Massage Therapy Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Fees

1. What are the licensing fees?

Massage Therapists

  • Initial application fee (two-year license)--$100
  • Renewal fee (two-year license)--$75

Massage Establishments

  • Initial application fee for massage establishments at a massage school primary instructional location or approved additional location (two-year license)--$100
  • Initial application fee for all other massage establishments (two-year license)--$200
  • Renewal fee for massage establishments at a massage school primary instructional location or approved additional location (two-year license)--$100
  • Renewal fee for all other massage establishments (two-year license)--$200

Massage Schools

  • Initial application fee for schools offering the massage therapy educational program (includes inspection)--$1,500
  • Initial application fee for an additional school location separate from the main campus (includes inspection)--$500
  • Renewal fee for schools offering the massage therapy educational program (for a two-year period)--$1,000
  • Renewal fee for an additional school location separate from the main campus--$500
  • Change of instructional address for main campus (includes inspections)--$300

Massage Therapy Instructors

  • Initial application fee for instructors (two-year license)--$100
  • Renewal fee for instructors (two-year license)--$100

Continuing Education Providers

  • Initial application fee for approved providers for continuing education (for a two-year period)--$200
  • Renewal fee for approved providers for continuing education (for a two-year period)--$200

Registration duplicate/replacement fee--$25

All fees paid to TDLR are nonrefundable.

2. What are the fees to renew late?

A person paying a late renewal fee does not pay the regular renewal fee in addition to the late renewal fee.

Licensing

1. I first enrolled in massage school before September 1, 2007. Can I apply for a massage therapist license with my 300 hour transcript?

Yes, if your 300 hour supervised course of instruction included:

(A) 125 hours of Swedish massage therapy techniques;
(B) 50 hours of anatomy;
(C) 25 hours of physiology;
(D) 15 hours of hydrotherapy;
(E) 15 hours of business practices and professional ethics;
(F) 20 hours of health and hygiene; and
(G) a 50 hour internship;

Anyone who enrolled in massage school for the first time on or after September 1, 2007 must meet the current 500 hour minimum requirement.

2. May I use continuing education classes to earn the 500 hours required for licensure?

No. All 500 hours must be submitted on a transcript, either from a massage school, university, college, or other appropriately accredited training program (for example,  chiropractic).

3. May I complete the academic portion of the 500 hours through an online massage school and only do the 50 hours of internship at a Texas school?

No. Online schools are not accepted for initial licensure.

4. I am moving to Texas from another state where I hold a license to practice massage therapy. Can I transfer my license? Is there reciprocity? How do I get a Texas license?

Please see our Out of State Applicants FAQs.

5. Can I work in Texas with just my national certification from National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)?

No. You need a Texas license to advertise or practice massage therapy.

6. Why do I need a Texas license as a massage therapist if I have a national license?

Your national certification from NCBTMB is a voluntary certification, not a license. Licenses are issued by government entities and provide licensed professionals with specific authority to use a protected title and/or perform specific services. In Texas, a state license is required to advertise or practice massage therapy.

7. Do I have to take the Texas state exam to get a license?

No. Texas accepts national examinations. All applicants who have satisfactorily completed massage therapy studies in an accepted course of instruction (unless the applicant is currently licensed in another state and has already passed an acceptable examination) must pass an examination administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Examination fees, locations of test sites, and information on disability accommodations are available through the FSMTB the web site.

8. I recently applied for a license and was told my license was issued. Can I work now, or do I have to wait until I get my license in the mail?

You may print an online license verification and start working while you wait for your wall certificate and card to arrive by mail.

9. Will my criminal history make me ineligible for licensure?

Please see Sec. 455.152. Ineligibility for Licensure for types of criminal history that make a person ineligible to hold a license (license denied/revoked). There are also other convictions that might make a person ineligible. You may wish to request a Criminal History Evaluation Letter.

Out of State Applicants

1. How do I transfer my license from another state?

You cannot “transfer” your license but your education and/or experience in another state may qualify you for a Texas license.; you must submit the application form, fee, and all required items to receive a Texas license.

2. Is there a separate application for out of state applicants?

No. All applicants complete the same form (online, or printed from our website and mailed). If you are licensed in another state, we will verify that your license is current and in good standing.

3. Do I have to live in Texas to apply for a license?

No.

4. How do I know if the classes I have taken at an out of state massage school will count towards licensure?

You will need to apply for licensure as a massage therapist in Texas to find out if we will accept your out-of-state school. Make sure to include the following items with your application:

  • an official transcript;
  • course descriptions for the classes you wish us to consider for credit;
  • proof that the school is currently acceptable for licensure in the state in which it is located (if available).

If we accept your transcript, but you have not completed sufficient hours in all subjects required for licensure in Texas, we will send you a Request for Information (RFI) showing the exact hours you lack, which you can then take to a Texas massage school to enroll as a transfer student and take only the hours you need for licensure. You have one year from the date we received your application to take the additional hours and send us the transcript to complete your application.

Please note that at this time, online schools are not acceptable for licensure in Texas.

5. What if I completed massage school in another country? Will you accept a foreign transcript for licensure?

We accept foreign transcripts only if they have been translated into English and evaluated for U.S. equivalency. Contact your local university or community college for a list of reputable foreign transcript evaluators. You will submit the original, the translation, and the evaluation to us when you apply.

6. I am moving to Texas from another state where I hold a license to practice massage therapy. Can I transfer my license? Is there reciprocity? How do I get a Texas license?

Please see the Forms page or apply online. The application on the Forms page includes instructions for applicants who are licensed in another state (at the end of the packet).

7. Can I work in Texas with just my national certification from National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)?

No. You need a Texas license to advertise or practice massage therapy.

8. Why do I need a Texas license as a massage therapist if I have a national license?

Your national certification from NCBTMB is a voluntary certification, and not a license. Licenses are issued by government entities and provide licensed professionals with specific authority (e.g. use of a protected title and/or a specific scope of practice). In Texas, a state license is required to advertise or practice massage therapy.

9. Will you accept my national or state exam score from another state? I do not want to retest.

We can accept a national exam score that is more than two years old, or a licensing examination taken in another state, ONLY if you have a current state license in good standing. You will need to submit a score report showing the date you took and passed the exam.

Renewal

1. May I renew my license online?

Licensed Massage Therapists, Massage Therapy Establishments, and Massage Instructors may renew online. Massage therapy education programs and Continuing Education (CE) Providers must submit the renewal form and fee by mail.

2. Do I need to complete continuing education in order to renew my license?

Massage therapist must complete 12 contact hours of continuing education for each two-year lciense renewal. No continuing education is required for massage therapy instructor or continuing education provider renewal.

Continuing Education (CE)

1. How many hours do I need to complete for each renewal?

You must complete 12 hours of continuing education for each two year renewal.

2. Do I need to complete another 12 hours of continuing education for my instructor's license?

No. Continuing education is not required for renewal of that license. However, your massage therapist license must be current in order for you to renew your instructor's license.

3. May I submit the coursework I am interested in taking for continuing education so that department can approve it in advance?

No. We do not pre-approve CE programs. Please consult the rules to determine whether or not the program is acceptable. If the sponsor, content, and certificate are acceptable, then you may use that program as continuing education for the purpose of license renewal.

4. How does a massage therapist report continuing education to the TDLR?

TDLR uses an audit system for continuing education reporting. Each licensed massage therapist is responsible for maintaining a record of his or her continuing education experiences. The certificates, diplomas, or other documentation verifying continuing education hours should not be forwarded to TDLR at the time of renewal unless the licensee has been selected for audit. If selected for an audit, the licensee shall submit copies of certificates, transcripts or other satisfactory documentation to TDLR, verifying the licensee's attendance, participation and completion of the continuing education. If selected for audit, all documentation must be provided at the time of renewal before the license will be renewed.

5. I am a pre-approved CE Provider. Should I submit each of the programs I plan to teach to the department for pre-approval?

No. We do not pre-approve CE programs. It is your responsibility as an approved provider to read and understand the rules. You are subject to random audit concerning the courses you provide.

6. I am interested in taking bodywork classes for CE. Which ones are acceptable to TDLR?

Most massage and bodywork modalities are acceptable, provided the sponsor is acceptable. Unacceptable modalities would include activities which are not part of providing a massage (e.g. ear candling) or that require another license (e.g. chiropractic adjustments).

7. I want to take some exercise or movement classes for CE. Which ones are acceptable?

Yoga, martial arts, and exercise classes are not acceptable unless they are specifically designed as self-care for massage therapists.

8. I want to take some energy work classes for CE. Which ones are acceptable?

Most energy work classes are acceptable, provided the sponsor is acceptable. They must be designed to enhance the provision of massage, and they may not involve any false or misleading health claims (e.g. claiming to cure or treat diseases).

Continuing Education Courses and Providers

1. How many hours of continuing education are required for the renewal of a massage therapist license?

A massage therapist must complete at least 12 hours of department-approved or recognized continuing education for license renewal.

