Massage Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
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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.
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 page.
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.
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 or claim 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:
9. What types of specialty/specialized massages can I provide as a licensed massage therapist in Texas?
As with any specialized massage technique (pregnancy, oncology, intra-oral), you must have sufficient education and training to practice safely. When performing any specialized massage technique, you may not represent that you can diagnose or treat any illness or disease, nor perform any activity that constitutes a protected practice in Texas. Additionally, massage therapists must always practice massage therapy in accordance with the laws and rules of this state.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 - Also Closed
Transcripts available at: http://www.texashealingarts.com/product/get-your-transcript/
- Texas Healing Arts Institute - Also Closed
2. I have already completed some of the 500 hours of coursework required for licensure as a massage therapist. Can a massage school accept me as a transfer student?
Yes. If you completed the hours at a Texas licensed massage school, a massage school can accept you as a transfer student.
If you completed the hours at another school, college, or university, including in another state, you will first need to apply for licensure as a massage therapist in Texas to find out if TDLR will accept your transcript, and how much credit we will grant. 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, college or university is currently acceptable for licensure in the state in which it is located (if out of state).
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.
3. What is an official transcript and how do we send it to TDLR?
An official transcript is the certified original document issued by the massage school. The transcript does not have to be in a sealed envelope from the school.
Acceptable transcripts can be delivered through the following methods:
- By Mail
You may mail in the official transcript to the following address:
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 12157
Austin, Texas 78711
You may bring the official transcript to the main office at 920 Colorado, Austin TX, 78701
Schools may email the official transcript directly to TDLR at the following email address: CS.MassageTherapy@tdlr.texas.gov or fax it to 512-475-2871 with a cover letter from the school.
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.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. What happens after I file my complaint?
Please see our Complaint Investigation and Resolution page for a detailed explanation of the complaint process.
6. 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.
7. 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.