Massage Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
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2019 Legislative Updates
1. Why is a student permit required for each student enrolled in my massage school and when does this take affect?
During the 86th Legislative session HB 1865 was passed requiring all licensed massage schools to properly account for each student enrolled in the school. This requirement takes effect June 1, 2020.
School Monthly Reporting
1. How is my school going to report hours monthly?
TDLR will provide instructions to each school for reporting hours.
1. Are massage establishments and schools required to post human trafficking information?
Yes, 455.207 requires the posting of a sign concerning services and assistance available to victims of human trafficking. These signs must be in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and displayed in an area clearly visible to the public. This posting must be displayed by April 1, 2020.
Photo on License
1. Do I need my photograph attached to my massage therapy license?
Yes, a current photo of the individual massage therapist must be attached to the front of the license. The photo will be required by January 1, 2020.
2. Does the photograph need to be in color or black and white?
The individual massage therapist photograph can be in color or black and white.
(no sunglasses or caps/hats?).
Cannot Reside in Establishment
1. Can I reside in the massage establishment?
No, a massage establishment may not allow any individual to reside on the premises of the massage establishment. This requirement became effective September 1, 2019.
1. Do I need to get fingerprinted to get a massage license?
Yes, all applicants for Massage Therapist, Massage School, Massage Therapy Instructor, or Massage Establishment licenses must submit fingerprints for a national criminal history record review. The applicant is responsible for paying the fee associated with this review to the fingerprint service vendor used by Texas Department of Public Safety. This requirement became effective September 1, 2019.
Fingerprinting is a one-time requirement and must be completed by all licensees no later than September 1, 2021.
2. How do I get an appointment to be fingerprinted?
If you currently hold a Texas massage license, please see the Fingerprinting Instructions for Current License Holders page.
If you are applying for a new massage license, please see the Fingerprinting Instructions for New Applicants page.
3. What if I do not get fingerprinted?
To be eligible for licensure, you must successfully pass a criminal history background check which includes fingerprinting.
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.
- I am trying to launch PALMS and I receive an error message that states my account is locked. How do I unlock my PALMS account?
If you receive a message that your PALMS account is locked, you have made 5 or more attempts to login to PALMS with either the wrong username or password. Please contact the Education Division and state that your PALMS account is locked. Provide your school name and license number.
- Can a massage school have more than one user for the massage school online services and PALMS?
No, only one email account can be set up and assigned for a massage school. Only one user can be set up for the massage school online services and PALMS.
- How does a massage school edit or change a massage student’s name?
A massage school cannot edit or change a student’s name in PALMS. You will need to contact the Education Division and submit a copy of the student’s driver license or other form of government issued identification along with the student’s permit number.
- What student information can be edited through PALMS?
The only student information that can be edited is the mailing address, email address, or phone number.
- How much is the student permit fee and is the student permit fee refundable?
The student permit fee is $25.00. All fees are non-refundable.
- What type of report do massage schools need to upload for tracking student progress?
A massage school does not need to upload any progress reports in PALMS. Any student progress reports should be maintained in the student’s file.
- Can a massage school mail in the student permit applications if we have issues uploading the spreadsheet?
Yes, a massage school can submit more than one student permit application by mail and pay the fees with one check. However, the student permit application should be used for those students who do not have a social security number. All other students should be enrolled using PALMS.
- How is a massage student made eligible for the exam?
Once a student completes the course requirements, the school will need to graduate the student in PALMS and then the student will need to contact the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB) to schedule the MBLEX examination.
- I have a massage course that started in January, and with delays caused by COVID-19, the student did not finish until after 9/01/2020. What is needed for these students to be eligible for the exam?
If the student has completed the course requirements, the school will need to report the student’s hours and graduate the student in PALMS. Once the student is graduated, the student can contact FSMTB and schedule the MBLEX exam.
- Can a massage school report a student’s hours on any day of the month?
Yes, but hours can only be reported once a month.
- Can a massage student be enrolled in PALMS, if the student’s social security number begins with the number “0”?
Yes, the student can be enrolled in PALMS, but you will need to use the single enrollment option. You cannot use the excel spreadsheet for these students.
- PALMS is not accepting one of my student’s mailing address. What documentation do I need to submit?
Please make sure the student’s address is entered correctly following the format provided. PALMS will issue an error message detailing what corrections are needed. You can contact the Education division if additional assistance is needed.
- My massage school has a time clock and/or sign-in sheet which is used to track student attendance. Why do we need to report student hours once a month?
Massage Therapy Administrative Rule 117.67 requires massage schools to submit to TDLR an electronic record of each student’s accrued clock hours at least one time per month in a manner and format prescribed by the department. PALMS is the portal that was created for massage schools to report student hours directly to TDLR.
- Are massage schools still required to maintain a Student Master Attendance Roster?
No, massage schools are required to enroll all student in PALMS. The PALMS enrollment roster is the student master attendance roster.
- Can a school edit a student’s record after the student was graduated in PALMS?
No, once a student has been reported graduated in PALMS, the student is removed from the school’s roster and the school will no longer be able to edit the student’s record.
- Are schools required to use a time clock system to track hours?
No, but schools are required to maintain, and track student attendance and hours completed.
- How does a massage school report a student’s make-up hours?
Massage schools are required to report all successfully completed course hours once a month using PALMS.
- What date are schools expected to have students enrolled in PALMS?
Effective 9/1/2020, all massage students enrolled in a massage school should be enrolled in PALMS and assigned a student permit number.
- How do schools enroll students and report hours that were completed prior to the 9/1/2020?
Schools will enroll the student and report all hours completed prior to 9/1/2020 when the school reports hours for the month of September.
- I have a student that wants to enroll and has 200 hours completed from another school. How does the student receive credit for the 200 hours already completed?
If the student completed hours in an out-of-state school, a college, a university, or an out-of-country school, the transcript evaluation form (link) must be submitted to TDLR along with the student’s transcript. TDLR will complete the evaluation and credit the student with the appropriate hours and assign a permit number for the school to enroll the student.
- Is there a fee for the transcript evaluation?
No, there is no fee to have transcripts evaluated by TDLR.
- Where can I view the PALMS Enrollment Training Videos?
There are four videos that provide instructions and training for PALMS that can be viewed at: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/mas/mas.htm.
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 periodic 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.