NCETMB vs MBLEx: Which massage exam should you take?


*Important Announcement!*

The NCBTMB has announced that as of 11/1/2014, it will no longer administer an entry level licensing exam. This means the MBLEx will be the only licensing exam available in most states.

To learn more about preparing for the MBLEx, please visit

You can read the NCBTMB press release here.

Not sure which massage licensing exam is best for you?

Do you wonder which exam is accepted by your state board or which one gives extra letters to put after your name? A lot has changed regarding entry level massage licensing exam within the past few years.

Here is a little advice, insight, and direction from someone who has taken, and passed, both the NCETMB and the MBLEx.

To clear up which exams are available and which are not, let’s start with a chart.

Is this an entry level licensing exam? Yes Yes Yes No
Is this exam currently available? Yes Yes No Yes
Will this exam make me “Nationally Certified”? No Not Anymore No No, but will give you “Board Certification” from the NCBTMB
Will this exam make me “Nationally Licensed”? No No No No
Who provides this exam? FSMTB NCBTMB NCBTMB NCBTMB
Does this exam require continuing education? No Not Anymore No Yes

As you can see, you only have a couple of exams to choose from: the NCETMB/NCETM or the MBLEx.

Here is another comparison chart to show the difference between these exams.

Exam Provider FSTMB NCBTMB
Provider Website
States that accept the exam States Accepting MBLEx States Accepting NCETMB
Eligibility You can take the MBLEx at anytime. Before, during or after massage training. You may take the exam before massage school graduation, but your score will not be released until the NCBTMB receives your school transcript.
Cost $195 $185
Number of Questions 100 Questions 125 Questions
Time Limit 2 hours 2 hours and 5 minutes
(plus 10 minutes for tutorial and 10 minutes for comments following the exam)
Category Percentage Breakdown MBLEx Breakdown NCETMB Breakdown
NCETM Breakdown
Language Availability English and Spanish English

Now a little bit more background on the exams and the organizations which oversee these exams.


The NCETMB/NCETM are adminisered by the NCBTMB, one of the oldest and most recognized organizations in the massage therapy field. The NCBTMB struggled after the successful role-out of the MBLEx by the FSMTB. Many, many changes were, and are, being made to the NCBTMB organization.

Are these the exams that give you “National Certification”?

The NCETM/NCETMB was used as a voluntary credentialing exam and a entry level licensing exam. After you took the NCETMB/NCETM you could use the letters “NCTM” or “NCTMB” after your name (this is the voluntary credential). This was really important if you lived in a state that had no educational requirements or licensing laws (e.g. States where you could not use “LMT” because there was no licensing board).

Now most states regulate and license massage therapists, and therefore, the NCBTMB needed to evolve. The NCETM and NCETMB are now both used as entry level licensing exams, like the MBLEx. Entry-level licensing exams help you get your license and the important letters “LMT” after your name (or CMT, RMT, LMP).

Years ago after you took the NCETMB/NCETM, you could also say that you were “nationally certified”, which was a somewhat confusing term. “Nationally Certified” did not imply that you could work in any state under a national license, but rather that you were certified by a national board.

The NCBTMB recently phased the NCBTM credential out and rolled out a new “board certfication”.

The new BCTMB

In 2013, the NCBTMB released a new “Board Certification” exam, the BCTMB. This exam replaces “National Credential” they are phasing out, the exam that gave massage therapists the “NCTMB” letters after their name. The BCTMB is not a licensing examination. It is another voluntary certification exam.

The NCBTMB states: “This new credential requires fulfilling additional qualifications, including more education, hands-on experience and a background check. Therapists achieving this credential will have the proper foundation to better serve their clients and demonstrate a commitment to raising the standards of the profession that have remained stagnant for the past 20 years.”

You can read more about the BCTMB exam and the requirements to sit for this exam here.


The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). The FSMTB is a board made up of members from each participating state’s massage board. This structure is similar to how the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the administrators of the Nursing Board Exam (NCLEX), is organized.

