Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

Q: What does CAMTC do?

California Massage Therapy Council’s mission is to protect the public by certifying massage professionals in California that meet the requirements in the law, and approving massage programs that meet the minimum standards for training and curriculum.

Specifically, CAMTC is required by California Business and Professions Code section 4600 et. seq. to:

  1. Create and implement a voluntary certification program for the massage therapy profession that will enable consumers to easily identify credible Certified Massage Therapists (CMTs);
  2. Ensure that certified massage professionals have completed sufficient training at approved schools; and
  1. Approve massage school program. As of July 1, 2016, CAMTC only accepts education from massage school programs that have been CAMTC approved.

Q: What is the difference between a license and a certificate?

A “license” is a document issued by the state and is mandatory for the individual to obtain before they can work in their profession in the state.  The State of California does not license the massage profession. The California Massage Therapy Council, a private nonprofit corporation, issues voluntary certifications to massage professionals that meet the requirements in the law. Certification is voluntary, and CAMTC certification is not required by state law in order for a massage professional to practice their profession in the state, though many massage professionals find CAMTC certification useful.  CAMTC certification is the only credential for massage professionals that is recognized by state law.

The California Business and Professions Code section 4611 makes it an unfair business practice for anyone not certified by CAMTC to use the titles: Licensed, Certified, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner, CMT, or CMP.

Q: Are there different levels of certification?

As of January 1, 2015, CAMTC only issues new certificates to Certified Massage Therapists ("CMTs"). However, those who are already certified as Certified Massage Practitioners ("CMPs") may continue to be recertified as CMPs.

Q: What does the Certified Massage Therapist or Certified Massage Practitioner title mean?

The Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) or Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP) title signifies to consumers that the CMT or CMP meets or exceeds minimum educational standards established by California Business and Professions Code section 4600 et. seq. and that the massage professional has passed all background checks. Before 2015, in order to be certified as a CMP, a massage professional was required to have a minimum of 250 hours of education, while certification as a CMT required a minimum of 500 hours of education or 250 hours of education and passage of a CAMTC approved exam.  As of January 1, 2015, certification as a CMT requires 500 hours of education and passage of a CAMTC approved exam.

Q: Is there a difference in what a Certified Massage Practitioner and a Certified Massage Therapist can do?

There is no difference in the scope of practice between a CMP and CMT.

Q: Why should I care if my massage therapist is certified?

By choosing a CAMTC Certified Massage Professional, you know that he or she has met the requisite standards of preparation and education to merit their designation. In addition, CAMTC Certified Massage Professionals undergo extensive background checks, fingerprinting and other qualifying criteria. CAMTC can investigate complaints made against certified massage professionals and take action when appropriate.

Q: Does CAMTC also regulate massage establishments?

No,  CAMTC does not have authority over the business of massage or massage establishments. Massage businesses and establishments are typically regulated by the city or county. 

Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

For Applicants:

Q: I am already a locally permitted or licensed Massage Therapist. Why should I certify with CAMTC?

Unless your city or county requires you to be certified, it is your choice. The State of California does not require massage professionals to be certified by CAMTC.  However, many massage professionals find certification to be useful because, as a CAMTC certified massage professional, you will not need a massage therapist permit to provide massage for compensation in any California city or county.

Q: What is the difference between a license and a certificate?

A “license” is a document issued by the state and is mandatory for the individual to obtain before they can work in their profession in the state.  The State of California does not license the massage profession. The California Massage Therapy Council, a private nonprofit corporation, issues voluntary certifications to massage professionals that meet the requirements in the law. Certification is voluntary, and CAMTC certification is not required by state law in order for a massage professional to practice their profession in the state, though many massage professionals find CAMTC certification useful.  CAMTC certification is the only credential for massage professionals that is recognized by state law.

California Massage Business and Professions code, Section 4611, makes it an unfair business practice for anyone not certified by CAMTC to use the titles: Licensed, Certified, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner, CMT, or CMP.

