Choosing Massage Continuing Education Courses or Massage CEU
Home Study vs Seminars
Not everyone takes massage continuing education for the same reasons. Many practitioners enjoy the comradery of being with other massage therapists. Others like learning new techniques and skills that add variety to the massage practice. A few only take continuing education because they have to in order to renew their license.
Regardless of why you are taking massage CEUS, massage credits, continuing education courses, or whatever they are calling them these days; chances are you have thought about whether to take them online or in a seminar.
First I will answer a couple of common questions about home study courses:
Do home study credits really count?
Most states and the NCBTMB allow home study credits for renewal. Some states, such as my home state Iowa, only allow six hours of home study credits for massage therapists. States like Florida and Texas allow twelve hours of approved provider credit. As far as I know, Arkansas is the only state that does not allow any home study credits.
How does the home study process work?
It is actually quite simple. First, purchase the course you want to take in the desired format. Often you can choose to take the classes online, download an eBook, or wait for your textbook in the mail. You will be given an exam, typically open book, to complete when you have finished your course. Upon successful completion, you will receive your certificate and/or transcript in the mail, or it may even download to your computer
What are the advantages and disadvantages, or gains and losses, of seminar and home study continuing education?
As a massage continuing education provider (both home study and seminars) and massage practitioner, I am going to try to provide information on each formant.
Advantage – Home study
There are no other commitments to schedule around, no time to schedule off work, or need to find someone to watch your children or pets. You can work at home in your pajamas, at the office between your clients, or in your favorite corner coffee shop.
For those, like me, who live in more rural areas, home study courses allow you to take classes you would have otherwise have to travel hundreds of miles to take. I understand most instructors would prefer to meet their students for massage credits in paradise instead of Iowa. It is not cost effective or convenient for instructors to travel all over country either.
As a home study provider, I can also verify that there are quite a few license-renewing procrastinators out there. I hear this a lot – “My licenses expires in a month, I need this class completed soon”. Online classes are offered 24 hours a day. With downloadable eBook courses, massage CE courses can be finished in a few days or few months depending on the learner and their schedule, not the instructor’s.
Advantage – Tie
Seminar classes are not better than home study and vice versa. I have taken some good, and some not-so-good, CE courses in both home study and seminar formats. Both home study and seminar courses need to have great materials and be presented in a clear manner. Seminar instructors can often be quite inspiring. I have also been to seminars where I watched the clock and at times it seemed to be going backwards. I have especially grown tired a weary of home study courses that write an exam from a book they did not author. I feel can I buy the book from Amazon and spend my valuable CEU fees somewhere else. I like original material and insights for home study and seminars. I have also taken some home study courses that were presented in a clear manner and taught me a great deal of new skills.
Colleague Interaction – Feedback
Advantage – Seminars
I was an AMTA member my first few years in practice before I hopped over to try ABMP. I enjoyed everything about ABMP except they had no fall and spring conventions. I looked forward to those get-togethers with colleagues.
Like I say on my website, due to the hands on nature of massage I realize not all classes are best suited in a home study format. The hands-on experience of kinesthetic course are invaluable. Not because the classes are so much better, but the colleague feedback and interaction is the best part of seminar courses! Few others understand the life of a busy massage therapist like another busy massage therapist. I look at www.massageprofessionals.com as a great colleague interaction site. It is a fantastic place to meet, learn, discuss, and see you are not alone in the massage world. It still lacks face-to-face and work-on-each-other colleague feed back we need as massage practitioners. I missed this interaction so much, I rejoined AMTA as a supporting member and still go to the conventions, even if it is just for lunch.
I think we can all agree massage therapy is not rocket science- it is mostly common sense. The NCBTMB recently ceased its proctored exam requirements for kinesthetic home study classes. They must have realized most massage therapists are competent enough to watch a video and learn massage techniques. Most practitioners can look at techniques on a video as well as they can sitting in a class and listening to instruction. Instructors can give you tips and fine tune, but how much of your learning is actually personally supervised before they send you home to your new practice?
In a home study format you should have good email and phone support from you colleague/instructor in case you need them to answer any questions you have or if you need to provide any feedback on the course.
Advantage – Tie
Seminars are an intense. There is often a lot of great information thrown at you in a short amount of time and some of this can slip through the cracks. There are many people who learn best from seeing courses presented in person. For these learners, seminars are a must. Some also find reading a manual can be a little boring and difficult to comprehend; while other enjoy having the information in front of them to take their time to read through (sometimes several times) .
Cognitive courses make ideal home study courses. I always use the six hours I get to take in home study formats to complete my massage ethics requirements. Other courses make good home study classes includes: aromatherapy (if you have oils), business / marketing, any ethics or law courses, mandatory reporter courses, and other non-hands-on classes.
My dad in his thirty seventh year of practice when he took his first home study class. I asked my mom why she thought he was so nervous. She said he had not taken a written test in his thirty-seven years of continuing education courses. Like most massage seminars, attendance is all that is necessary for most other professionals. Afterward he said he paid attention and learned more in that class than he had in most seminars.
This brings me to exams. I have fielded many questions from practitioners asking if our home study exams are difficult. As I tell them, they are open book, hopefully challenging, and we have not set you up to fail. All instructors want you to learn and succeed.
Advantage – Home Study
Per credit hour home study classes tend to be more competitively priced. There is no income lost from time off and no travel-related expenses (hotel, gas, airline, food, and entertainment) for students or instructors. This creates lower prices for everyone. However, traveling for a CE course does create a educational and tax-deductible getaway. That is a great benefit!
Often home study providers will provide money back guarantee if you do not like the class materials when they arrive. This is something seminars rarely are able to offer. There are great seminar values out there, but home study courses in general are more affordable for obvious reason listed above.
Choosing a Massage Continuing Education Course
Here is a list of questions you should ask before taking a home study or seminar CE course:
Is this a class I would be interested in taking?
Try to take classes you find appealing and not just because they are close, available, or cheap. Consider taking an online course instead of a seminar if you do not like the seminars being offered in your area. For those in rural areas, there may be less of a selection of CE courses, so plan well ahead of your renewal.
How will this class benefit my business?
Will this class improve you as a practitioner? Will it benefit your existing clients or help you further build your business?
Is this class required for my job or license renewal?
Ethics courses are typically the only required courses for most massage professionals. Quite a few states also require a certain amount of hands-on CEU hours.
This this course approved by my state, jurisdiction, or the NCTMB?
Reiki, energy work, etc are not always considered valid continuing education credits. Also, many states limit the number home study credits are you allowed during each renewal.
Who is the instructor?
Who is the instructor? Are they qualified to be teaching this class? How is the communication with the instructor?
When is the class?
Are you available for the date of class?
What is the location?
Will you need to travel? Will this require staying in a long car ride, airline tickets, hotel, or time off work?
What is the cost?
Can you afford this class? Will this class end up paying for itself by drawing more business? Are there other costs associated with this class (selling products to you)? Is there a deposit? Is it refundable if you or instructor cancels?
How many CE credits, or CEUS, is this course?
How many credits do you or will you need? Do you also need to renew your NCTMB certification?
Bottom line: Continuing education is a great way to learn, build your business, and communicate with other practitioners. Take a look at the increasing number of choices out there for continuing education in both seminar and home study format. Contact the provider or your state board if you have any questions about the courses or your continuing education requirements.
Have fun and make your credits count!
Advanced Massage Techniques
www.advancedmassagetechniques.com. 10% of all our online purchases go to charity (Massage Therapy Foundation and Smile Train).