Continuing Education

Questions & Answers for Licensed Massage Therapists


Introduction | General Information | Continuing Education Requirements | Subjects and Providers of Continuing Education | Record Keeping and Reporting | Further Information

Introduction

Effective January 1, 2012, to renew your registration as a massage therapist, New York State Education Law requires completion of 36 hours of acceptable formal continuing education, a maximum of which may be 12 hours of self-instructional coursework, in each three-year renewal period. Practitioners are not required to complete continuing education for the triennial registration period during which they are first licensed. All other registered massage therapists are required to complete 36 hours, the equivalent of 1 hour per month, of acceptable continuing education. Please refer to the chart below for the hours required during the initial phase-in period beginning on January 1, 2012.

The statutes and regulations that apply to these requirements are available on this site. This document is designed to respond to frequently asked questions. It is not a substitute for reading the provisions of law, rule or regulation.


General Information

  1. Is there a difference between "licensure" and "registration"?

    Yes. In New York State, upon satisfying the eligibility requirements, a "license" is awarded. Licensure is for life unless suspended, revoked or annulled for reasons of misconduct.

    To practice as a massage therapist in New York, a licensee must be currently "registered." Registration is for a three-year period (except the first renewal after licensure that is prorated to move licensees to month of birth renewal).


Continuing Education Requirements

  1. Am I required to take continuing education?

    Yes. Every massage therapist practicing under his/her New York license must take continuing education. As a practicing massage therapist, you are required to complete 36 hours of acceptable formal continuing education during each three-year registration period. If you are newly licensed, you will not have to complete continuing education coursework in the triennial registration period during which you are first licensed.

  2. When will I be required to begin reporting completion of continuing education?

    Practitioners whose first re-registration date following January 1, 2012, occurs less than three years from that date, will have to complete continuing education hours at the rate of one hour of acceptable formal continuing education per month for the period beginning January 1, 2012, up to the first re-registration date thereafter.

    • If you are renewing the registration of your license on or after January 1, 2012, the number of hours you will be required to complete and report will vary depending on when your current registration expires. Please see the chart below in order to determine the required number of hours you need to complete prior to your registration renewal date.

      If you are due to register for the period beginning: You will be required to complete the following number of hours of continuing education
      January 2012 1
      February 2012 2
      March 2012 3
      April 2012 4
      May 2012 5
      June 2012 6
      July 2012 7
      August 2012 8
      September 2012 9
      October 2012 10
      November 2012 11
      December 2012 12
      January 2013 13
      February 2013 14
      March 2013 15
      April 2013 16
      May 2013 17
      June 2013 18
      July 2013 19
      August 2013 20
      September 2013 21
      October 2013 22
      November 2013 23
      December 2013 24
      January 2014 25
      February 2014 26
      March 2014 27
      April 2014 28
      May 2014 29
      June 2014 30
      July 2014 31
      August 2014 32
      September 2014 33
      October 2014 34
      November 2014 35
      December 2014 36

  3. I just passed the New York State Massage Therapy Examination and received my license. Since I am in my first registration period, do I need to take continuing education courses immediately?

    You are not required to take continuing education during the three-year registration period in which you are first licensed.

  4. I just received my registration certificate and notice that the registration period is less than three-years. Am I required to complete a total of 36 hours of continuing education for this period?

    No, registration periods may be adjusted so that subsequent renewals will occur during a licensee's month of birth. If your registration period is less than three years, count the number of months of the registration period to determine the number of hours required. You must complete 1 hour of continuing education for each month. For example, if your registration period is from 01/01/13 to 06/30/15, this registration period is a 30-month period; therefore, you are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education.

  5. What is an hour of continuing education?

    An hour is at least 50 minutes in duration; however, credit for some courses may be given in continuing education units. One continuing education unit (CEU) typically equals 10 contact hours. Therefore, 0.1 CEU would equal one contact hour, 0.2 CEUs would equal two contact hours, and so on.

  6. If I complete more than the 36 hours required for my current registration period may I carry over the excess hours to my next registration period?

    No, continuing education contact hours may not be carried over to subsequent registration periods.

  7. Must I take a specific number of continuing education courses each year during my registration period?

    No. As long as you complete the required number of hours prior to the expiration date of your registration, you may take all courses in one year, if you wish.

  8. I am licensed in New York State but my registration is inactive and I have not been practicing my profession in any jurisdiction. Do I need to complete continuing education before I can reactivate my registration?

    Yes. You must complete the continuing education requirement that was in place during the registration period in which you were last registered, plus, additional hours to cover the lapse in registration. However, only continuing education taken from an approved provider and earned after January 1, 2012, may be counted.

  9. What if there are circumstances which make it impossible for me to comply?

    Several options are available; however you must submit the Registration Renewal Addendum with your Registration Renewal Document before your request can be considered.

    1. Inactive Status

      A registration may be placed on inactive status if the licensee will not be practicing in New York State.

    2. Adjustment

      The Department may grant an adjustment to the requirements for reasons which, in the Department's judgment, prevent compliance. An adjustment may be granted for reasons of health certified by an appropriate health care professional(s), for extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States, or for other good cause acceptable to the Department which makes it impossible for the licensee to comply. For more information regarding an adjustment to this requirement, please contact the Office of the State Board for Massage Therapy.

    3. Conditional Registration

      A conditional registration will allow a licensee to continue working while making up the deficiencies in the continuing education requirement from the previous registration period. In addition, the licensee may be required to complete additional continuing education during the conditional registration period. If granted, a conditional registration is valid for one year and cannot be renewed or extended.


Subjects and Providers of Continuing Education

  1. What courses are acceptable for continuing education?

    To be acceptable the courses must be administered:

    • By a sponsor approved by the State Education Department and
    • In an approved subject area (see question 14 for a listing of approved subject areas)

    Also, hours may be earned by:

    1. Preparing and teaching a course offered by an approved provider of continuing education, provided that the course being taught has not been presented on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    2. Preparing and teaching a course, acceptable to the Department, at a higher education institution or at a program registered by the Department as licensure-qualifying for the profession of massage therapy relating to the practice of massage therapy, provided that the course has not been taught by the licensee on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    3. Making a presentation at a professional conference sponsored by an organization that is a sponsor of continuing education, provided that the presentation has not been given on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    4. Achieving specialty certification from an entity acceptable to the Department;
    5. Completing a self-study program, i.e., structured study provided by a sponsor;
    6. Authoring an article published in a peer-reviewed journal or a published book; and
    7. Completing and receiving a passing score on an examination developed by the State Board for Massage Therapy and the Department that demonstrates the licensee's knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of massage therapy; or
    8. Renewing a course in First Aid or CPR leading to a certificate for a maximum of three hours in each renewal period for each subject.

    There is a 12 hour restriction on self instruction. Six hours of self-instructional activities approved by other jurisdictions for formal education in massage therapy, including continuing education, may be included in these activities.

  2. How many continuing education hours can I get for each activity?

    Each approved provider determines the length of the course to be provided and then determines the hours according to the following: The awarding of continuing education hours is based on a contact hour which is defined as not less than 50 minutes of an organized learning activity. Thus, a program of two clock hours may be awarded up to 2.4 contact hours (120 minutes ÷ 50 minutes = 2.4 contact hours). One CEU (Continuing Education Unit) typically equals 10 contact hours (see #6 above). Time for breaks, meals, etc. may not be included in the calculation for contact hour award.

    Activities, such as those listed in the following chart, may be approved for the amount of hours indicated.

    Activity Continuing Education Credit Hours
    Successful completion of a credit-bearing course at a higher education institution or licensure-qualifying program in massage therapy
    • Must be in an approved subject area
    15 continuing education hours per course credit hour, i.e., 3 credit course = 45 continuing education hours
    Teaching a credit-bearing course in a higher education institution or in a licensure-qualifying massage therapy program
    • Must be in an approved subject area
    • Must meet the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material
    20 hours of continuing education credit (this includes the two-hour preparation time allowed in regulation)
    Presenting a continuing education course for an approved sponsor
    • Must be in an approved subject matter area
    • Must meet the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material
    For every in-class contact hour, three hours of continuing education credit may be awarded (this includes the two-hour preparation time allowed in regulation)
    Authoring an article published in a peer-reviewed journal Continuing education hours to be determined by the Department
    Authoring a chapter in a published book Hours of continuing education to be determined by the Department
    Editing a multiple-author published book Hours of continuing education to be determined by the Department
    Professional specialty certification culminating in the passage of the certification examination; recertification 10 hours of continuing education for initial certification; 5 hours for recertification
    Test of knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of massage therapy A maximum of 3 hours of continuing education
    First Aid or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) A maximum of 3 hours of continuing education hours for each area

  3. Where can I take the test of knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of massage therapy?

    The test will soon be available on the Massage Therapy State Board web site and will be listed under, "Test Your Knowledge of Law and Practice." To receive the three hours of continuing education, you must complete the test and answer each question correctly. Once finished, you may print out the results and save that as the certification to receive the three hours of continuing education credit.

    Who are approved sponsors?

    See "Department Approved Sponsors."

  4. Is there any limitation on the subject matter of the coursework?

    Yes. The subject matter must contribute to your professional and clinical skills and have as its focus:

    • Activities that enhance knowledge and skill in the theory, technique and methods that fall within or are related to the practice of massage therapy including, but not limited to, instruction in Swedish massage; medical massage; Shiatsu; connective tissue massage; Tui Na; reflexology; acupressure; polarity; myofascial massage; neuromuscular massage; craniosacral techniques; manual lymphatic drainage; infant massage; pregnancy massage; stretching; exercises to facilitate, enhance or perpetuate the benefits of massage therapy; Thai massage; sports massage; and courses related to specific physical conditions, such as cancer, that may require massage therapy;
    • Subjects that are fundamental to the practice of the profession, including, but not limited to, pathology, myology, neurology, anatomy, physiology, or subjects that are ancillary to the practice, such as effects of massage therapy on medication regimes;
    • Subjects that include, but are not limited to, activities and skills needed for practice, such as communication, intake procedures, assessment and evaluation, treatment planning, prevention, recordkeeping, First Aid, CPR, and knowledge of the chemical ingredients and safety of products and tools used in the practice of massage therapy;
    • Clinical interventions/evidence-based models;
    • Philosophy and principles of massage therapy;
    • Subjects relating to health care, professional rules and regulations, standards of good practice, precautions, law, and/or ethics which contribute to professional practice in massage therapy and the health, safety, and/or welfare of the public.

