How to Become a Massage Therapist in New York City

To become a massage therapist, the state of New York requires new licensees to pass an exam and complete at least 1,000 hours of education, while most states only demand 500 hours. The three primary institutes of massage therapy in New York City are: The Swedish Institute, Reiki Arts Continuum and the American Center for the Alexander Technique.


    • 1

      Be at least 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Complete a CPR course within three years prior to applying for your massage license. Research various massage therapy types (including Shiatsu, deep tissue, sports and Swedish) by studying each technique, asking questions of professionals and even getting massages yourself.

    • 2

      Enroll in a massage therapy program registered by the New York State Education Department and, complete coursework in anatomy, physiology, neurology, myology or kinesiology, pathology, hygiene, first aid, CPR and infection control procedures, according to the Office of the Professions. Also, know the chemical makeup and effects of the products you use. Understand Oriental and Western massage techniques. Complete 1,000 hours of education, including at least 150 hours of practicing on people, before finishing your studies.

    • 3

      Pass the New York State Massage Therapy Examination, given in January or August. According to the Office of the Professions, the test includes four sections: Assessment & Evaluation, Development of a Treatment Plan, Application of Treatment Skills and Professional Responsibilities and Business Practice and Professional Ethics. Fill out an application and pay the registration fee to receive your license.

    • 4

      Explore various work opportunities in the private and public sectors. Contact sports teams, medical clinics, fitness clubs, corporations and even other massage schools about possible openings. Consider returning to school to earn an associate's degree in massage therapy, which will allow you to learn advanced techniques while making you more marketable to potential employers. Some massage therapists may also open their own business.

    • 5

      Build your clientele by volunteering your services with local businesses and individuals. Start with family and friends, and then local businesses to generate a buzz. Join a professional association, such as the American Massage Therapy Association, to continue to grow your network.

Tips & Warnings

  • New York does not require the national exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) or the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB).
  • You will also need a business license if you are interested in starting your own massage therapy practice.
  • Your license must be renewed every three years.
  • Continue getting massages, so you can learn new techniques.
  • Practicing without a license can lead to fees and/or penalties.
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  • Photo Credit massage image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

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