National Certificants: Discovering Your Pathway to Board Certification Webinar Recap

Thank you to all who joined us for yet another successful webinar! This particular webinar focused on how National Certificants conveniently transition into Board Certification.

Hosted by Board Chair, Dr. Leena S. Guptha, and VP of Educational Support, Donna Sarvello, this one-hour webinar highlighted key details on the history of National Certification, the retirement of National Certification, importance of Board Certification, requirements to transition into Board Certification, and Live Q&A.

For more information on how to transition into Board Certification, please click here to watch a short, informative video on how to complete your application. You are also welcome to contact us with questions at 1-800-296-0664, email, or Live Chat us on the website.


Questions and Answers:

Kathy: What is the correct terminology for massage therapy continuing education; CE or CEU?

A: When speaking about massage therapy continuing education, the correct terminology is CE hours. CEU's refer to continuing education units. These break down into anywhere from 8 - 10 hours to 1 CE unit.


Patricia: How do we submit research hours for CE credits if we attend a conference or write an article?

A: You will have to submit information from the conference that you attended. When writing an article, you can submit information about where the article was published.


Margaret: Does the board have record of CEs submitted for original certification and all subsequent CE's required to remain certified, or will I be required to resubmit everything?

A: First, keep in mind that NCBTMB's past applications only required the certificant to list their CEs. We will ask to see them this time around. You only have to submit the difference between your school hours and the 750 hour requirement. You will not need to submit all of your CEs. If you have a degree from an accredited college, you can submit your massage school documents and a copy of the diploma from your other degree. Even if you haven't completed a degree from an accredited college or university, you can submit transcripts showing the classes that you have completed.


Donald: Does the education I provide need to include that I already submitted to become certified in the first place? Is that already on file with NCBTMB?

A: NCBTMB does have some historical data. To find out if we have yours, please email


Teresa: Should I wait until my NCBTMB certification is due in Dec 2016 to convert to Board Certification? 

A: Everyone can transition 1 year prior to your expiration date. You will need your username and password, so please email and request these (if you have forgotten them) before you begin.


Kelly: Can you please give an example of how I would gain CE's in self care?

A: There are several courses titled Self-Care in the NCBTMB data base. Go to and click "Find and Approved Provider" on the left hand side of the page. When you get to the next page, find the "Category" drop down and click Self-Care.  Keep in mind that Self-Care is not a requirement, rather we will only accept 4 CEs in this category.


Karen: If I already have my National Certification and expires in Oct '15 do I have to provide my previous tests and hours from school to transition to board certification?

A: You will never have to submit test results; we already have those on file. You may be asked to submit transcripts or proof of graduation from the program if we no longer have the information.


Betty: Do you need a sealed transcript from the massage school and or a university as proof of hours?

A: Sealed transcripts are the preference; however, for personal help, please email


Elzbieta: Is the Board Certification renewal period 2 year or 4 years now?

A: After you've transitioned into Board Certification, the new renewal period is 24 CEs every 2 years, as well as 100 hours of work experience.


Kelly: If we take any CE before we become Board Certified, will those credits count towards our 24 credits we need to renew every 2 years?

A: No. In order for CEs to count for any credential, you must already have earned the credential. This stands true for your state license, as well.


Mary: Research, does this include speaking to organizations about our profession?

A: No. However, if you are researching massage therapy associated to some other profession, and are performing and evaluating actual research, which would count. If anyone is planning on conducting and actual research project, I would highly recommend taking the Massage Therapy Foundation's research course prior. This will help you understand the steps that need to be taken to perform an accurate project.


Carol: Can I submit college credits that were taken before I became a massage therapist or do the courses need to be taken after I completed my massage school?

A: Yes; you can submit your previous course, as well.


Melissa: What will our new title be? (We used to be NCTMB.)

A: BCTMB (Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork).


Cathy: How does transition to board certification effect the continuing education requirements? If I transition before my current certification expires, do I still have to meet CE requirements?

A: No. You just need to meet the requirements of 750 hours of education, 250 hours of professional hands-on work experience and CPR certification.


Stacey: Is continuing education included in the 750 hours of education?

A: Yes, if needed to reach the requirement.


Kate: Do the college courses have to be under a massage therapy continuing education curriculum?

A: Not necessarily. The Board of Directors believes that all education helps a person grow mentally, emotionally and intellectually. We will take other courses also.


Jennifer: How do we prove our work hours for the initial certification and for the renewal? 

A: You can have your employer write a letter, or if you are an independent contractor and work for yourself, you can write a letter describing your work experience.


Maureen: Once I get board certification in 2015, can I start earning CEU's for the 2018 renewal?

A: Generally speaking, if you become Board Certified in 2015, your next renewal date will be in 2017. Board Certification has a two-year renewal period. To find out your exact expiration date, we encourage you to call us at 1-800-296-0664 or email, and we would be happy to look up your account. You can start gaining CE hours as soon as you are certified.