Q: What are the qualifications for certification?

California Business and Professions Code sections 4600 et. seq. designate a number of qualification sets for certification. Applicants must meet the educational requirements in the law, have passed a CAMTC approved exam, have passed a background check, and not violated any provisions of the law.

Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) - New applicants must complete at least 500 hours of massage education and training from CAMTC approved schools, which shall not include online or distance learning, and must also pass a CAMTC approved exam. See the Requirements link on the Home Page for further detail.

Q: How long does the certification process take?

We continue to receive a large number of applications for certification, so please expect the process to take approximately ninety (90) days for COMPLETE applications that have no background or educational issues. A complete application includes a signed and dated application on which complete, true, and accurate answers to all of the questions have been provided, as well as payment, passport photo, copy of government issued ID, original transcripts sent directly from school(s), exam proof sent directly from examining board, and live scan fingerprinting results have been received. Applications with issues, including but not limited to those received from applicants with criminal convictions, civil or administrative citations or where local action has been taken against the applicant, complaints have been made in relation to an applicant's professional conduct, or those with education issues, can take a significantly longer period of time.

Q: Is there a test required to become a CMT in California?

Yes. As of January 1, 2015, all new applicants for CMT and applicants for upgrade from CMP to CMT must pass a CAMTC approved exam. As of January 1, 2015, the CAMTC approved exams are the MBLEx and the BCETMB if taken at any time, and the NCETM or NCETMB if taken prior to February 1, 2015 and New York State Massage therapy Examination.

Q: How much does it cost to get certified?

The current cost for certification is $150.00 for the initial application, which is valid for two years. The cost of recertification for another two-year certification is currently $150.00. These amounts are subject to change.

Q: Will my certification be good everywhere?

Certification with CAMTC entitles you to provide massage services for compensation anywhere in the State of California without needing to obtain a local massage permit. It does not apply outside of California, although it is possible that other states may accept CAMTC certification to help qualify to work in that state.

Q: Can I use my license from another state to get certified?

If your current license is from a state whose licensing requirements meet or exceed CAMTC's requirements for certification, you may be eligible for certification by CAMTC.

Q: My massage training was completed outside the U.S. Will you accept my education hours?

The CAMTC Board of Directors has adopted an official policy on out-of-country transcripts.

Q: If I am enrolled in a massage program that is longer than 500 hours, can I apply for CAMTC certification after I have completed 500 hours of education but before I have completed my entire massage program?

It depends. In order to be certified, CAMTC must receive an original transcript from your school showing that you have met the educational requirements for certification. This includes completion of a minimum of 500 hours of education with 100 of those 500 hours meeting core curriculum requirements (a minimum of 100 hours in anatomy, physiology, contraindications, health and hygiene, and business and ethics). If your school is willing to provide an original transcript to CAMTC showing that you have completed a minimum of 500 hours of education and the core curriculum requirements, even though you have not completed your entire massage program, assuming your school is a CAMTC approved school and there are no other issues, CAMTC will accept that transcript for certification purposes.

Q: If I receive a proposed denial letter, what is the process to challenge the proposed denial?

If the Professional Standards Division, after reviewing your application, determines that it should be denied, you will be sent a letter notifying you of the reasons for the proposed denial. It is very important that you follow the procedures outlined in your letter, including meeting all of the deadlines identified in the letter and communicating with CAMTC through the email address identified in the letter. Applicants who are proposed to be denied certification will be given at least 15 days prior notice of their opportunity to be heard, either orally or in writing. The current fees are: $90 for consideration of a written statement and $135 for an oral hearing - but please be sure to check your letter. If the proposed decision to deny is upheld, it will not become final and effective until at least five days after the opportunity to be heard. The hearing will be held, or the written statement considered, by the Professional Standards Division, which is authorized to determine whether denial of certification should occur. The decision of the Professional Standards Division is final. Click here for more information.