The MBLEx was introduced in October 2007 as an entry level exam for massage licensure.

It is now a very popular choice and has received positive reviews from test takers.

Who is eligible to apply to take the MBLEx?

Anyone can apply to take the exam, regardless if they have a few months left to complete massage training, or if they have been out of school for years. This should help speed up the licensing process (and earn a living as a massage therapist) for most of you.

Like the NCBTMB exams, the MBLEx is given at pearson vue centers around the country.

The FSMTB does a great job of answering questions about why they believe the MBLEx is the best choice for an entry-level examination other there website. I highly recommend reading this before making a choice about what exam is best for you.

Why I prefer the MBLEx

I have been a massage therapist for over thirteen years now. In that time I have witnessed many changes in the massage community. The number of states licensing massage therapists has more than doubled, therefore reinforcing the need of a entry-level licensing exam and reducing the need for a voluntary credential.

I have watched some massage organizations adapt to the changes in our profession, while others have failed to do so.

When I developed my study guide and prep course, I made the decision to focus on the exam I felt was best for the massage profession, both short and long term.

If your state accepts the MBLEx, I would recommend it without hesitation.

Both ABMP and AMTA, two of the most respected organizations in the massage field, support and endorse the MBLEx.

I have helped many people prepare for MBLEx, pass, and get their massage license. I would love to help you too.

Are you ready for the next step?

I recently launched Massage Exam Academy. A study guide and exam prep service to help you apply, study, and pass the MBLEx.

I developed and used this material to help me pass my MBLEx exam, I know it will give you the knowledge and confidence to pass yours, too.

Still have a question?

Please feel free to ask a question in the comments below.

You may also email me at:

I would be happy to help!
Ivy Hultquist, L.M.T. (Iowa #02648 and Florida #MA66325)

Additional Contact Information

Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)
7111 W 151st Street, Suite 356
Overland Park, Kansas 66223
Phone: 913.681.0380
Fax: 913.681.0391
Website: FSMTB
Current Fee: $195

National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)
1901 South Meyers Road, Suite 240
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Phone: 630-627-8000 or 1-800-296-0664
Website: NCBTMB
Current Fee: $185 (NCETMB/NCETM Option)

Photo Credit: cocoen


  1. LIsa says

    I’m going to graduate in march of 2011 with a massage certificate. I did an apprentice ship 4 years ago and practice massage in minneapolis, mn. My professors have not heard of the MBLEX. I hear the nctmb has cams on it’ i’m worried I won’t pass. I’m moving to Utah or Colorado in July of 2011. My question is could i just take the MBLEX i don’t know what to take could you offer any advise. thanks

    • says

      Really? They have not heard of the MBLEx? I guess with the freedom access laws in MN it may not be common knowledge. First, wherever you move you need to make sure you have enough hours to get a license in that state and find out if the state takes the MBLEx. According to both Colorado and Utah do accept the MBLEx. So my advise is take the MBLEx and don’t think twice about it. From what I here it is clearly the exam to take. Now, if you stay in MN I would maybe take the NCETMB (I don’t say that very often) because of the lack of licensing and possible need to credential yourself to potential clients. I hope that helps!

  2. C.L. Wallis says

    I went to school in Virginia (600 hr course). I took the NCEMBT and passed but never got state certified in VA. I just moved to Arkansas and am having trouble understanding exactly what I would need to do to become certified in this state.

    • says

      Good Afternoon C.L.

      I am not as familiar with the licencing laws in Arkansas as I am with the laws of Iowa and Florida. But, I figured I should learn more about, so I looked it up this morning. It seems quite detailed, but they do break it down for you a little.

