A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Minnesota

Minnesota does not set massage therapist education requirements at the state level. There are still plenty of reasons to go to massage school, though, if one seeks a career in massage or bodywork. A number of local municipalities do set educational standards. St. Paul, for example, requires new massage therapists to pursue 500 hours of education through a licensed or accredited school -- an education on a par with what is required in many jurisdictions around the nation.

Going to therapeutic massage school is not just about meeting legal standards but about getting a good job in the industry. A recent sampling of employment postings found a number of organizations specifying minimum educational standards:

  • A family chiropractic noted that only those who have completed certified massage therapy programs could be considered.
  • A well-known massage franchise specified 500 hours of accredited schooling.
  • A natural care center also sought someone who had graduated from an accredited program – even if they had graduated very recently.

Fortunately, while Minnesota may not be big on comprehensive statewide regulation of the massage industry, it is big on massage! The occupation is growing at a fast rate, and there are plenty of therapeutic massage schools to choose from.

Select a Minnesota Massage Therapy School Topic:

The Massage Therapy Curriculum

There has been some standardization of core curriculum over the years. The following are among the content areas considered necessary for safe, competent practice:

  • Education in human body sciences like anatomy, physiology, and pathology
  • Training in basic techniques (e.g. percussion)
  • Hands-on training in one or more modalities
  • Education in legalities, safe hygienic practices, and contraindications (e.g. when massage techniques are not advised)

The program will provide students with the opportunity to practice on fellow students and sometimes members of the public. Public practice usually takes place in an on-site student clinic. Sometimes other opportunities present themselves. (One recent Plymouth posting noted that students could be considered if they had completed 250 hours of education and received a student license from the City of Plymouth.)

Programs can be quite varied. Some emphasize Swedish massage, a foundational Western modality. Others cover many types of massage, including those that involve very light touch. There are numerous massage modalities and so-called “allied modalities” often taught in conjunction with massage. While all programs should develop awareness of contraindications, some provide more emphasis on treatment of special populations, from infants to the frail or elderly.

Ensuring the Legitimacy and Quality of One’s Massage Therapy Education

Would-be massage therapists should, at minimum, make sure that the programs they are considering are authorized to provide massage therapy education. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education licenses the state's career schools. A prospective student can visit the website to check on the status of a school and find out other very basic information (http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/sPages/141Info.cfm?instID=1070&pageID=470).

It can also be a good idea to match programs against national standard setters. State approval is typically more fundamental than national accreditation, but national accreditation can be advantageous. The Commission on Massage Therapy Education (COMTA) is specifically geared toward massage therapy. However, massage schools may be accredited by other organizations such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) sets 500 hours as the minimum for assignment of a code; this code is used by examination candidates as part of the qualification process. Schools that have gone through the NCBTMB review process are sometimes referred to as “assigned schools”. Assignment can be thought of as a status as well as a component of the national board certification process. If one attends an assigned school that includes the full 750 hours of programming that will be required for board certification, he or she is likely to have met the majority of educational requirements for licensure in most states—however, this is far from guaranteed.

Assigned schools include at least the following minimum hours in specific content areas (http://www.ncbtmb.org/schools/assigned-schools):

  • Body sciences: 125 hours
  • Pathology: 40 hours
  • Hands-on instruction in theory, assessment, and application: 200 hours
  • Business and ethics: 10 hours

Minnesota has an unusually high number of assigned programs: 20. It appears that massage therapy schools want to establish that they are providing massage therapy education at the expected level even when it is not mandated!

There are a number of other certification agencies that grant specialty credentials. Professionals who are affiliated with premier schools and medical centers often have quite a few letters behind their name. The Mayo Clinic, for example, has a therapist on board who is an Ashiatsu Massage Therapist and Infant Massage Instructor as well as a Board Certified Massage Therapist (http://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/services-and-treatments/massage-therapy).

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Minnesota massage therapists enjoy a median salary of $20.86 an hour. (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home) Just 10% of the state’s massage therapists earn less than $11.64 an hour. Another 10% earn more than $31.11. The Minneapolis/ St. Paul/ Bloomington metropolitan area and Rochester metropolitan area lead the state; median wages are between $21 and $22 an hour. The 90th percentile wage is higher in Rochester; 10% of the massage therapists there make more than $34.51 an hour.

The massage therapy occupation has been predicted to see 24% growth in the 2014 to 2024 decade (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).

Keeping Up with Minnesota Standards

A Minnesota massage therapy student may want to become a member of the American Massage Therapy Association or at least save a link to the website (https://www.amtamassage.org). AMTA posts legislative updates. Another resource is Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (https://www.abmp.com/practitioners/state-requirements).

One attempt at massage therapy regulation failed in 2016, but it came closer than previous attempts.

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Massage School in Minneapolis, MN

Massage School in St. Paul, MN