There are 14 massage therapy schools in Arkansas. Some of them award certificates to graduates of programs that generally take 10 months to two years to complete.
The instruction consists of coursework and real-world training in massage facilities. This prepares students for exams that state officials require for licensure. Curricula cover human anatomy, physiology, massage methods, business skills, and ethics.
The number of jobs for Arkansas massage therapists is lower than in many other states. However, federal officials project a higher job-growth rate than the national average during the decade ending in 2026. View our selection of top massage therapy schools in other states.
This government agency, a division of the Arkansas Department of Health, regulates massage therapy in the state. It licenses practitioners, and determines whether working professionals and school instructors meet competency standards. The committee fines those who violate laws, rules, and regulations.
Schools must have “adequate space” and pass regular inspections. They are required to provide students with syllabi, and ensure that a certain minimum percentage of graduates pass the licensure exam. The committee establishes strict criteria regarding school curricula.
The eight panel members represent all of the state’s four congressional districts. Six of them are licensed massage therapists. Selection is based on “interest, experience, minority status, area of expertise, and geographical area.”
To become a massage therapist in this state, a student must first obtain a high school diploma or GED. The next step is to enroll in a massage therapy certificate program at an accredited, state-approved school.
The Technical Advisory Committee requires schools to offer 500 hours of coursework and clinical training. This is to include 175 hours of classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and massage contraindications.
Another 225 hours of instruction needs to cover various massage techniques, with 25 hours in each of the following: hydrotherapy, heliotherapy, and electrotherapy; massage-related law, ethics, and business management; and hygiene and infection control. A student may receive additional credit for 50 hours of hands-on experience. Some Arkansas schools are in massage clinics.
A graduate must pass two examinations to qualify for a license from the Department of Health. For most applicants, the first test is the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx). Alternatives are the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB).
The MBLEx application form is available on the FSMTB website. Pearson VUE offers the exam at sites in Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Rogers. Applicants pay a fee of about $200.
Students take the second required test, the Arkansas Law Exam, by scheduling an appointment at the state department’s office in Little Rock. The test measures an applicant’s knowledge of Arkansas statutes and regulations.
The 52-quarter-credit program at this school involves 750 clock hours. Graduates qualify for licenses in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Massage therapy classes are on Blue Cliff’s satellite campus, which features a clinic where students provide treatments to the public. Additional practical experience is available at Fayetteville spas, beauty shops, and private practices.
The nine-month program begins in January, April, July, and October. The curriculum teaches Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, basic Shiatsu, and sports massage.
Program applicants must pass the Wonderlic Scholastic Level exam to be considered for acceptance.
The program at this institute in Russellville consists of 600 clock hours, which can be completed in as little as 20 weeks. Part-time options are also available. There are day and evening classes.
The curriculum consists of 225 hours of Swedish massage coursework and hands-on practice; 275 hours of anatomy and physiology classes; 25 hours of hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, and heliotherapy courses; and 25 hours of instruction in reflexology, deep-tissue massage, infant massage, or aromatherapy.
Enrollment is limited to 24 per class. Applicants must pass a test after reading the “Trail Guide to the Body” textbook.
The average massage therapist in Arkansas makes a salary of about $37,800 (around $18 per hour), a bit less than the national median of about $40,000 a year or $9.30 per hour.
The state’s top 10 percent of earners receive nearly $80,000 in salary or almost $38.50 hourly, better than the national average of about $77,500 or $37.25. The bottom 10 percent make over $19,200 (about $9.25) in Arkansas, compared to over $20,300 and $9.80 nationwide.
The number of positions for massage therapists here will increase from 460 in 2016 to 600 in 2026, with 70 annual job openings, according to projections by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. That would be a growth rate of 29 percent, faster than the national median of 26 percent and much higher than the average profession.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop