What Are Massage Therapy License Requirements in 2023

One of the first steps in opening your new business will be learning the massage therapy license requirements- specific requirements designed to protect business owners and clients.

What You Will Learn

We’ll look at both the massage therapist licensing requirements and the broader licensure and certification requirements for small businesses, along with how to obtain them and their costs.

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  1. What License Do You Need To Open A Massage Therapy Business?
  2. What Is Massage Therapy License Cost?
  3. Massage Therapist License Requirements
  4. Can You Open A Massage Therapy Business Without A License
  5. Conclusion
Massage business license
Massage Business License

What License Do You Need To Open A Massage Therapy Business?


First of all, there are different requirements for being a board certified licensed massage therapist and for running a massage business itse


Business professionals will need to obtain several licenses and permits to operate depending on the massage services provided, and these (along with the various fees associated with them) vary by state.

  • Massage Business License: There is no specific massage therapy business license per se. The basic business license for massage therapist studios and spas is the same as other small businesses. These licenses are required by law and are issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration and by your state. You can apply online by providing your business name, your own name, and your social security number.
  • Employer Identification Number: This is often referred to as an EIN. You’ll need this number to file taxes, submit payroll forms or do most other employer-related paperwork.
  • TIN: This is your Tax Identification Number, used for filing federal tax forms. You can apply on the IRS website to get this nine-digit number.
  • Certificate of Occupancy: Most states require you to complete a building inspection when you apply for this. Building and fire inspectors check the premises to make sure it meets every health and safety regulation, has the right utility hookups and enough space for massage professionals to treat clients.
  • Retail Permits: In most cases, you’ll need this to sell any products (all states that collect sales tax have rules in place requiring permits to sell products). You can apply for this through your state’s website or via the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Building Permits: Any building renovations will require a permit in line with state or local regulations. You’ll have to apply on your local website, and you may have to pass an inspection from the local building inspector when the work is complete.
  • Massage Therapy License: Do you need a license to be a massage therapist? Absolutely. Everyone who wants to practice massage therapy needs to be licensed. In the United States, a licensed massage therapist will be at least 18 years old and have met specific requirements (these may vary by state but usually involve education and coursework, followed by practical training and a certification exam).
  • Criminal Background Check: At least 25 states require that a licensed massage therapist (and in some cases even the owner of the establishment) obtain a background check as part of their qualifications. This involves submitting your fingerprints and personal information to a local police agency or licensed provider for verification.

Do not miss our post on how to start a massage business.

Massage business EIN
Massage Business EIN

What Is Massage Therapy License Cost?

  • Business License: Owners of small businesses can expect to pay between $100-$400 for this, including application and processing fees. The renewal costs are at least $60, depending on where you’re located, so make sure to check your state’s website.
  • Insurance: This is required by law, and it protects your massage therapists, the business itself and the clients. General Liability Insurance costs around $50 to $250 a month, and your massage therapists may want to get their own liability coverage, too.
  • Certificates: Certificate of Occupancy requirements vary along with state building codes, but set aside a minimum of $250 for this. Remember, if the building inspector finds any health or safety issues, you’ll have to fix these and pay for a second inspection.
  • Massage Therapist License and Certification: Each of your massage therapists will need to get a massage therapy license or state certification and keep it up to date. The fees for massage therapy license renewal usually range between $50-$100 USD. The original massage therapist license cost will often be included in a training program’s tuition.
  • Permits: Each state sets their own costs and has specific rules for issuing retail permits, so make sure to check your local website for more information.

We recommend you to check out our post on massage therapy mission statement.

Massage business TIN
Massage Business TIN

Massage Therapist License Requirements


You may be wondering how to obtain a massage therapy license or certification (and what is the difference between massage therapy certification vs license, anyway?). It turns out that these are different things, but can be closely related. Let’s take a look at licensure, board certification and accreditation in more detail.

  • Licensure: The process of how to get a massage therapy license at the state level involves first studying massage and bodywork through an accredited education program (more on this later), completing practicum placements, then passing an exam through the state board. You can then apply for your massage therapist license online. The training program requires a person to study health, professional ethics and safety as well as massage.

    How long does it take to get a massage therapy license, and what can you do with a massage therapy license? The timeline on how to get a license for massage therapy can range from around 500- 1000 hours of study, plus additional training in things like CPR or professional ethics.

    One exception to this is the California Massage Therapy Council- state licensing is voluntary here, and they can provide you with a certification if you’ve completed the required amount of coursework and hours in the profession.

    Massage certificate of occupancy
    Massage Certificate of Occupancy
  • Renewals: Massage therapist license requirements by state vary, but on average you’ll need to renew your occupational license every two years.

    You can usually renew your massage therapy license online after completing a required exam or continued education course. To find out more about massage therapist license renewal, check your state’s website.

  • Certifications: These are voluntary. A licensed massage therapist doesn’t necessarily need certification to practice, and certification programs are offered by private associations who train you or acknowledge that you’ve met their standards. Educational programs often offer board certification as part of their process.

    Founded in 1992, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is one example of this, and the American Massage Therapy Association provides numerous continuing education courses, too.

    There are many benefits for massage therapists who want to get certified. Massage therapists and practitioners looking to grow in the profession might pursue a certification program in various specialized massage techniques, including:

    • Sports massage
    • Craniosacral therapy
    • Prenatal massage
    • Stone massage
    • Medical massage therapy
    • Scandinavian mobilization therapy
  • Accreditation: This is the process that offers public recognition to a school that trains massage therapists- a board or regulatory body reviews their program and business practices and verifies that they meet professional standards. If you’re wondering how to get your massage therapy license, then finding an accredited program in your area is the first step.

To learn more about massage franchise opportunities check out our post on massage franchise.

Massage retail license
Massage Retail License

Can You Open A Massage Therapy Business Without A License?


Usually, yes.

Massage therapy license requirements by state differ, and some states, such as Washington, require even the business owners to be licensed massage therapists.

That said, most of the time you just need to obtain the required licenses, certificates, insurance and permits to meet each state and federal regulation, then make sure that your staff of massage therapists are properly licensed and trained.

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Massage criminal background check
Massage Criminal Bckground Check



Massage therapy businesses are a growing industry with a lot of potential, and an exciting way to make a positive impact on a local community.

We hope that this article has answered your questions about massage therapy license requirements and helped you feel ready to take the next steps in getting started. Best of luck!


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