioner/ Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

All Maryland massage students can expect a foundation in the following:

  • Anatomy/ physiology/ kinesiology
  • Theory, technique, and practice
  • Contraindications
  • Professional ethics

Like other states, Maryland mandates that the massage therapy hours be completed through an approved program.

A prospective LMT will need 60 credit hours of higher education along with either 24 credit hours of coursework in basic and applied healthcare-related sciences or 24 hours of approved advanced continuing education in massage therapy. Higher education is to come from an institution that is approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

The MHEC website includes information about both colleges and private career schools (http://mhec.maryland.gov/institutions_training/Pages/default.aspx). The schools themselves can be a resource. The College of Southern Maryland, for example, offers an advanced certificate program, which it notes may be useful for individuals who were educated in other jurisdictions.

Maryland Massage School Options

A prospective student will find multiple associate's degree massage therapy programs in Maryland – this is the "complete package" that will allow a person to become a Licensed Massage Therapist: incorporating the qualifying healthcare coursework as well as the credit hours.

A student who takes an associate's degree program in massage therapy will likely get some massage-related coursework beyond the minimum standards for licensure. LMTs are prepared for work in healthcare settings; thus, a course in medical massage would have more applicability. The program could also include a course in massage therapy research -- scientific research is part of what is changing the face of massage and making it an accepted part of healthcare.

There are plenty of certificate and diploma options in Maryland as well. The same therapeutic massage program may prepare a person for RMP or RMT, depending on prior or concurrent education. Some Maryland massage schools offer programs of different lengths designed as preparation for different levels of practice. Certificate and associate’s level programs may be differentiated in part by the amount of time devoted to application of practical skills. The longer program may include an extended internship experience. An associate’s degree program will also include a limited amount of general studies coursework.

Some Maryland massage professionals opt for an adjunct national credential: board certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Students who want this optional credential should enroll in programs that have been assigned codes by the NCBTMB. Nine Maryland schools have been assigned codes. Board certified massage therapists are held to an even higher educational standard: 750 hours. For some, this will mean completing coursework beyond what is offered or required in the initial program. Maryland massage therapists can select from many options including the acu-trigger approach, practical body mechanics, hot stone massage, and incorporation of reiki techniques (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-provider).

The initial clinic practice may be structured to provide experience with many types of massage and bodywork (for example, sports massage, myofascial, shiatsu).

Funding sources can extend beyond traditional financial aid. Some Maryland programs are WOIA-eligible (http://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/train/). Some are approved as VA training.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Maryland massage therapists enjoy a median wage of $21.24 an hour. Just 10% make less than $10.19 per hour. Another 10% make more than $51.69. (It’s this last figure that makes the state unusual – only Alaska tops it.)

Nationwide massage therapists receive higher compensation in some industries than others. Healthcare tends to be a little more lucrative than personal care (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm).

Wages are highest in the Baltimore/ Columbia/ Towson area. Here the median is $21.73. This is also the area of the state with the highest massage therapist employment levels, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home). The small number of Maryland massage therapists employed in the greater Wilmington metropolitan area, though, may enjoy higher wages. The median for this tri-state area is $31.29; this makes it the tenth highest paying metropolitan area in the nation.

In the Silver Spring/ Frederik/ Rockville area, the median is $17.59. In Salisbury, the median is $17.88.

Maryland massage therapy employment is predicted to increase an extraordinary 33.7% between 2014 and 2024 -- not quite the nation-leading rate of growth in this hot field, but close. This would take employment from a base of 1,790 up to 2,400 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).

What type of work are some of Maryland’s most skilled and savvy massage therapists doing? One can drop by the webpage of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Integrative Medicine to take a look (http://cim.umaryland.edu/Patient-Care/Outpatient-Services/Massage).

Narrowing it Down

Massage Therapy School in Gaithersburg

Massage School in Baltimore