NOTE: An applicant who is denied certification may re-apply for certification TWO (2) YEARS after the effective date of the denial. CAMTC has the information you have previously submitted and it will be considered along with your new application. It's important to submit any NEW evidence or information you have in support of your application. However if you have no additional evidence to submit, or there has not been a relevant change in circumstance, you may be denied again. Please also note, as of January 1, 2017, CAMTC's law has changed and additional basis and changes in procedures for denial and discipline have been made.

For Certificate Holders:

Q: How often do I need to recertify?

CAMTC certification is only for a period of two years. You must apply for recertification every two years.

Certificate Holders may apply for recertification 90-days prior to their expiration date. As a courtesy, CAMTC may send notifications to you, by email and regular mail, reminding you of the need to recertify. Please make sure that you have updated your contact information, including primary email address, within 30 days of any changes to ensure that you receive a reminder of your need to recertify. It is your responsibility, as a certificate holder, to submit a fully completed application for recertification and ensure that it is received by CAMTC before the expiration date listed on your certification. Reminder notifications may be sent to you as a courtesy only, and failure to receive a reminder notification does not waive your responsibility to submit a fully completed application for recertification and ensure that it is received before your current certificate expires.

Certificate Holders who have submitted a complete application for recertification that is received at least 60-days before expiration, with no background issues, should have a new certificate and ID card mailed 5 days or more prior to the date of expiration. If your certificate and ID card have not reached you by 10 days of email notification that it has been approved, please contact CAMTC (info@camtc.org or 916-669-5336) .

The two-year recertification fee is $150.00. Failure to submit a fully completed application for recertification that is received by CAMTC before your certificate expires will result in a late fee of $25 - $90 if the application for recertification is received by CAMTC within six months of your certificate expiring. If a fully completed application for recertification is not received by CAMTC within six months of your certificate expiring, you will be required to apply for certification as a new applicant, and you will have to meet all of the requirements for certification that exist at the time your application is received. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN THIS LATE FEE OR POLICY BE WAIVED.

Q: If I am already certified do I need to pass an exam to recertify?

No, unless your certificate has expired for more than six months.

Q: What if my certification has lapsed?

If you let your certification lapse for less than 6 months, you can recertify by filling out the application and paying the fee plus a late fee.

If your certification has lapsed for more than 6 months, you will need to apply as a new applicant, including submitting new livescan fingerprints and meeting the current educational standards and exam requirement.

 Q: What is the law regarding including my full name and certificate number in advertising?

California Business and Professions Code Section 4608 states:

In addition to the other requirements of this chapter, a certificate holder shall:

   (a) Display his or her original certificate wherever he or she provides massage for compensation. A certificate holder shall have his or her identification card in his or her possession while providing massage services for compensation.

   (b) Provide his or her full name and certificate number upon the request of a member of the public, the council, or a member of law enforcement, or a local government agency charged with regulating massage or massage establishments, at the location where he or she is providing massage services for compensation.

   (c) Include the name under which he or she is certified and his or her certificate number in any and all advertising of massage for compensation. In addition the certificate holder must:

   (d) Notify the council within 30 days of any changes in the certificate holder's home address or the address of any massage establishment or other location where he or she provides massage for compensation, excluding those locations where massage is only provided on an out-call basis. A certificate holder also shall notify the council of his or her primary email address, if any, and notify the council within 30 days of a change of the primary email address.

Q: Can I work under a nickname?

Please be aware that the law now requires that CAMTC certificate holders must provide their full name and certificate number upon request to members of the public, CAMTC, a member of law enforcement, or a local government agency that regulates massage, when he or she is at the location where he or she provides massage for compensation. 

