Author Topic: New Massage Therapy Laws in California Beginning September 2009  (Read 11335 times)

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New Massage Therapy Laws in California Beginning September 2009
« on: October 25, 2008, 10:57:21 AM »

Please note- Diamond Light students and graduates.
Please log in and visit the board titled California Massage Law and Other Legal Issues
in the DL Alumni section for more detailed information and to ask questions about how the new law will affect you.
Many of your questions are already answered in that section.

In September SB731 was signed into law and beginning in September of 2009 the titles claiming certification in massage (ie: Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Bodywork Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner and Certified  Bodywork Practitioner) will be regulated by a statewide governing organization.
This new law is intended to streamline the certification practice in California as it will allow Massage Therapist to practice all throughout the state with the same certification.

From now until at least September 2009, local laws will still apply as they have in the past.

Beginning September 2009, using the titles Certified Massage Therapist and Certified Massage Practitioner (any combination or inclusion of any of these words) will be state regulated.  It will be considered “unlawful business practice for any person to hold oneself as or use the title of"certified massage therapist" or"certified massage practitioner" or any other term, such as "licensed," "registered," or "CMT," that implies or suggests that the  person is certified as a massage therapist or practitioner without meeting the requirements of the new law”

To use the title "Certified Massage Practitioner" you'll have to obtain certification by the state approved agency the requirements will include 250 hours of training from one state approved school.

To use the title "Certified Massage Therapist" one must have 500 hours of training, 250 of which must be from one state approved school and the other 250 can be from the same school or from another or combination of schools.

Certified Massage Practitioners and Certified Massage Therapists will have the same practical rights and privlidges. The difference is only in which title one uses.

For people who choose not to be certified or use these terms implying certification, local law will still apply. It is  believed that local laws may eventually be eliminated in default to state law.

For people  certified with more than 100 hours but less than 250 hours before 2011, the following options will be available.
1-Anyone certified with more than 100 but less than 250 hours of training that has been practicing professionally for at least 3 years, has a local massage permit or license from a California city or county, and can prove (with tax returns or W2's) that they have completed 1000 massages on the public for compensation can apply for certification without additional hours of training.

2-Anyone certified with more than 100 but less than 250 hours of training that has been practicing professionally for at least 3 years, but doesn't have a local massage permit or license from a California city or county,  but can prove (with tax returns) that they have completed 1750 massages on the public for compensation can apply for certification without additional hours of training.

3-If you do not have 3 years of professional experience with proof of the requisite number of hours of compensated practice, or 250 hours of training but are certified with 150 hours of training you can (until 2012)  apply for "conditional certification" which will allow you to use the title Certified Massage Practitioner while you accumulate 30 hours of additional training per year until you have 250 total hours of training, at which time your conditional certification becomes unconditional (the only condition upon conditional certification is the the certification can be revoked if you fail to complete the necessary 30 additional hours of training per year)

Students who have 250 hours of training by the time the law takes effect will be able to immediately apply for full certification.


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Re: New Massage Therapy Laws in California Beginning September 2009
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2009, 10:11:27 AM »

Here is the latest posting on FAQ's  about  the new California Massage Law from the AMTA Website.
Check out
for more details and updates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)
Regarding SB 731 and the California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC) (Jan 09)

What does the new law do?
It requires the creation of the new California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC-*formerly known as
the MTO or massage therapy organization), which will issue a new, voluntary, state-recognized
massage therapy certification.

What is the difference between this certification and my currentcertificate/license/permit?
Local certificates/licenses/permits currently allow massage therapists to practice only in the city or
county that issues them. A CMTC-issued certificate will permit you to practice anywhere in the state
without getting a separate permit for each locale.

What is the difference between a Certification and a License?
What is the difference between a certification and a license?
A license is created by a kind of law called a “practice act”, and only those who hold the license
can practice. A certification, like this one, is created by a “title act”, and it only governs the titles
that can be used. So, under this law, anyone who is practicing legally under local laws will be able to
continue to practice, but only those who get the certification will be able to use the title Certified
Massage Therapist or Certified Massage Practitioner.

What is the difference between this certification and state certification?
Under state certification, the state itself (that is, the California state government) would issue
certificates. Under this law, a non-governmental non-profit agency, the CMTC, will issue certificates,
and the government of California will recognize those certificates as legally legitimate.

Do I have to get this new certificate?
No. Certification under the CMTC is voluntary.

Will I still have to get a city permit?
If you do not get CMTC certified, then yes, you will still be subject to local ordinances, as you are
If you do get CMTC certified, no, you will not also need a local permit. You will, however, have to
follow all other general business requirements that apply to all similar local businesses, i.e., obtaining a
business license, following zoning, health and safety ordinances, etc.

Will I still need to get a business license?
If you own your own business, yes. A CMTC-issued certificate will give you permission to practice
anywhere, but it does not replace your business license. If you are simply an employee of another
person’s business, then you do not need a business license.