  5. Can I study on my own rather than take a formal or self-study course?

    Twelve hours of self-instructional coursework acceptable to the Department is permitted to the extent that it can be verified by documentation. This coursework may include, but is not limited to, online instruction in all of the subject areas that are identified in question 14. Up to six hours of study in courses approved by other jurisdictions for formal education in massage therapy, including continuing education, may be accepted as part of such self-instructional coursework. Acceptable documentation must be maintained for all self-study that is completed and must be submitted to the Department if the licensee’s continuing education compliance is audited.

  6. Are courses limited to a traditional "classroom setting" in which I am in the same room with the instructor?

    Self-study courses are acceptable. They are structured study, provided by an approved provider that are based on audio, audio-visual, written, on-line and other media and do not include live instruction, transmitted in person or otherwise, during which the student may communicate and interact with the instructor and other students. Examples include a televised lecture with no means of direct interaction or a web-based course that can be taken at home.

  7. Can I take all my courses on-line?

    Yes. There isn't any limit to how many courses you may take on-line through an approved sponsor.

  8. Are there subjects that will not be acceptable to meet the continuing education requirements?

    Yes. Coursework in techniques that do not fall in the practice of the profession of massage therapy, such as, but not limited to Reiki, Feldenkrais Method, the Alexander Technique, or appearance enhancement practices as defined by the New York State Department of State are not acceptable as continuing education. In addition, continuing education that is designed for the sole purpose of maximizing profits for the practice of a massage therapist shall not be acceptable as continuing education.

  9. Do persons who present continuing education courses within New York State have to be licensed as massage therapists, or be authorized to provide massage therapy services?

    Didactic instruction may be provided by persons who are not licensed by New York State as massage therapists, but the practical application of such modalities and techniques must be done by licensed massage therapists, or those otherwise authorized, when continuing education occurs within New York State.


Record Keeping and Reporting

  1. What records will I have to keep?

    Providers must issue a Certificate of Completion to licensees who complete courses for continuing education hours. The information on each course should be retained in your records for six years from the date of completion.

    A Certificate of Completion should include the following information:

    1. Name of licensee and licensee number;
    2. Title of the course or program, subject area, and any identification number assigned to it by the provider;
    3. Number of hours completed;
    4. The provider's name and any identifying number;
    5. Verification by the provider of your attendance; and
    6. The date and location of the course or activity.

  2. What information must I provide the Education Department when I renew my registration?

    You will be required to attest on your Registration Renewal Document that you completed the required continuing education hours.

  3. Do I have to send my continuing education records to the Department when I reregister?

    No. However, you must retain your continuing education records for 6 years, because you are required to make your continuing education records available for inspection by the Education Department upon our request. A random sample of licensees will have their records of mandatory continuing education audited each year to assure compliance with the continuing education requirement.

  4. What documentation must I provide if my continuing education records are audited?

    You must provide the Department with your records of completion for each approved continuing education course or activity when requested. In no cases will self-reporting forms be acceptable.

  5. What if the audit reveals discrepancies?

    An attestation that a licensee has met the continuing education requirement must be made at the time of re-registration. An audit of the documents that a licensee must maintain that provides evidence of the completion of continuing education is conducted annually with a percent of registrants. You may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct if it is found following inquiry and review that you willfully made or filed a false report, which is considered unprofessional conduct, according to Section 29.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. Penalties may include censure and reprimand, fine, and/or suspension or revocation of your license.

  6. What if I fail to complete the required number of hours but wish to continue practicing in New York?

    The Department, at its discretion, may issue you a conditional registration if you request one. The conditional registration is valid for one year only and is not renewable. To be granted a conditional registration you would have to:

    1. Agree to complete the required hours of continuing education from the previous registration period during the period of conditional registration;
    2. Complete the regular continuing education requirement at a rate of 1 hour per month for the one-year conditional registration period;
    3. Complete and submit the Registration Renewal Addendum; and
    4. Pay a fee that is the same as and in addition to, any applicable fee for the triennial registration required by section 7804 of the Education Law. In addition, you must pay the $45 mandatory continuing education fee.

    At the end of the conditional registration period, you must submit your continuing education records to the Department, certifying that you have completed the required continuing education.

Further Information

  1. How can I obtain more information?

    Please contact the Office of the State Board for Massage Therapy, New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions, State Education Building – Room 304, 89 Washington Ave., Albany, New York, 12234, phone 518-474-3817 ext. 150, fax 518-473-1951, e-mail msthbd@mail.nysed.gov.

Last Updated: June 28, 2013