Q. Must I display my certificate and carry my CAMTC ID card at work?  

Certificate holders are required by law to display his or her certificate at each location where they provide massage for compensation. Certificate holders must also have their CAMTC ID card in their possession while providing massage. Certified massage professionals can login to request additional original certificates. NOTE: Currently you must call to order additional certificates (916) 669-5336

Q: How can I get a replacement certificate or CAMTC ID card? 

If you have lost your certificate or CAMTC ID card, you can login for one or both of these items. If you have changed your name, you must re-print your certificate and CAMTC ID card. If you are requesting a reprint of an CAMTC ID card and/or certificate because of a name change, you must send a copy of the divorce or marriage certificate or other legally binding name change document to: CAMTC, One Capitol Mall - Suite 800, Sacramento, CA 95814. By Law, you must display your original certificate at each work location. If you work at more than one location, you may purchase an original certificate from CAMTC for each location. NOTE: Currently you must call to order additional certificates (916) 669-5336

Q: Can I use "massage machines" or other specialized techniques as a certified massage professional?

The Massage Therapy Act does not define the legal scope of practice for certified massage professionals. However, Business and Professions Code section 4601(e) defines massage as, "the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues." It further states that, for the purposes of the Massage Therapy Act, "the terms 'massage' and 'bodywork' shall have the same meaning."

Q: I don’t consider my work to be massage, and do not have training as a massage therapist. My city or county says that I need to be certified.

If you are not certified, your city or county has the right to regulate you as they like. If the definition of massage in the municipal or county code is interpreted by your city or county to include your work, they can require a massage permit or certification.

Q: Can I do Tantric massage or Sexological Bodywork?

If Tantric massage or Sexological Bodywork is practiced in such a way as to involve touch of the sexual organs, it violates the  Massage Therapy Act. Sexual activity on the premises of a massage establishment or during a massage both violate California Business and Professions Code section 4609:

(a) It is a violation of this chapter for an applicant or a certificate holder to commit any of the following acts, the commission of which is grounds for the council to deny an application for a certificate or to impose discipline on a certificate holder:

(1) Unprofessional conduct, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(A) Engaging in sexually suggestive advertising related to massage services.

(B) Engaging in any form of sexual activity on the premises of a massage establishment where massage is provided for compensation,excluding a residence.

(C) Engaging in sexual activity while providing massage services for compensation.

(D) Practicing massage on a suspended certificate or practicing outside of the conditions of a restricted certificate.

(E) Providing massage of the genitals or anal region.

(F) Providing massage of female breasts without the written consent of the person receiving the massage and a referral from a licensed California health care provider. 

Q:  What is sexually suggestive advertising related to massage services?

A:  Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(1)(A) allows CAMTC to base denial and disciplinary decisions on the fact that an individual engaged in “sexually suggestive advertising related to massage services.”  

In order for this section of the law to apply, an applicant or certificate holder must have:

1)  advertised,

2) the advertisement must be related to massage services, and

3) the advertisement must also be sexually suggestive.  CAMTC defines an “advertisement” as a paid advertisement, as opposed to unpaid promotional service.

 Q. What Water based Modalities have been approved by CAMTC?

Effective January 1, 2015, CAMTC may deny an applicant certification or discipline a certificate holder if, while engaged in the practice of massage for compensation or while visible to clients in a massage establishment, the applicant or certificate holder is dressed in swim attire if the water-based massage modality they are providing has not been approved by the Council [Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(10)(A)]. The following water based massage modalities have been approved by CAMTC, so that wearing swim attire while providing these modalities (or while visible to clients in a massage establishment) will not be a violation of Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(10)(A) or CAMTC’s Denial Procedures:     

  • Watsu Massage,
  • Vichy Showers,
  • Hydrotherapy,
  • Swiss Showers
  • Scotch Hose
  • Hydrotherapy tub

The following techniques are offered by some massage therapists as well as other spa service providers. No bathing suit would need to be worn, unless one of the showers above is used to remove the products.

