On this page:
Massage therapy means the manipulation of soft tissue by hand or through a mechanical or electrical apparatus for the purpose of body massage. The term includes effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and Swedish gymnastics. Massage therapy may include the use of oil, lubricant, salt glows, heat lamps, hot and cold packs, or tub, shower, jacuzzi, sauna, steam or cabinet baths. Massage therapy is a health care service when the massage is for therapeutic purposes, and a licensed massage therapist may receive referrals from a physician to administer massage therapy.
Sign Up for Email Updates
Sign up to receive important notices about changes to rules, statutes, fees, examination requirements, upcoming meetings and more. Email updates are the best way for you to stay informed.
News and Updates
TDLR Health Monitor - September 2019 Edition
September 26, 2019
Articles in this September 2019 edition of The Health Monitor include updates on:
- Dyslexia Awareness Month
- Podiatry Rule Amendments Adopted
- New Criminal Conviction Guidelines & Penalty Matrix
- Deregulation of Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians
- Prescription Monitoring Program Requirements
- Fingerprinting Requirements for Podiatrists
- Midwives Educational Summit Recap
- Orthotic and Prosthetic Professional Organizations Merge
The TDLR Health Monitor is a quarterly newsletter that provides news and information about TDLR’s medical and health-related programs. Archives of past editions of the TDLR Health Monitor can be viewed here.
Online Renewal for Massage Therapists and Instructors
September 9, 2019
Starting September 9, 2019, TDLR massage therapist or massage therapy instructors can sign up for a Texas.gov account for license renewal. Once linked to an account, the new Texbadge service is a fast, easy, and fully mobile-optimized way to renew.
New Fingerprint Requirements
September 4, 2019
As of September 1, 2019, people who are applying for an initial massage therapist, massage instructor or massage establishment license or who are renewing their massage therapist, massage instructor or massage establishment license must submit fingerprints that will be used to obtain the applicant’s criminal conviction history. Under House Bill 1865 (86th Texas Legislature), all licensees must comply with the fingerprint requirement no later than September 1, 2021.
TDLR Adopts Revised Enforcement Plan
August 13, 2019
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) provides this public notice that at their regularly scheduled meeting held July 15, 2019, the Commission adopted the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s (Department) revised enforcement plan which was established in compliance with Texas Occupations Code, §51.302(c).
The enforcement plan gives all license holders notice of the specific ranges of penalties and license sanctions that apply to specific alleged violations of the statutes and rules enforced by the Department. The enforcement plan also presents the criteria that are considered by the Department’s Enforcement staff in determining the amount of a proposed administrative penalty or the magnitude of a proposed sanction. The enforcement plan is revised to include the penalty matrix for the Massage Therapy program.
The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), 84th Legislature, Regular Session (2015), which transferred regulatory authority of 13 programs, to include Massage Therapy from the Texas Department of State Health Services to the Commission and Department. The Massage Therapy penalty matrix provides for a single range of penalties for each class to eliminate confusion and allow the industry to fully understand the penalties assessed. The penalty matrix describes the specific ranges of penalties and license sanctions that apply to specific violations of the statutes and rules enforced by the Department. This penalty matrix may differ slightly from others as the agency focuses on aligning strategic plan goals with agency resources.
The Massage Therapy Advisory Board recommended approval of the penalty matrix at their meeting held June 11, 2019. The penalty matrix was presented to the Commission on July 15, 2019 and was adopted as recommended.
Conviction Guidelines for Massage Therapy Program
October 31, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted changes to TDLR’s Conviction Guidelines (guidelines) to include the Massage Therapy program.
The guidelines describe how TDLR determines whether a criminal conviction makes an applicant unsuitable for a license, or whether a conviction warrants revocation or suspension of a license previously granted. The guidelines present the general factors that are considered in all cases and the reasons why particular crimes are considered to relate to each type of license issued by TDLR.
TDLR presented the applicable guidelines to the Massage Therapy Advisory Board at its meeting on July 17, 2018 and received the Board’s recommendation of approval. The Commission adopted the amendments to the guidelines at its meeting on September 25, 2018, pursuant to Texas Occupations Code §53.025(a).
Adoption of Repeal of Duplicate Administrative Rules
April 20, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the repeal of inactive rules regarding the Massage Therapists program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55).
The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site.
Adopted Administrative Rules
April 20, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to existing rules regarding the Massage Therapy program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 117, Subchapter A, §117.2; Subchapter C, §117.20; Subchapter E, §117.40; Subchapter F, §§117.50, 117.60, and 117.62; Subchapter G, §117.80 and §117.82; Subchapter J, §117.111; and new rules Subchapter B §§117.10 - 117.14).