      First, here is the application:
      Application Instructions

      Here is what I found in the instructions:
      Out-of-state Applicants
       Must provide Criminal Background Check from state or states previously resided in or Federal
      Background Check to include the taking of fingerprints (results must be sent to the Arkansas
      State Board of Massage Therapy from the issuing agency);
       Transcripts and/or documentation must provide detailed course descriptions for consideration of
      transfer of credits;
       Details of transcripts and/or documentation must be provided by school administrator, director, or
      other school official;
       Provide original application plus seven copies of your application including all supporting
       State Law Course Requirements (Checklist)
       175 hours of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and contraindications to massage therapy;
       225 hours of technique;
       25 hours of hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, and heliotherapy;
       25 hours of hygiene and infection control;
       25 hours of massage therapy law, business management, and professional ethics; and
       25 hours of related subjects as approved by the board.

      Also – here are the required documents that ALL applicants must to send to the Board with their applications.
      Required Documentation (Checklist)
       Completed Application;
       $180.00 Cashier‟s Check or Money Order;
       Valid Photo Identification: Driver‟s License, State-issued ID Card, Passport, or US Military ID; (I assume this is a copy!)
       Copy of High School Diploma and/or Transcript, College Diploma and/or Transcript, or GED;
       TB Test – Must be issued by a qualified medical doctor (excluding Chiropractors) on Official
      Letterhead, Clinic Form, or Health Card;
       Massage School Diploma;
       Massage School Transcript;
       MBLEx Score Report; and
       Have you submitted your application for your Criminal Background Check?

      Now, it looks like the NCE exam is not accepted. I would contact the Board and ask them if they make exceptions, but it looks unlikely. I would plan on taking the MBLEx or the Arkansas Board Exam. I know, not the best news – but, you can do it!

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. Feel free to email the Board. I always find that to be helpful!

  3. Lacresha says

    Does the sate of Nevada accpet the MBLEX test? Also I live in Maopa Nevada an hour away from Saint George Utah how do i go about getting lincence in Utah or Nevada. I was hoping to have the best of both worlds.. Can that happen for me???

  4. Deborah says

    Hello Ivy,

    i was told by my school that since I have been out of school for awhile I can not finish to graduate. I only have 70 more hours to graduate out of 580 that I completed. They said I would have to pay another tuition and take the entire course all over again. I have been trying to speak to staff to see if I can graduate, but they have told me that they can only release to me my 580 hours. They said I will still be able to take the NCETMB and the NCETM because I have over 500 hours. But is that true? Will they alone accept my hours without a graduation certificate?

    • says

      This I am not sure about. You can definitely take the MBLEx. I would think you would be able to take the NESL which is administered by the NCBTMB. You may be able to take the NCETMB/NCETM, but I really think they want you to be completed with school. Maybe not. I would call the NCBTMB and they can give you a definite answer. Sorry I do not have a better answer for you!

  5. krista says

    I am in Missouri and took the mblex. You stated that there is no need to renew or have CEU’s. Maybe its different in every state but here in Missouri you have to have 12 CEUs every 2 years and pay to renew your license rather you take the nationals or mblex.

    • says

      Hi Krista,

      It is a great comment. I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. But I know others who have been confused about the difference between MBLEx and State CEU requirements. So, I want to clarify this for others.

      I had one lady that emailed me because her coworker believed that just because she took the MBLEx that she did not have to take CEUS to renew her State massage license. Like taking the MBLEx gave her a special pass ouf of needed CEUS to renew her license.

      What I meant by that comment is that one does not need to take any CEUS to keep up a “MBLEx credential” (which does not exist) or renew anything. People who take the NCETMB and want to maintain their NCTMB credential must take 48 hours of CEUS every 4 years.

      Each state is different. Most do require CEUS every renewal. It is just that people who took the MBLEx do not to renewal anything additional with the FSMTB (MBLEx administrators). They only need to keep up with their state requirements like you stated. Someone who takes the NCETMB and wants to keep their NCTMB credential would need to send CEU hours into their state and the NCBTMB.

      Does that make sense?