2. How do I know what continuing education is accepted by the department?

Acceptable continuing education includes attendance and completion of courses which are directly related to the theory or clinical application of theory pertaining to the following:

  • practice of massage therapy
  • the manipulation of soft tissue
  • massage therapy laws and rules
  • business practices
  • professional ethics
  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • hydrotherapy
  • kinesiology
  • pathology
  • health and hygiene; and

If the courses are designed to increase and enhance professional knowledge, skills or competence and are provided by a department-approved provider or on of the recognized continuing education providers listed below:

  • Institutes
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • State or National conferences
  • Advanced Course work
  • College and university academic courses

Courses in first aid and/or CPR will be accepted if the course is taught or presented by a certified First Aid Instructor or certified CPR instructor which was certified by the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or National Safety Council. Courses are not to exceed six hours total each renewal period.

3. Are there any unique requirements I should be aware of regarding continuing education courses?

Continuing education courses must be developed and presented by qualified persons.

  • Massage therapy techniques and courses involving the manipulation of soft tissue must be taught or presented by a licensed massage therapy instructor.
  • Advanced massage therapy or bodywork techniques must be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration or education in the technique being presented.
  • Courses, other than techniques, may be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration, education or practical experience in the subject being presented.

4. Can I complete continuing education courses which are offered online or by correspondence?

Yes, continuing education courses offered or presented online or by correspondence will be accepted if the courses otherwise meet the standards and if the subject matter is not massage therapy techniques or manipulation of soft tissue.

5. Are there any continuing education activities or courses which will not be accepted for continuing education credit?

Yes, the department shall not give continuing education credit for the following:

  • (1) education incidental to the regular professional activities of a massage therapist, such as learning occurring from experience or research
  • (2) professional organizational activity, such as serving on committees or councils or as an officer in a professional organization
  • (3) college academic courses which are audited or not taken for credit
  • (4) independent study, except online or correspondence courses in accordance with the acceptable continuing education requirements of this subchapter
  • (5) any experience which does not comply with the approved continuing education in §117.31.

6. Where can I find a list of department-approved continuing education providers?

See the list of department-approved continuing education providers (Excel).

All licensed massage therapy schools are also approved to provide continuing education, and may issue either continuing education certificates, or transcripts showing advanced course work (as described in the rules, §117.60. Massage School Advanced Course Work). Search for a licensed massage school

7. Do I need to provide my continuing education certificates of completion when I renew my license?

No, please do not include your certificates of completion with the renewal of your license. The Department shall select a random sample of license holders for each renewal month. If selected for an audit, the licensee will be notified when they receive their renewal notice. The licensee will be required to submit copies of certificates, transcripts or other documentation to verify the licensee’s attendance, participation and completion of continuing education requirements. Licenses will not be renewed until continuing education requirements have been met.

8. Am I required to maintain a record of my continuing education experiences or certificates?

Yes, you are responsible for maintaining a record of your continuing education experiences or certificates. These records will be required if you are selected for audit. If you are selected for audit, then you will be notified and records will be required to be submitted to the department.

9. How do I become a department-approved continuing education provider for massage therapy?

To become approved as a massage therapy continuing education provider, you will need to submit the Massage Therapist Continuing Education Provider application along with the required fee of $200 and all requirements must be met. A brief description of the capability in developing and instructing continuing education courses will be required along with a business plan with clearly defined purposes such as policies on inclement weather, refunds and cancellations.

10. What are the instructor requirements regarding massage therapy continuing education courses?

  • Massage therapy techniques and courses involving the manipulation of soft tissue must be taught or presented by a licensed massage therapy instructor.
  • Advanced massage therapy or bodywork techniques must be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration or education in the technique being presented.
  • Courses, other than techniques, may be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration, education or practical experience in the subject being presented.

11. What are the requirements regarding attendance records and continuing education certificates of attendance for participants for department-approved providers.

Approved Providers are required to maintain attendance records of all continuing education activities for a period of 5 years.

Approved Provider shall issue a certificate of attendance to each participant in a course program. The certificate of attendance shall contain:

  • (1) the name of the approved provider and approval number;
  • (2) the name of the participant;
  • (3) the title of the program;
  • (4) the number of credit hours given;
  • (5) the subject(s) included in the program;
  • (6) the date and place of the program; and
  • (7) the signature of the approved provider.

12. As a department-approved continuing education providers, will I be audited for compliance?

Yes, the department may audit approved providers for compliance with 16 TAC §117.

Written Examinations

1. What examinations are required for licensure as a massage therapist?

Massage therapist applicants must pass both the Texas Jurisprudence Examination and a national licensing examination.

Texas Jurisprudence Examination

Register for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

No examination is required for massage therapy instructors, continuing education providers, or the owners of massage therapy establishments or massage therapy educational programs.

Other Massage Services

1. Can I perform waxing services under my massage license if I am properly trained?

No. Waxing is the practice of cosmetology and you must hold a cosmetology license.