Can I still call myself a Certified Massage Therapist or Certified Massage

In the State of California, as of September 1, 2009, when the first certificates are issued, only those
who hold the state-recognized certifications issued by the CMTC will be able to legally call
themselves Certified Massage Practitioner or Certified Massage Therapist.

What will be fee for this certificate be?
The CMTC is working toward offering certifications at a fee that would be comparable to the
average of fees currently charged at a local level. That being said, the CMTC will be a non-profit
entity and will charge what it costs to issue the Certificate. Those costs per Certificate are not yet

How often will it have to be renewed?
Every two years, likely by mail, if there are no extenuating circumstances.

When does it start/when can I apply?
The California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC) plans to begin accepting applications in July or
August of 2009. No certificates can be issued until September 1, 2009. The turnaround time to
receive a certificate is unknown at this time. The details of the process are being created in a series
of meetings by the CMTC board.

Do I have to take the National Certification Exam to get CMTC certified?
The test or tests that will be accepted by the CMTC for the certification process have not been
determined yet. It is the intention of the creators of SB 731 and the CMTC to be as inclusive as
possible, though the logistics of administering a test may affect the ability to be inclusive of multiple
test formats.

What are the requirements for getting CMTC certified?
• Massage Practitioner
– 250 hrs of training at one approved school (*see below regarding approved schools)
– No new Massage Practitioner certificates issued after 5 years (after 2014)
– After that tier is phased out, Practitioner certificate still valid for practice as long as they
are kept current (may be additional education requirements at some point to bring it to
the MT level)
• Massage Therapist
– Education (must have A, B, or C)
A. 500 hours of training
• At least 250 at one approved school
• Remaining 250 from registered or approved schools or approved CEU
• After 5 years (2014), all 500 hours must be obtained from approved
B. Or must have passed approved exam
C. Or have Registration, Certification, or License from state with greater or equal
• Both levels
– Renewal every 2 years
– Fingerprinting
• Grandfathering as Massage Practitioner
1. Option 1 (A,B, AND C required)
A. Valid massage permit or license from CA city or county
B. 100 hrs training at registered or approved school
C. Practicing at least 3 yrs and 1000 paid massages
2. Option 2 (A and B required)
A. 100 hrs training (but no local permit or license)
B. Practicing at least 3 yrs and 1750 paid massages
3. Conditional Permit (only offered for 2 yrs until 2011)
A. 100 hrs training, but less experience than above
B. Must obtain at least 30 CEUs each year for 5 yrs until they have at least 250 hrs

How long will the 250-hr grandfathering be available?
Grandfathering will be available until 2013

Why would I want this new certification?
Among other reasons:
- It will be portable. If you get a new job in a new location, you will not have to apply for new local
certifications/permits/licenses if you have a CMTC-issued certificate.
- You will only have to renew every two years, rather than annually, as in many local jurisdictions.
- A single standard gives our profession more credibility with the public. Consumers will learn that
they can depend on CMTC-certified practitioners having certain qualifications.
- Insurance companies may someday reimburse for massage therapy if they can be sure the
therapist is competent. A single, statewide standard certification will give them a clear, simple way
to check the therapist’s qualifications.
- Some cities may amend their local ordinances to require CMTC-issued certification, because it will
streamline local bureaucracy and law enforcement.

Will the state-recognized CMTC-issued certification be recognized in other

That is yet to be determined, and will be up to each state.

What if I want some aspects of the law to be changed?
The Business & Professions Committee will introduce what is called "a committee bill" with
language to clear up some of the ambiguities in the law this year - as yet to be determined.
Often laws such as this are changed as often as annually. If you would like to see changes to
the bill, your best option is to get involved politically. Once the CMTC is up and running,
contact them - but even better is to work with the AMTA-CA Governmental relations
Committee and the "Adopt-a-Legislator" program.
If you have further questions you can email the AMTA CA chapter at


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Re: New Massage Therapy Laws in California Beginning September 2009
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2009, 02:26:51 PM »

1- As of September of 2009 you will no longer be able to use  any of the following words in describing your work - Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner, Certified Bodyworker, or the letters CMT or CMP - unless you become certified through the CAMTC.
If you have these titles on your business cards, advertising, website or brochures, you will either have to become certified through the CAMTC or change the wording on your literature. 
The Certificate you received from the school will no longer entitle you to use these titles, but will only verify that you have completed the number of hours of training on the certificate

2- If you choose not to use these titles, you can still continue to practice as you have been without getting this new certification from the CAMTC, if you meet the requirements of your local city or municipality.
Its unsure at this point how much local law will change as a result of the new statewide law.
Right now it seems some cities will continue issue permits and business licenses as they have been without any change in requirements,  and some cities will change their requirements to include Certification as a Massage Therapist or Practitioner.
Contact your local town hall to find out the requirements to practice massage.
Again please remember that complying with local law without the new certification will allow you to practice massage legally, but will not allow you to use the protected titles.
Exactly which titles are off limits to non certified practitioners is still being clarified.