  6. Emme says

    Hi, I have just graduated from massage school and am trying to figure out which test I should take to practise in Florida. Is it worth it to have the NCBTMB credential or should I go with the MBLEr which sounds easier and simpler? Also, what other steps do I need to do to get licensed?

    Many thanks for your guidance in this!

  7. Alvi says

    Hi, I have my Advanced Massage Therapy Certificate from Massachusetts from 2007. I never got my national certification nor my License to practice massage. I now live in North Carolina, and am thinking of going through with the process and hopefully start working for someone as a Massage Therapist. My question is, I’m not sure what tests/certifications, etc I’d need to take/NC requires. Do I need to become nationally certified or just get my NC license to practice MT? I’m confused as to what I need to take, (NCETMB, MBLEx, NCBTMB, state exam)?? Please help me, i’m so confused. Thanks!! :)

    • says

      Hi Alvi,

      Here is a link I found from the NC Board…

      Here is what is says basically –

      1. You need 500 hours of previous training from a school that was approved in Mass.
      2; Applicants who graduated from an out-of-state school must provide proof of passing one of the following exams:
      The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
      The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB)
      The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
      NESL options for the NCETMB and NCETM
      The Asian Bodywork Therapy Examination (ABTE) offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)

      So, you do need to pass one of the exams before you get a license. Typically, I suggest the MBLEx in this situation. Being nationally certified does not replace the need for a state licence.

      So, look at the application on the NC site. Then I would start preparing for the licensing exam you want to take (here is my exam prep). You will also need to contact your school about getting a transcript sent to the NC Board at some point.

      I hope this helps clear some things up for you!

  8. Kim says

    Hi Ivy,

    I have been licensed in Florida since 1993, at which time I also took what I believe was the first NCETMB exam. I have faithfully renewed with NCBTMB each year, but I’m considering not continuing. I moved out of Florida once for four years, but do not foresee that happening again. I just wanted to bounce this off of someone else, in case there’s a reason I haven’t thought of that I should keep that certification. Your opinion?

    Thanks, and I’m glad I found your courses and your blog!

    • says

      Hi Kim,

      Hmm… I hate to give advice on this because of the less than 1% chance that you may need it someday. Unless you can think of a job that may required it, I would not worry about it expiring. Your test scores stay valid even if your “certification” lapses. Most states want your test scores and do not care if your certification is up to date. My certification is up at the end of this month, and I also will not be renewing. I could not think of a reason to keep it either.

      Please let me know if you have any questions or problems with the courses 😉 Take Care!!

  9. Velvett says

    Hi I graduated at Arizona school of Massage Therapy 2009 and my licensed expired the end of 2011 and I haven’t worked as a massage therapy at all. Can I still continue working as a massage therapist and where can I take my CE exam and which one?

    • says

      Hi Velvett,
      I highly, highly doubt you can legally work as a massage therapist now. You need to contact the AZ Board of Massage and ask them exactly what you need to do to get your license active again. Since it has not lapsed for more than 2 years, you may just need to get up to date on your CE hours instead of reapplying. I believe you need 25 for renewal (plus your lapsed time). Please top back and let me know what you find out. I can help you from there too.

      • Velvett says

        Hello there again I have contact AZ board of massage and asked them about what I need to do to renew my license and they have told me since Im almost two years late renewing that I will need to pay $135 and complete my CE exam. But where can I take my CE exam?

        • says

          I have no idea what they mean by “CE Exam”. Do they mean just complete your CE requirements? You may need to call them back and have them elaborate on that one a little more. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

  10. Sandra says

    Hi Ivy, Here is a good one for you. I was licensed as Mt in TX back in 2004 when it was just 308 hrs. Practiced for 4 years. Moved to AZ with husbands jobs, and here at that that time, it was 500 hrs. I thought I be smart and go for my Esthetics License(skin care)…The license went up to 500 and I let it lapsed in 2007, another words, I didn’t renew.