 Body Scrubs -using abrasive products to scrub dead skin off

 Body Wraps - wrapping the body in blankets to warm after a scrub to relax and allow moisterizer to soak in

As always, unprofessional behavior during even these techniques is something that CAMTC would review whether the technique is approved or not. Bathing suits are not worn other than for the application of any of the modalities below, which do not include massage in the wet room.

Q: Can I bill insurance companies for my work?

CAMTC has no authority over insurance law and billing requirements.

Q: If I become certified, will I still need to get a business license?

If you own your own business (which includes being self-employed or operating as an independent contractor), most cities require that you have a business license. Check with the agency in your city that issues business licenses to determine whether one is required - usually the finance department.

Local cities and counties cannot require an individual certified by CAMTC to obtain any other massage permit, to provide massage for compensation. Therefore, if you are a W-2 employee working at another person's business, you do not need a business license. However, cities and counties may require that massage businesses obtain a license, permit, certificate, or other authorization in order to operate.

Q: I have questions about whether I am being paid fairly, or whether I am misclassified as an independent contractor rather than as an employee.

CAMTC has no authority over labor law.

Q: Do I need to take continuing education?

CAMTC certification does not require continuing education in order to recertify.

Q: Can I still use the title HHP?

The HHP certificate from your school carries no legal meaning outside of a city that recognizes the HHP. It was issued by a massage school and reflects a specific level of massage training. If you are not certified by CAMTC, you cannot call yourself or use the initials of a Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), or Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP); but the HHP title is still valid.

 

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

Q: How can I find out what my city or county requires?

Check the website of your city or county and search for the municipal code for massage. You can also try searching www.courtsystem.org. Be aware that the jurisdiction is likely to have both a massage ordinance, regulating the business, and a zoning ordinance, regulating where the business can be located.

Q: Will a city be able to require various permits (other than a city business license) for CAMTC certified massage professionals who want to start their own business and hire/contract with massage professionals if ALL of the massage professionals have certification from CAMTC?

As of January 1, 2015, and again in January 2017 the law applicable to CAMTC certificate holders and massage businesses has changed significantly. The changes in law specify that CAMTC has jurisdiction over individuals (applicants and certificate holders), but jurisdiction over massage businesses is vested in the cities and counties. The fact that all of those who provide massage for compensation on your business premises are certified no longer exempts your business from a city or county's permitting requirements.

However, local cities and counties cannot require an individual certified by CAMTC to obtain any other license, permit, certificate, or other authorization to provide massage for compensation. Cities and counties may require that massage businesses obtain a license, permit, certificate, or other authorization in order to operate. But a city or county's discretion to require other authorizations from massage businesses is not unlimited. Business and Professions Code section 4603.1 states that "Local governments shall impose and enforce only reasonable and necessary fees and regulations on massage businesses and massage establishments, in keeping with the requirements of existing law and being mindful of the need to protect legitimate business owners and massage professionals, particularly sole providers."

On January 1, 2017, this provision was moved from the Intent to the body of the law which makes it directive, and will limit local government to imposing and enforcing “ only reasonable and necessary fees and regulations on massage businesses and massage establishments.”

Additionally, while it is clear that a city or county can impose a requirement for a business license on a massage business (which includes independent contractors or owners of massage businesses), the law does not allow a city or county to impose the requirement for a massage establishment permit or registration with the police for independent contractors or sole providers in certain circumstances. Business and Professions Code section 4601(f) defines a "massage establishment" or "establishment" as a "fixed location where massage is performed for compensation, excluding those locations where massage is only provided on an out-call basis." Government Code section 51034(c)(9) provides that cities and counties may not "impose a requirement that an individual holding a certificate issued in accordance with Chapter 10.5 (commencing with Section 4600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, obtain any other license, permit, certificate, or other authorization to provide massage for compensation. However, this paragraph shall not be construed to prohibit a city, county, or city and county from requiring by ordinance that a massage business or establishment obtain a license, permit, certificate, or other authorization in order to operate lawfully within the jurisdiction." However, Business and Professions Code section 4603.1 makes it clear that cities and counties are only to impose reasonable and necessary fees and regulations. Reading all of these provisions together, it is clear that cities and counties are directed to not impose oppressive and unnecessary requirements for massage establishment permits or registration with the police. In situations where multiple independent contractors are working out of ONE fixed business location, then that is the massage establishment and that is the business that can be required to have a massage establishment permit or register with the police, not each individual working out of that establishment, even if they are each independent contractors or sole providers.

