Looking to study massage therapy in Florida? Have a look at our list of massage therapy schools in Florida.
Finally earned your message therapy degree? Congratulations!
Now the next step is to find a job.
Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, you cannot just walk into a clinic and apply right out of school.
Massage therapists in Florida are required to get their massage therapy license before they can practice.
If you are just out of your program or if you are a practicing massage therapist moving from out of state, you will first need to pass the state massage therapy license exam before you can work.
In Florida, there are three main ways you can get your massage therapy license.
The most common path is to pass a Florida State Massage Board-Approved examination, such as the MBLEx, NCETMB, NCETM, or NESL.
The second option is an endorsement and is normally the option for working professionals who already have a license in another state.
The third option is to receive your license through a board-approved training program.
3 Ways Get a Massage Therapy License in Florida
Below is a guide that covers the three most common ways to receive your massage therapy license in Florida.
Type 1: Examination
The first and most common method of acquiring your massage therapy license is to pass the state-certified exam. Every state that requires massage therapist licensure has a state-approved test, and Florida is no different.
In Florida, you must have graduated from a state-approved massage therapy program with a minimum of 500 hours to apply for licensure.
Courses completed in other states can count towards this total, but only if those courses were taken at a program approved by the relevant state board.
The same rules apply to students who attended courses outside of the U.S.
Before 2014, Florida massage therapists could take one of 4 different state-approved exams, though now, the Massage Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) is the only nationally certified exam accepted by the Florida State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB).
Massage Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx)
The MBLEx is a 2-hour computer-administered exam that consists of 100 multiple choice questions from 7 key areas of knowledge.
Tests are graded on a pass/fail system and feedback on performance is given to students who receive a failing score.
The cost of the examination is a non-refundable $195 fee and you must wait 30 days to reapply in the case of a failing grade.
The MBLEx requires takers to answer each question to be answered before moving on to the next one, and you cannot go back and change answers.
The 7 sections covered on the MBLEx are Client assessment, reassessment, and treatment plans, Benefits and Physiological Effects of Techniques, Pathology with Contraindications, Areas of Caution, and Special Populations, Ethics-Boundaries-Laws & Regulations, Guidelines for Professional Practice, Kinesiology, and Anatomy & Physiology.
Each section has approximately 15 questions of varying difficulty.
You must apply through the Florida State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTP) to be eligible to take the MBLEx.
After your application is accepted, you will be sent a payment voucher that you must return before being authorized to take the test.
According to the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB)’s most recent 2018 annual report, a total of 23,373 applicants took the MBLEx between 2017-2018 with an overall pass rate of 67.8%.
The majority of these exams were first attempts (~81%) and the pass rate for first attempts was 73.9% .
Type 2: Endorsement
If you already have your massage therapy license in another state, you will have to apply for an endorsement to verify your credentials and get your license in Florida.
The basic requirements for applying for a license endorsement are the same as applying for the examination; applicants must be at least 18, possess a high school diploma or equivalent degree, and have proof of completion of a 500-hour massage therapy program.
Those applying for endorsement will have to provide proof of their licensure in another state.
You must present the following information:
- Method of licensure (exam, endorsement, etc)
- Record of the exam you took (as of 2014, only the MBLEx is accepted)
- Any disciplinary action
Florida also requires license endorsement applicants to complete a 10-hour continuing education (CE) course covering Florida massage therapy laws and rules.
They will also be required to have their fingerprints taken at a local government office, and submit to a criminal background check.
Type 3: Apprenticeship
Florida is unique among states in that it allows massage therapists to receive their licenses through an approved apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeships normally take about 12 months to complete and apprentices are required to complete 100 hours of study in anatomy and physiology, and 15 hours in Statutes and Rules of Massage Practice within the first quarter of their apprenticeship.
Over the 12 month period, the apprentice must complete a total of 300 hours anatomy/physiology, 20 hours of theory and history of massage, 50 hours of hydrotherapy theory and practice, 5 hours of hygiene, 25 hours of statutes and rules, 50 hours of introduction of allied modalities, 700 hour of practical massage, and 3 hours of board-approved HIV/AIDS instruction.
Sponsoring massage therapists must be engaged in the actual practice of massage therapy for at least three years before the start of the apprenticeship, and operate out of a licensed establishment that meets standards laid down in section 64B7-26 of the Florida Administrative Code.
All three licensure methods have the same basic requirements.
Applicants must be over the age of 18 and have a high school diploma or equivalent degree.
For the examination and endorsement options, applicants must have proof of graduation from a state-approved massage therapy program and at least 500 hours of study.
Apprentices are not required to have completed a state-approved program.
Exam applicants must apply through the FSMTB and pay a non-refundable $195 when their application is accepted.
Mandatory Continuing Education Requirements
All license holders are required to take at least 2 hours of CE in medical error prevention, and 1 hour of general education for each month they have had their license in their first year of licensure.
Every year subsequently, license holders are required to complete 25 hours of CE credits.
CE credits must be taken at a state board-approved institution.
License Verification Requirements
Those applying for license verification must provide proof of completion of a state-approved massage therapy program and proof of obtaining their license.
They must provide all relevant information, including the method of licensure, date of licensure, and any disciplinary action.
All license applicants will be required to submit to a background screening and submit fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law.
Applicants who have a criminal history must provide a self-explanation for their crime, a record of their arrest, final depositions from their cases, and proof of completion of probation/parole/sanctions.
In the state of Florida, some criminal offenses may bar someone from obtaining their license.
Any applicants with prior disciplinary history, have had their license denied before, or have action pending on their license must submit a self-explanation of their situation and agency records regarding the disciplinary action.
Here is a step by step description of the application process by type of license:
- Apply to take the MBLEx through the FSMTB
- Receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) confirmation
- Schedule an exam date at a nearby Pearson VUE testing center within 90 days
- Take the test on the specified date and receive a pass or fail grade
- Request your license info from the relevant state board
- Request transcripts from your massage therapy program
- Request your MBLEx scores
- Send all materials and the application to the FSMTB
- Find a qualified sponsor
- Have your sponsor complete the online Sponsoring Massage Therapist Form and Licensed Establishment Form
- Supply any other information requested by the board
- A certificate to start training will be sent within 7-10 days
Exam: The MBLEx exam costs $195 to take. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee and a $100 licensure fee, coming to a total of $345.
Endorsement: There is a 50$ non-refundable application fee and a $100 licensure fee. Fees from obtaining transcripts of MBLEx scores may also be applicable.
Apprenticeship: $100 non-refundable application fee
All license holders are required to renew their licenses every year by August 31.
Failure to renew will render your license null and void.
Applicants are required to submit proof of completion of the requisite CE credits and a $105 application fee.
If you renew after your license expires, you have to pay a $205 fee.
If you wait too long to renew, you may be required to reapply for your license from scratch.
Florida State Massage Therapy Board
Department of Health
Board of Massage Therapy
4052 Bald Cypress Way Bin C-06
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the massage therapy profession is expected to grow by 26% from 2016-2026, much faster than the national average .
There has never been a better time to become a licensed massage therapist. With this guide, you will be prepared to acquire your license, no matter the method you choose.
- “Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.” Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, 1 Oct. 2018, https://www.fsmtb.org/media/1767/fsmtb-2019-annual-report_092518_final-blank-pages-removed.pdf. Accessed 30 August 2019
- “Massage Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook:” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 June 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-1. Accessed 30 August 2019