    Well this little bird in my head keeps telling me, do your massage. So I went back to school, and got my 500+ hrs…AZ is now 700 hrs, and soon to be 750. My dilemma is this…what do you think of me going for my NSEL test, and with this one, in 2 years we can be Nationaly Certified, my question to you is, can we test in any state? I have 2 homes, 1 here in AZ, the other, for a short time, Ohio. Which I don’t plan on it getting it there since they are governed by the Medical Board, a whole other world. What is your feeling on this if you were me?

    I know the MBlex is a liitle more money, but for me, the NESL with the opportunity to be Nationaly Certified makes better sense. Does it to you?

    Thanks and if it this note sounds confusing, I’m sorry. Sandra

    • says

      Hi Sandra

      Wow! You have really kept yourself !

      Well, we may not agree, but I would go for the MBLEx. The NESL is actually not offered any longer by the NCBTMB – You can still take the NCETMB from them though.

      The MBLEx is a little bit more money, but in the long run, you will pay more to keep up your national certification. What exactly would you use the national certification for, or how would it help you and your business? I want to make sure I am not missing something. Your MBLEx scores can be sent to most states if you move, and most importantly, get you a state massage license.

      Plus, Ohio accepts the MBLEx now and you could use it to get your license there too- they do not just accept their own exam now.

      You can take the NCETMB and MBLEx in any state. Both are given at PearsonVue centers. You can look it up to see which one is nearest to you.

      Now, I hope I have not confused you! Let me know what you think.

  11. Andrea says

    Hello thank you for the great help and advice that you give, I graduated massage school in 2007 and got my diploma in Florida 500 hours, I did not went forward in taking my licensure exam, I want to know if I can still take the exam to become license is there a time frame from wen you finish school to take the test, I have been calling my massage school for information but the school has been closed down, what exam do you think will be best for me to take since I have been out of school for so long, please help I really need to get license thank you.

    • says

      Hi Andrea,

      Yes, you can still take the exam. Anytime. There is no time frame for that.

      I honestly believe the MBLEx would be your best option for getting your FL license. Then NCE would get you your license too, but you do not need the credential in FL. So, I would just go with the MBLEx licensing exam. It is very easy to apply for and schedule.

      As far as your school… They should have given someone your records. Do you know the school administrator or anyone who worked there. I would contact them and try to find out where the records are. If not, call the FL Board of Massage and ask them what to do about your transcript and see if they still have it on file (if you applied back in the day).

      You will likely need to take the 3 courses required by FL again. I deal with helping people get their FL licenses every day. Here is a checklist I made for them. If you have any questions, let me know. I also have a link on there for my MBLEx study guide and practice questions.

  12. carole says

    Hi, I appreciate your site and your information
    Can you tell me this…my daughters are graduating in Louisiana in Aug 2013 and are preparing to take a certification test…I guess that is where MBLEX and NCB whatever comes in.
    I see where there are only a few states that do not accept MBLEX. My daughters are considering working for the actors/movies which move around from state to state…we are confused as to what we would do to practice…get license in Louisiana? Then what if the movie company asks them to do a massage in California? can they do that…In other words, do you need to apply for a license for every state you work in?

    • says

      Hi Carole,

      I know this is not the answer you are hoping for… But yes, you do need a license in every state you will be massaging/working. There are a few states that do not require licenses, but those are few an far between right now. And some states have exemptions for MT’s working with traveling sports teams, but I have not seen other exclusions (e.g. actors).

      It is not hard to have a license in a couple states. I have an Iowa license and a Florida license. And I know many others who have more than one state license as well. They would just need to pick where they think they will be doing the most work, research the requirements, and obtain those licenses ahead of time.

      You can view the MBLEx prep material I offer here –

      I hope this helps them prepare.

  13. Gabriel Carr says

    Hi Ivy,

    I’m in Houston and I’m about to finish school but I’m not sure what test I should take.MBLEX, NCETM OR NCETMB ?? and what is the diference btw NCETM and NCETM ?
    After taking the test I’m going to move to St. Louis MO for two years and then move again but not sure where until the time comes. Thank you.


