A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Missouri

The Columbia Daily Tribune recently featured an article about a woman who began a new career as a massage therapist, setting up shop next door to the Vet Center so she could give special attention to veterans recovering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (http://www.columbiatribune.com/bdce58b3-b05e-557a-81ee-fbc202b35e62.html). The woman had held previous jobs at H & R Block and in the hotel industry. She noted that she had once thought massage was just about “rubbing bodies” but learned that there were many techniques, each requiring training.

A prospective massage therapist must learn more even than proper technique. The massage therapy curriculum includes a breadth of topics, including human sciences such as anatomy. Fortunately one can get the basics -- and a good deal more -- from an approved Missouri massage therapy school.

Select a Missouri Massage Therapy School Topic:

Missouri Massage Therapy Programs: Basic Standards

Missouri, like most states, stipulates that educational programs be completed through approved providers. Schools can be considered approved if they fall into any of several categories:

  • Certified by the Coordinating Board of Higher Education (CBHE)
  • Approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
  • Accredited as an institution of higher learning by a regional accrediting agency

The Missouri Board of Therapeutic Massage can also accept education approved by equivalent agencies located in other states.

In Missouri, the Department of Higher Education/ Coordinating Board of Higher Education provide oversight for both colleges and private career and vocational schools (http://dhe.mo.gov/public-and-independent-colleges.php).

Programs must provide the following minimum instructional hours:

  • 100 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 300 hours of massage theory practice
  • 50 hours of ancillary therapies
  • 50 hours of other related topics to include ethics, business practice, hygiene, and state law

The Missouri Massage Therapy Education Experience

Missouri begins regulating practice at an early stage: while prospective massage therapists are still students. Schools are responsible for ensuring that student applications are submitted. A student applicant will need to have earned at least a “C” in certain basic coursework. A criminal background check is also completed at the student stage. Student licensees can practice on members of the public when they are under appropriate supervision – an important consideration for anyone working in a student clinic.

Missouri has an interest in the caliber of instructors as well as students. Minimum instructor requirements are set down in state code.

Massage Therapy Training Program and Career Options

Prospective students can select programs based on their career goals – which may or may not include attainment of specialized or advanced certifications. The Missouri licensing agency can accept any of several certification or licensing examinations. Ultimately there are many specialty credentials that a massage therapist can vie for down the line. These can enhance skills and opportunities even if the basic Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is utilized for licensing purposes. A student who seeks to take the MBLEx will not have to meet any additional educational requirements

A student who seeks to take the national board certification examination through the national Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) will need to graduate from an "assigned school". Missouri currently boasts six. All are located in big cities (or in the outlying areas). St. Louis boasts two schools; there is a third located a little further out in Maryland Heights. The NCBTMB also sets a small work experience requirement.

State regulations note that the American Medical Massage Association National Board Certification Examination (AMMA NBCE) can be accepted “as of 2006". There have been changes to the exam since this time; the Missouri Board of Therapeutic Massage can be contacted at (573) 522-6277.

The current Level 1 medical massage certification examination requires 600 hours of education from a state approved school -- just a little higher than that set by Missouri code -- but education must fall into specific categories (http://www.americanmedicalmassage.com/ncerequirements.htm). Body systems coursework requirements go well beyond those mandated in Missouri. Considerable training is required in areas like orthopedic assessment and restorative applications. A clinical practicum is also required.

There’s much more to consider when choosing a program beyond simple approval. A Missouri student can enroll in a program that’s the minimum 500 hours or opt for one as long as 1,000. Students may opt for a general program or one that offers opportunities to specialize in sub-disciplines like rehabilitative massage or energy therapies.

Prospective students may also consider other coursework and related services that will help them get their careers going. The massage therapist featured in the Daily Tribune decided to offer discounts to teachers as well as veterans and members of the military – and to go into business with her own family members. Massage therapists often go into business, either on their own or as part of a group of complementary health practitioners. There are plenty of decisions to be made on the quest to carry out one's vision and create one's lifestyle!

Of course, there are also those practical considerations. A student may complete a basic program in as little as four months or attend part-time over a much longer time period.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Missouri has been projected to see 14.9% growth in massage therapist employment between 2014 and 2024, going from a base of 2,320 to 2,660 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). Missouri massage therapists make a median salary of $15.97 per hour (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home). Those at the 25th percentile earn $9.31 while those at the 75th percentile earn $18.72. Half the state's massage therapists have earnings that fall between these two figures.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported data separately for two major metropolitan areas, both of which border other states. The median wage is $16.17 in the greater St. Louis area, $14.76 in the greater Kansas City area. The St. Louis area trends a little higher at all percentiles, beginning with what might be considered the entry-level. Massage therapists at the 10th percentile earn $8.03 per hour in the Kansas City area, $8.55 in St. Louis. Those at the 75th percentile wage earn $19.96 in Kansas City, $21.15 in St. Louis. The 90th percentile wage, meanwhile, is $30.00 in Kansas City, $33.57 in St. Louis. Figures are based on data from May 2016.

The St. Louis area also has the highest concentration of massage therapists of any reporting Missouri district.

Narrow it Down to a City

Massage Therapy Schools in Kansas City

Massage School in St. Louis