The Government Code 51034 (c )8 states cities and counties shall not be authorized to "Impose a requirement that a person certified pursuant to Chapter 10.5 (commencing with Section 4600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code take any test, medical examination, or background check, including a criminal background check or requiring submission of fingerprints for a federal or state criminal background check, or comply with education requirements beyond what is required by Chapter 10.5 (commencing with Section 4600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code." Government Code Section 51034 Section (c )4 prohibits a city or county from requiring "a massage establishment to have a shower or bath".

You can read the complete law here

If you are opening a new massage business, you will need to comply with zoning, land use, and health and safety regulations in your city or county to the extent that they are not in conflict with the Massage Therapy Act. Check with the agency in your city that issues business licenses, usually the finance or planning department, to see what requirements are applicable to your business. You should also make sure to understand the Massage Therapy Act: California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600-4621, and Government Code section 51034. We are working to achieve consistent implementation of the law throughout the state. If you believe that you are being given erroneous information, or the city or county is not recognizing your certification, or if you have questions regarding business regulations for massage professionals, please contact the Director of Governmental Affairs, Beverly May at bmay@camtc.org.

Q: Can I hire non certified massage providers?

Yes, if the city or county in which your business is located does not require certification then you can hire non certified massage professionals. Check to see if the city requires a local massage permit from them.

Q: I am not certified. My city requires all owners and managers who are not certified to submit to a background check and live scan. Can they do so?

Yes, the city or county has full authority over non certificate holders who own or operate massage businesses, as well as those who provide massage if certification is not required.

Q: Am I responsible for the behavior of the massage providers in my business? What if they are independent contractors and not employees?

Yes.  If you are certified, as the establishment or business owner or operator  (manager) you are responsible for the behavior of all those providing massage for compensation on the premises of your establishment or business, whether W-2 employees or independent contractors (Business and Professions Code section 4607). If you are not certified, most local ordinances also hold you responsible.

Q: I want to start a massage business at a fixed location. What do I need to do?

If you are opening a new massage business, you will need to comply with zoning, building, and health and safety regulations in your city or county to the extent that they are not in conflict with the Massage Therapy Act.

Check with the agency in your city or county that issues business licenses, usually the finance or planning department, to see what requirements are applicable to your business. Read the massage ordinance in the city in which you plan to open your practice. If it is outside of a city in the unincorporated county, read the county massage ordinance.

 You should also make sure to understand the Massage Therapy Act: California Business and Professions Code Sections 460, 4600-4621, and Government Code Section 51034. We are working to achieve consistent implementation of the law throughout the state. If you believe that you are being given erroneous information, or the city or county is not recognizing your certification, or if you have questions regarding business regulations for massage professionals, please contact the Director of Governmental Affairs, Beverly May at bmay@camtc.org.

Q: How do I start a business providing mobile massage?

Check the city or county regulations for massage businesses.  If you will be travelling to multiple cities, in most cases you will need a business license in each one. Check with the business license (generally finance) office to see if they have a threshold of revenue that you must make before they require a business license. Some cities, like Los Angeles, require that you register for a Tax Certificate at no cost. At the end of the year they will base your business license tax on how much revenue your business received in that city. Contact Beverly May at bmay@camtc.org if your city requires that you have an establishment permit to provide off-premises work, or if they prohibit mobile massage.

Q: Can I provide massage in my home?