    • says

      Hi Gabriel,

      I typically recommend the MBLEx, because it is easy to schedule and a straight forward exam. The difference between the NCETMB and NCETM is the “B” one has Eastern/Asian theory (just a little). The NCETM is comparable to the MBLEx.

      They are all licensing exams and will get you a massage license in most states.

      I hope that helps.

  14. tammie says

    I have worked as a licensed Physical Therpist Assistant since 1986. During that time and depending on site of practice, ie…hopital and sports clinic. I have had the opportunity to provide massage during treatment. I have also done massage on various family and close friends, granted for specific complaints and such. My question is, can I, as a PTA take the license exam for massage without taking the course? Is that “legal”?

    • says

      Hi Tammie,

      It is unlikely that you could sit for the NCETMB. It depends on your PTA training and how much massage education it included. My guess is that it would not be enough to sit for it.

      Anyone can sit for the MBLEx. Anyone. This may seem crazy, but just passing the MBLEx or NCETMB is not enough to get you a license in most states. Most states want proof of massage education (generally in specific areas) in addition to successful completion of an entry level exam.

      Which state are you located in?

  15. Chechita says

    Hi Ivy,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for all the helpful information you have in your blog. Second, I’m wondering if there is any difference between the NCBTMB and NCBTM Licence?
    I live in FL, and I just finished my education in Massage Therapy. While I was about to schedule my appointment for the test, I found out about these 2 tests. I’m now a little confuse on which one I should take, or if it’s the same thing.

    I would really appreciate if you can answer my question.


  16. chrissy says

    i have a massage license in north carolina and i need to transfer it to ohio and i cant find any step by step instructions to do so. can you please help? and also, the Mblex will not allow you to work in other countries? must you take the NCTEMB?

  17. Kelly says

    Do you think the study guides through are worthwhile?

    Do you recommend any other resources?

    I’m planning on signing up for the MBLEx in the next day or two and would also like to use a study guide of some kind.

    Thank you,

  18. kimberly says

    Hi, wondering….can I still take the MBLEX in Texas
    if I finnished Massage School 3 years ago? I’ve taken
    it once right after I graduated but failed by a few questions.
    Would I have to repeat massage school again since its
    Been so long?

    • says

      Hi Kimberly,

      You can take the MBLEx anytime – before you complete school, or 20 years later. You should not need to repeat massage school. Did you go when Texas was 500 hours, or back when it was a 300 hour requirement? If it was three years ago, I think they were all 500 hour. You should be fine if you have that many hours completed. If you only have 300 hours, I would contact the state board in TX.

      MBLEx Practice Questions and Study Guide


  19. Wesley Byrd says


    It would appear that both tests are now 125 questions, with NCBTMB $10 cheaper at $185. Any other thoughts comparing test content / difficulty?


  20. Wesley Byrd says


    It would appear that both tests are now 125 questions, with NCBTMB $10 cheaper at $185. Any other thoughts comparing test content / difficulty?

    ps – from Portland OR

  21. Tracy says

    I’m having trouble finding what I need to do to become licensed again? I was national licensed and certified until 2009 and I graduated in 2004. I don’t know what I need to do again for Utah. Do you have an advice?

    • says

      I would contact the Board of Massage in Utah. Generally you will need to reapply if it has been a while. If it has not been too long, you may only need to show proof of completing CE courses while you have been inactive. Best wishes!