Symone: Will awareness of human trafficking be available as CE courses?

A: The Board of Directors will be discussing this in the near future. We will let the profession know when the decision is made.


Shari: I'm licensed in Nevada which requires a criminal background check & wonder if that license renewal would solve your compliance requirement.

A: NCBTMB performs its own criminal background check on all of its certificants each time they renew. The reason for this is that when someone becomes a massage therapist, their record may be clear. As he/she continues to work, however, something may happen. We want to ensure that all of our Board Certified therapists maintain a clear record.


Pamela: With regard to the 100 hours of work experience, it can be EITHER hands on work, volunteering, teaching OR administration?

A: Yes.


Kiera: Just to clarify, if you have done 1000+ as many NYS LMT"s have done, and you have already been certified via NCBTMB and are currently certified, what exactly will you need? I am a NCBMTB certified and also NCBTMB approved provider. When my certification expires in 2016 what will I need to submit aside from CE hours?

A: You will not need to submit any CE. You will just need to submit proof of graduation from your school. Also, feel free to contact us at to see if we have a copy of your transcripts in our historical data.


Jennifer: What if I'm not working as a massage therapist right now?

A: The 250 hours of work experience can be counted from the day that you began practicing legally. Many people began practicing massage therapy before licensure was mandated within their state. The hours of practice prior to licensure also count because people were practicing within their state law.


Cynthia: Will an on-line course in CPR fill the requirement if it's through one of the nationally certified organizations?

A: As long as you've taken CPR previously, preferably a couple of times.


Larry: Do we need to re-document CEs that were used for renewal or do we just need to document those hours needed to get to 750 hours?

A: You only need to submit CEs that will bring your total education to 750 hours.


Joanne: When I graduated, my school was certified.  I'm not certain when it happened, but my school is no longer certified.  What happens if my school wasn't certified during 2013?

A: If your school was in good standing, and closed prior to 2012, we will accept your education; however, if your school was denied or revoked, you may have to submit additional education. We recognize that several schools have closed over the past years.


Stephen: Why is it that NCBTMB does not keep our records?

A: We do keep records. In 2007, NCBTMB did move from VA to IL. During that time, several records were destroyed and/or lost in the process. We now keep electronic files.


Zerrie: How much is the exam if we have to retake it?

A: The exam is $250 each time a person applies to take it.


Michele: Do you have to take self care CE's?

A: No. There is no minimum requirement to take Self-Care. NCBTMB will only accept 4 hours of Self-Care each time a certificant renews their certification.


Angelica: I have my NCBTMB since 2004, and what is my next steps?

A: You can gather your documentation and transition into Board Certification. You can begin by logging into your NCBTMB account and filling out the Transition into Board Certification Application. Upload all necessary documentation to the Board Certification Document Upload Form. Submit both forms and submit payment for your transition to be processed.


Lacey: My National Certification expires in June. If I transition into Board Certification before then, will I still be required to renew my Board Certification in June? Or does my 2 year Board Certification period begin when I transition?

A: You expiration date will remain the same month and day if you renew early.


Melissa: I have a BS in Health Education from a while ago (1994). Do you think I'll be able to pull from that to complete my 750 hours? I graduated Ron massage school in 2000 and I've had my own practice for 6 years.

A: Yes, we will accept you BS degree as the additional hours needed to meet the 750 hour requirement.


Cindy: I moved from the state i was certified in and the state I live in currently does not accept National Certification. Will the Board Certification be accepted?

A: You will have to check with the state you are moving to for their minimal requirements to practice legally within the state.


Linda: If one has been certified for 20 years are they still required to submit proof of graduation from a Massage Therapy school or would the NCBTMB already have that information in the certificant's file?

A: If you were certified in the early 1990's, please contact us at We will work with you.


John: How much of the 100 hours can consist of teaching hours?

A: After you've transitioned into Board Certification and are renewing for a second time, all of your 100 hours can consist of teaching.


Carly: Is there any restriction of the quantity of online hours within that 750 hour total?

A: No. As long as you've graduated from an NCBTMB Assigned School, you can take the additional hours online.


Joe: Is there a time limit on college credit towards certification?

A: No. As long as you've graduated from an NCBTMB Assigned School, all of the additional hours may come from college credits.


Erica: My certification is up for renewal at the end of this month. I will be transitioning to board certification, so I need only follow the requirements for board certification correct?

A: Yes, make sure to email to request your user name and password. Then watch the video on how to transition into Board Certification. Contact us if you need assistance.


Maureen: I just want to applaud you for your strong stance against human trafficking.  What specifically are you doing in this area?

A: Thank you. This is a difficult topic to speak and hear about. NCBTMB does not expect its certificants to get involved, rather, we want you to be aware so that together we can protect our therapists, families and the public. If you would like more information on this subject please visit the Polaris Project website.


We hope to see you at our next webinar!

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