Practice Management Tips

Getting Your Massage Therapy Business License

updated on

March 26, 2023

Massage therapy license

Massage therapy is a rewarding career in a thriving industry. The wellness industry is growing at a rapid pace, with no signs of slowing down in the future. Massage therapists have a significant impact on people’s lives and overall well-being. Plus, they earn a good living, have flexible hours, and many work for themselves. If you’re considering starting a massage business, you need a license to practice massage therapy, a business license, a business plan, and much more.


In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to get a massage therapy license
  • How to get a business license for your massage therapy business
  • How to start a massage therapy business


Which Do You Need: A Massage Therapy License or Business License?

A massage therapy license is NOT a business license. A massage therapy license is a professional certification. A business license is a permit to run a business. Some massage therapists need both.

You need a massage therapy license if

  • You are employed as a massage therapist
  • You are a self-employed massage therapist


Your massage therapy license must be on display inside the business you work in (or on your person if it’s a mobile massage business). You should also display your massage therapy license number on invoices to patients, especially if insurance is paying. You can add your license number to invoices automatically with ClinicSense.

You need a business license for massage therapy if

  • You own a business that offers massage therapy,
  • You’re employed as a massage therapist, AND you have a side hustle seeing your own massage clients 


A business license is a permit to operate a business inside a specific jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has different regulations. Check with local government departments to find out what’s required in your area, and check with your local SBA office.


  • At a minimum, you must register your business with the city. 
  • If you’re required to collect sales tax, get a vendor’s license from the county or state your business is in. 
  • If you operate under a business name or want to create an LLC, register that through the state. 
Business license vs massage therapy license

4 Steps To Get Your Massage Therapy License

A massage therapy license is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a license to practice massage therapy. It’s proof that you have the proper training, knowledge, and skill set to do the job of a massage therapist.


You need a massage therapy license, no matter where you work. If you’re getting paid to provide massage therapy, you must have a license to practice massage therapy. You can’t provide massage therapy without it. 


Follow these steps to get your massage therapy license.

1. Find out what the requirements are in your area. Each state has its own regulations and requirements for obtaining a massage therapy license. The AMTA has a state-by-state guide that outlines the requirements for each state. Use that to find out what’s required where you live.

2. Go to an accredited school. Find a massage school in your area, and enrol in a massage therapy program. Each state requires a specific number of education hours. That varies between 500 and 1,000 hours. Required courses are usually massage therapy and anatomy and physiology. Some states have additional courses and modalities you must study as well. Most programs require hands-on practice in a student clinic or an internship before you graduate.

3. Pass the required exam. Once you graduate from school, you must pass an exam to receive your massage therapy license. Many states use a national exam like the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Some states have their own licensing board.

4. Maintain your license. Massage therapy licenses are not free. You must apply to receive your license and then renew it annually. Depending on where you live, you may be required to take continuing education to be eligible for renewal.


How to Start a Massage Therapy Business

Once you have your massage therapy license, you can work for someone else, or you can start your own business. It’s a good idea to get a little experience before you branch out on your own. Once you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s how to start a massage therapy business.

Open for business

1. Estimate how much it will cost. Before you dive in, estimate the start-up cost for a massage business. Figure out how much you’ll need to invest just to get the business off the ground. Then, estimate what the monthly expenses for a massage business will be. Once you have those numbers, determine how you’ll finance it: personal funds, loans, or grants for massage therapy.

2. Make a plan. Map out the details of your business by creating a massage therapy business plan. Outline how the business will operate, how you’ll market it, what services and products to sell, and your plan for growth.

3. Find a place to run your business. Massage therapists have a lot of options. You can work out of your home or rent/buy office space. You can start a mobile massage business, seeing clients in their homes. You can even start a corporate chair massage business and see clients at their offices.

4. File the appropriate paperwork. You already have your massage therapy license. Now it’s time to get a business license, create your business name, and register everything you need with the government. The SBA business guide walks you through this process step-by-step.

5. Streamline your processes. Once you’re up and running, you’re bound to have some kinks to work out. Find the easiest way to do each task required of your business, and do it the same way every time. Consistency makes your job easier and your customers happier. Use clinic management software to automate admin tasks. Create a system for cleaning your treatment rooms, marketing your practice, and managing the books. Document your processes so you can train staff to do them later.

6. Grow. Starting a business is just the first step. A successful business requires you to market yourself as a massage therapist. Increasing revenue can involve learning new modalities, selling massage retail products, or getting referrals from other health providers. Once you’ve bulked up your clientele, you can start thinking about when to hire a massage therapist to join your team.

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