  22. Deena Nehring says

    Hi. I am looking to re-activate my license (I originally acquired my massage license in 1999 took and passed the NCETMB exam etc etc). I practiced as an LMT up until 2005, then I went back to college to become a RN. I placed my LMT license in “non-active status” in 2006. I would like to re-activate my license now and contact my state board (Iowa) and was told that in addition to completing the required CEU hours I would also need to re-take the exam to re-active my massage license and sent me links/info on the various tests offered now (which wow there are handful of choices it seems). I am not sure which exam should I take? It sounds like the MBLEx might be the way to go for simply re-activating my license, but I am not really sure to be honest. Everything has changed so much in the massage world since I was practicing, so I am confused to which exam I should take. Any advice on this issue? Thanks =)

    • says

      Hi Deena,

      First, I would call and ask someone else at the Iowa board office why you need to retake an examination. I have not heard of anyone needing to retake an exam that is still accepted before. I really see no reason for it. Let me know what they say. Good luck.

      • Deena Nehring says


        Yeah I thought that too… but I have spoken to Iowa Board twice (I myself didn’t believe it when they told me the first time that I would have to retake the exam lol so called and asked for somebody else)…and was told the same thing and I now also have email conformation (the 2nd lady sent me the info so I could read it with my own eyes I guess LOL). Anyway, I was told that if a license is in the “in-active” status for 5 or more years, then you must retake the exam to reactive it (less than 5yrs you do not)….in addition I must complete 24hrs of CEUs and of course I have to pay for is the license renewal itself and also the exam cost, but no fines/fees for reactivating (which sort of surprised me).

        On a side note, she did mention that since I am a licensed Registered Nurse, that if I was doing massage therapy as well as nursing, then I would not even have to bother with my massage license because my RN license would cover the massage part as well…. but then said that if I want to practice only massage therapy (outside of being an RN, advertise as an LMT and open shop etc etc) then yes I have to reactive my LMT….which is confusing really if you ask me lol.

        Thank you for you reply =) I still might call them one more time and ask again because I agree with you, even though I have an email with the info, it still just doesn’t sound right lol.

    • CAROLE says

      Not sure if it would help…we live in Louisiana…took the MBLEX and it was not as easy as folks say, so if this was hard, then I assume the other test is harder…passed the first time tho…right out of college…

      • Deena Nehring says

        Thanks for the reply, Carole. And yeah, I can still recall taking the National exam way back when…and recall saying I never wanted to do that again! LOL So then what do I do? go and put myself through a 6 hour exam for my RN license so many years later, lol. Oh well…

        Well hopefully since I survived the NCETMB once already (as well as the RN exam too lol) I will pass it yet again. (unless of course I find out I don’t need to even take it…which would be nice but yeah not holding my breath).

        Thanks for the reply. I think I’ll go for the MBLEX though this time. =)

  23. Lorraine says

    Hi Ivy,

    I just came across your post and was wondering, I graduated from Concorde career institute in portland oregon with my massage therapy certificate, in 2007- 2008 I believe. So some time ago. But I never went ahead and took my test for my licensing for it. I thought after a time I had missed the time frame and could no longer take the test without retaking the whole schooling and paying for it all over again since it had been so long out of school, but I was wondering now is that not true? If it is still possible do you know what test I would need to take or if I would have to retake classes? Thank you for your time.

    • says

      Hi Lorraine,
      Unless you state law changes (they increased the hour requirements), there is no need for you to go back to school. And there is never a time limit on when you can take boards. It can be the day after graduation or many, many years later.

  24. Mara says

    Alright so I have just graduated from massage therapy school in Indiana and though they gave us lots of information on certifications and all im still not at an understanding of what all I need to do. I have done some research on both the MBLEx and NCBTMB and im really leaning towards the MBLEx but what/or how do I find out all requirements for Indiana? or other states as well? im trying to plan ahead as much as I can because I know I will be leaving the Indiana within the next year or 2 but really want to get started on my massage carrier….help?!

    • says

      Visiting the state massage board site on where you want to move is typically a good place to start (unless it is Florida then my other website,, is a good place to start. For Indiana, visit: On this page they list they accept. For other states search “(state you want to move to) massage therapy board”.

      If you decide to take the MBLEx, my study guide and practice questions has helps many, many people pass their state boards with confidence ( Please let me know if you have any other questions as you prepare.