The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site and the adopted rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of May 1, 2018.
MBLEx Exam Changes Effective July 1, 2018
April 11, 2018
The content of the massage therapist licensing exam is changing. The primary change, effective July 1, 2018, is that applicants will no longer be tested on the history and culture of the profession. A full list of all upcoming changes to the exam content is available on the FSMTB Exam Content page. There are no changes to the testing process.
Proposed Repeal of Duplicate Massage Therapy Administrative Rules
February 2, 2018
The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), 84th Legislature, Regular Session (2015), which transferred regulation of the Massage Therapy program from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). To complete the implementation of S.B. 202, TDLR transferred the previous Massage Therapy program rules from Title 25, Chapter 140, Subchapter H to Title 16, Chapter 147. TDLR is now proposing the repeal of the transferred rules located at Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55. The rules proposed for repeal are obsolete.
On August 18, 2017, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted its own set of rules for the Massage Therapy program located at 16 TAC, Chapter 117. The Commission’s rules were effective November 1, 2017, (42 TexReg 4991).
This proposed repeal does NOT affect the current Massage Therapy program rules which were adopted by the Commission on August 18, 2017, located at Title 16, Chapter 117.
TDLR will accept comments on the proposal until March 5, 2018. Comments may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notice for All Schools and Educational Programs Licensed by TDLR
September 1, 2017
As of September 1, 2017, House Bill 1508 requires that all entities providing educational or instructional programs that prepare a student for an occupation or vocation requiring a TDLR license to:
- Inform the student or program participant that eligibility for a TDLR license could be affected by the person’s criminal history;
- Notify students and participants that TDLR is responsible for having in place guidelines regarding a license applicant's criminal history, and to include information on an applicant's ability to be licensed under those guidelines;
- Provide students with information on other state or local restrictions that would affect the student’s eligibility for an occupational license issued by TDLR;
- Inform students of the student's right to request a criminal history evaluation letter from TDLR;
- Provide all persons who enroll in their program with notice of the requirements as described above, regardless of whether or not the person has been convicted of a criminal offense.
An educational entity or training program operator who fails to provide this information to a person who is enrolled in their course may be liable for tuition or application fees paid by any student who is denied a TDLR license due to the existence of a criminal conviction.
Advisory Board Meetings
Next Meeting - November 19, 2019
The next Massage Therapy Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the 1st Floor Public Meeting Room of TDLR's North Campus located at 1106 Clayton Lane, Suite 125E, in Austin. When the agenda and staff reports are available, they will be posted online. The meeting will be broadcast live on TDLR's YouTube channel.
August 29, 2019 Meeting
Transition from DSHS to TDLR
1. When did the transfer happen?
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) assumed all activities relating to the Massage Therapy program including licenses and renewals, customer service and enforcement on November 1, 2017.
2. Now that the transfer is complete, will I need to get a new license issued by TDLR?
No. The license you have now, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), remains valid until its expiration date. When you renew, you will receive a TDLR license.
3. Have the rules changed?
Yes, TDLR adopted rules for all of the transferred programs. Most of the newly adopted rules are very similar, but some changes have been made. The TDLR health profession rules became effective on November 1, 2017.
4. What is going to happen with open complaints and cases?
If you filed a complaint with DSHS or had a complaint filed against your license and it was not resolved by the transfer date, TDLR assumed responsibility for the case. You should have already received notification by mail that your complaint was transferred to TDLR.
5. How do I stay informed about changes impacting me?
You have several options to stay connected:
- Email updates - Sign up for email updates to receive notices about rules, the law, fees, examination requirements, meetings and more. Email updates are the best way for you to stay informed.
- Meetings - TDLR’s advisory board and Commission meetings are available to watch online live or later at your convenience.
- Facebook and Twitter - TDLR has a Facebook page and Twitter account dedicated to TDLR Health Professions.
6. Why was my license expiration date extended? Will I have the same expiration date in the future?
To ease the transition, DSHS extended the expiration date by two months for licenses previously set to expire in September, and October, and November 2017. For example, if your original expiration date was September 30, your new expiration date is November 30. If your license was extended, you will continue to renew your license in the new expiration month in the future. Licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS.
7. Will I have to renew on a different schedule?
You will renew on the same schedule unless your license expired in August, September or October 2016. Licenses expiring in those months were extended for two months to ease the transition from DSHS to TDLR. In addition, licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS. If your license was extended, you will now renew in your new expiration month for future renewals. Your license expiration date will not return to your original expiration month.
8. Why were licensing programs transferred from DSHS to TDLR?
The transfer is the result of a change to Texas law. In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 202, which authorized the transfer of thirteen licensing programs from the DSHS to TDLR.