2. I want to provide body sugaring services. Can I do this under my massage license?

No. Body sugaring constitutes the practice of cosmetology.

3. May I perform body wraps under my massage therapist license?

Body wraps do not require a license in Texas.

4. I want to provide facials. May I do so under my massage therapist license?

Yes. However, you may not advertise that you can offer cosmetology services - you cannot offer to 'beautify' the face, nor can you use any equipment or chemicals that requires a cosmetology license.

5. Do reflexologists need to have a massage license to practice reflexology?'

Reflexology of the hands and feet only (no massage therapy performed and no advertising that uses the word 'massage' or any other word protected by our law) does not require a license in Texas.

6. What is reflexology?

Reflexology is not the practice of massage therapy, when defined as follows: Energy work on the hands and feet only which involves holding or touching on the energy points. It does not involve manipulating soft tissue, stroking, rubbing, tapping, stretching, bathing, scrubbing, or the use of oils or lotions. The person cannot touch any other part of the body (e.g. cannot start rubbing the ankles as part of foot reflexology).

The person performing reflexology must also not represent that he or she is a massage therapist or use any of the other protected terms in the statute.

7. Does a salon always need a massage establishment license in order to offer massage therapy services?'

No. If only one massage therapist ever works in a salon and all advertising is done including the therapist's MT license number or full name, that salon location would fall under the solo practitioner exemption just like a massage therapist's private office. Otherwise yes, a massage establishment license is required.

8. Can I provide “bodyscaping” services as a massage therapist?

No. Hair removal requires a separate TDLR license:

Massage School Closures

1. My massage school closed. How do I obtain a copy of my transcript?

Contact information for records from past school closures:

  • Universal Body Wellness Massage School, closed March 31, 2015
    Records are available by email from UBWell, Inc. c/o PL Schmeits at UBWellTranscripts@gmail.com.
  • ATI, closed December 20, 2012
    For student records, please contact ATI at (877) 759-4729 or records@ancoraeducation.comStatement.
  • Institute of Beauty and Massage (formerly Austin Schools of Massage), closed August 13, 2009
    In the future, former students may request copies of their transcripts from the Institute of Beauty and Massage or Austin Schools of Massage from:
    Texas Healing Arts Institute
    7001 Burnet Road
    Austin, Texas 78757
    (512) 323-6042
    For non-transcript correspondence, please use:
    Institute of Beauty & Massage
    PO Box 90879
    Austin, TX 78709-0879

Requirement to Post License

1. When do I need to post my massage therapist license so that it is visible to the public and when can I just carry my wallet card?

You need to post your license at your primary office or place of employment and at any licensed massage establishment where you provide services.

TDLR will inspect licensed massage establishments for compliance with the Texas Occupations Code requirement, so you may need to order a duplicate license if you work at more than one massage establishment. See Sec. 455.204. Display of License.

Enforcement

1. How do I file a complaint against a massage therapy licensee, or report unlicensed activity?

Please file a complaint online.

The unlicensed practice of massage therapy, or the operation of an unlicensed massage therapy establishment, may also be reported to the local police in accordance with the law. See Texas Occupations Code Sec. 455.352. Criminal Penalty.

Filing a Complaint

1. How soon do I have to file a complaint?

You must file a complaint within two years of the event described in the complaint. TDLR will not accept complaints filed after two years unless you can show good cause for late filing to TDLR’s Executive Director.

2. I don’t want the licensee to know I filed a complaint. May I file a complaint anonymously?

Yes, TDLR accepts anonymous complaints. To file anonymously, be sure to leave the “Complaining Party” space blank on the complaint form. Keep in mind, if you file anonymously, you will not receive updates from TDLR on the status of your complaint and you will not be able to provide any additional information TDLR may need.

3. Does TDLR open and investigate every complaint received?

No. If the information you provide in your complaint does not contain enough information for TDLR to determine that a violation may have occurred, TDLR will first seek additional information from you (if you did not file anonymously). If TDLR does not receive enough information following that request, your complaint may not be opened for investigation.

4. What happens after I file my complaint?

Please see our Complaint Investigation and Resolution page for a detailed explanation of the complaint process.

5. What is the status of a complaint I filed?

TDLR will mail you quarterly notices and will inform you of the resolution of your complaint. Please keep your address and phone number updated with TDLR.

6. How do I know if disciplinary action was taken against a licensee, or an unlicensed person or business?

If a complaint results in disciplinary action taken by TDLR, it will be posted in our Administrative Orders Search for three years following the signed order.

Communication

1. How do I stay informed about changes impacting me?

Sign up for email updates to receive the latest news and information.