  25. A. White says

    So glad I found this blogg! I’ve Been out of Massage Therapy school since 2005. I am reinstating my license in Georgia and one of these test are required to get my license. I am currently studying for the NCTMB. I have started to study the Massage Review Publication by Michelle Phillips. Will studying this book help me pass the MBLEx as well or do you think it’s only design for the NCTMB? What is your opinion?

    Thank you so very much!

    • says

      Good Evening!

      I am not sure about that guide. I am sure if it is up-to-date on the material included on the exams and current massage textbooks, it should be fine. I believe that you can also use an MBLEx guide to pass the NCETM and vice versa. I have had several people use my exam prep to pass the NCETM even though I gear it towards the MBLEx.

      Best wishes!


  26. harderthanIthought says

    I live i North Carliona and I have not taking any massage classes yet but do want to get in them. Which test can i take to help me start practicing without license? what states allow you to get license without the 500 some hours and all that? Is there a exam I can take that can atleast let me start doing massages as a therapist with going through the long year course? What can online massge schools do for me if i get the diploma, where can i use that at?

    • says

      There are two parts to getting a license: the hour requirement (generally 500) and the exam (e.g. the MBLEx). You can not generally work legally with just one of them. You need to complete both steps and apply for a license. Once you have your license, you can start legally practicing and charging for a massage.

  27. Laurel says

    Hi Ivy,

    I am looking to take the MBlex in the next few months. It’s been slightly difficult to find proper study material. So far I think I am settling with MassageExamAcademy, would you recommend that one? or any others? How long should I study before I apply for a testing date? I need to have the test passed before the end of this year. Thank you so much for all the fantastic information you put out on your site. It’s so helpful!! Keep up the great work!

    • says

      Hi, Laural!

      I do recommend It is actually my site :) and I wrote all the material. If you have any questions as you study, let me know. I also work on it every day and always love suggestions on how to make it better. It is my newest site, and I really like helping people with this step.

      Each person is different. For people right out of school, 45 days is plenty! For those that have been out of school for a while, 1-3 months is usually enough. Massage school is about double that, and I do not like people to take too long to study. Some people are too afraid of failing and put it off when they shouldn’t.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns, you can email me at or

  28. maryann says

    Hi there! I graduated in 2008 in georgia and took the NESL. Is that still valid? I currently live in colorado and want to get my license here. Do I need to take the MBLEX still? Thanks!

  29. Stephanie A says

    OK I graduated massage therapy school in Florida In may of 2013 . I took my mblex at the same time but I never got licensed I Now live in Michigan. how do I go about getting Licensed

  30. Kelly says

    I graduated from Massage school sometime 2000 or 2001. I took my boards and was licensed in VA and worked as a massage therapist up until 2006, I let my license expire in 2009. What would I have to do to get my license again since they have been inactive for over 4 years?

    • says

      I would contact the VA Board and ask for the best directions on what to do next. It may be as simple as showing proof of continuing education and paying renewal/reactivation fees. Or you may need to redo the application process.

  31. Allison says

    Hi! This blog has been so helpful, but I’ve been reading about all these tests for so long now that my head is spinning.

    I graduated from a 541 hour massage school in WA back in 2010 and I remember taking the “state” test vs the “national” test.

    I’m planning on moving to California in the new year and I’m wondering if I’m going to need to take a test to be licensed in that state considering how much all the laws have changed since I graduated?

    Any insight/advice is appreciate!

    Thanks so much :)

  32. Heather says

    Hello, just a quick question for you. I attended Massage Therapy school, took the MBLEx, passed, but never got my license; life happened before I could. My question is what do I do to get my license? I live in Missouri and took the test about 5 years ago; what can I do now that life has settled down?

    • says

      I would apply to the Board of massage. You will likely need to provide them with a transcript from your school and have the FSMTB send proof of your passing MBLEx scores. Check out the MO Board of Massage Website. Your process will be very similar to anyone just graduating. Best of luck!

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