3- The CAMTC will be accepting applications for those wishing to get certified beginning in August.
The process for applying for certification will be listed on their website

4- The requirements for certification include 250 hours of education from an approved school.
Diamond Light is an approved school and our 250 hour program meet the curriculum requirements for certification.
You will need new sealed transcripts to document these requirements.
You can order a transcript on our website
Click on Graduates and Professionals in the left menu and then on transcripts and it will be obvious.
 Mention when you order your transcript that it is for certification.

5- The requirements for certification are mentioned elsewhere on this board but I'll summarize them again here

For Certification as a Massage Therapist you much have one of the following-
a- 500 hours of training- 250 of which must be from the same approved school.
b- Have passed the NCBTMB Exam or the MBLEX Exam
c- Have received certification from another state with equal or higher training requirements

For Certification as a Massage Practitioner you must have one of the following-
a- 250 hrs of training at one approved school
b-  A valid massage permit or license from CA city or county,  100 hrs training at a registered or approved school and have been practicing at least 3 yrs and 1000 paid massages (documented with tax returns)
c-  100 hrs training (but no local permit or license) and practicing at least 3 yrs and 1750 paid massages.

Conditional Certification as a Massage Practitioner
If you do not meet the above requirements you can apply for conditional Certification as a Massage Practitioner if you have at least 100 hrs training at a registered or approved school.
Conditional Certification allows you to use the title Certified Massage Practitioner with the conditional that you receive and document at least 30 hours per year of additional education from an approved school.

You can only apply for conditional certification until 2011, at which point this option wil be discontinued.

Some links for further info about the new law are (click on State Legislation)


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Re: New Massage Therapy Laws in California Beginning September 2009-update!
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2009, 08:25:31 AM »

The latest from the ABMP below

"I had hoped to be in a position this week to inform you that statewide certification as a Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) or a Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP) would be fully ready on September 1. I still anticipate that will be the case sometime in mid-September, at which time ABMP will send by regular mail to all California practicing massage members a formal announcement, an application form, and accompanying instructions.

What is available at this time is about two-thirds of a loaf for those of you who desire to get started on the process. You may link to and click on "Application for Certification," which will permit you to download an application form and instructions. You then will be able to fill out the form, arrange for your massage school(s) to send in official copies of your transcripts, gather other supporting documents, and transmit that material to the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) along with payment.
What is missing at this point is the Live Scan fingerprinting process, which will provide the basis for a criminal background check, a helpful safeguard to distinguish you from others trying to pose as massage therapists. In charge of Live Scan procedures is the California Department of Justice (DOJ). CAMTC staff filed a preliminary application with DOJ on April 29. CAMTC filed the final required information with DOJ on July 21. On August 21 DOJ suddenly determined that it needs to make a computer programming change to accommodate CAMTC processing requirements. DOJ now says the "earliest" possible date to activate Live Scan will be September 8, with no guarantee it won't take longer. When all systems are go, ABMP will post that fact on

Cautions ... and a Request for Patience
The application form and supporting documentation requests are thorough, necessarily so. As you are painfully aware, for decades certain individuals offering other personal services have tried to pose as massage therapists. Cities and counties adopted restrictive massage therapy regulations, thinking that would curb prostitution. Having secured back an opportunity to regulate our own profession, it is important that CAMTC certification requirements and disciplinary processes be thorough so that we earn the trust of local government officials.

Most cities appear ready to give CAMTC an opportunity to be successful. A few cities have indicated they may resist the new CAMTC massage therapy regulations and instead try to apply local ordinances to all therapists practicing within their boundaries. Both ABMP and CAMTC disagree with those cities' legal positions and have pledged to work to alter the stance those cities are now taking. As we become aware of a city taking such a position, we will notify ABMP members residing in that jurisdiction. A few other cities, notably Santa Monica, are intending to accept pre-emption, but are making noises about requiring everyone to have CAMTC certification in place by September 1, 2009—a physical impossibility even if DOJ was not behind schedule. CAMTC will attempt to reason with Santa Monica officials, but can make no promises of success.

In closing, I ask you to be patient with CAMTC staff these coming months. Certification criteria and procedures are still being refined. Every CAMTC staff member processing applications is a rookie, because the organization is just getting started. None of us know whether initial application flow will be a trickle or a rush of many thousands at once. If interest is high, it may take weeks to catch up. My advice: if statewide CAMTC certification is appealing to you, initiate the application process at least a couple months in advance of the expiration of your current local government permit or license.

To learn more about CAMTC certification, please visit If after exploring that website, including the Frequently Asked Questions section, you require additional information, you can talk to a CAMTC staff member at (916) 669-5336."