You should check with your city to see if they have a Home Occupation ordinance, and if so, if your home is in an area zoned for home occupations. You should also read the city or county massage code to see what if any other regulations apply.

Q: I have so many therapists working in my business. Must I display all the certificates on the wall?

Yes.

California Business and Professions Code Section 4608 states:

  1. In addition to the other requirements of this chapter, a

certificate holder shall:

 (a) Display his or her original certificate wherever he or she

provides massage for compensation. A certificate holder shall have

his or her identification card in his or her possession while

providing massage services for compensation.


Q: As a sole provider or independent contractor, must I display my certificate number in advertising?

Yes, you must have your CERTIFICATE NUMBER in any and all advertising, including business cards and websites.

Q: I have a multi therapist facility – must I list all certificate numbers in all ads?

No. The requirement to list the certificate number applies to the individual, not the business.

Q: What other regulations exist pertaining to advertising?

California Business and Professions Code section 4609(a) states that, It is a violation of this chapter for an applicant or a certificate holder to commit any of the following acts, the commission of which is grounds for the council to deny an application for a certificate or to impose discipline on a certificate holder:

(1) Unprofessional conduct, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(A) Engaging in sexually suggestive advertising related to massage services.

 Please also read California Business and Professions Code section 4611 for additional information regarding advertising.

Q: Can we massage minors? If so, do we need a parent or guardian to sign a release or be present in the massage room?

The Massage Therapy Act does not address this issue. You should check with your city or county to see if the local massage ordinance has any requirements pertaining to massage of minors.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

Q: How does the California Massage Therapy Act affect massage schools?

Pursuant to CAMTC’s Policies and Procedures for Approval of Schools, as of July 1, 2016, CAMTC generally only accepts education from California schools specifically approved by CAMTC. Previously, CAMTC did not approve schools. Rather, it accepted education from California schools approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) or other entities listed in California Business and Professions Code section 4601(a), unless the school was otherwise un-approved by CAMTC.

Q: Does my school have to get CAMTC School Approval?

CAMTC School Approval is voluntary. However, as of July 1, 2016, CAMTC generally only accepts education from CAMTC approved California schools for the purposes of CAMTC certification.

Q: Why would I want my school to be CAMTC approved?

As of July 1, 2016 CAMTC generally only accepts education from massage schools in California that have been approved by CAMTC.  While CAMTC certification for individuals is voluntary, the ability to provide education that can be used for CAMTC certification is a significant benefit to your massage students.  Many massage school students want certification because certification:

  • Requires only one certificate to work in the entire state of California;
  • Offers affordable certification fees for massage professionals;
  • Facilitates the ability to qualify for licensure or certification in any of the other 44 states that regulate massage therapy; and
  • Helps to legitimize the massage therapy profession.

Q: Do I still need BPPE approval or other accreditation?

Yes. In order to be approved by CAMTC, schools must already be, and continue to be, either approved by the BPPE, nationally accredited, a California community college, or approved by another entity listed in California Business and Professions Code Section 4601(a). CAMTC approval has no bearing on your approval by BPPE or any other certification or accreditation organizations, and does not replace these other approvals. Schools that have not received CAMTC approval for their massage programs may still operate in the State and provide massage education; CAMTC just will not accept education from those schools for certification purposes on or after July 1, 2016.

Q: Can I get approval for my new school or massage program before I enroll students?

CAMTC does offer a provisional approval for new schools and massage therapy programs. Provisional approval means that your application, submitted documents, and preliminary site visit meet the minimum requirements for being a CAMTC approved school; however, your entire school review has not been completed. Provisional approval is limited to a six-month time period and does not guarantee that your school and programs will ultimately be approved by CAMTC.

Q: What are the educational requirements for a student or graduate to become CAMTC certified?

As of January 1, 2015, new applicants may only apply for certification as a Certified Massage Therapist (CMT). In order to meet the educational requirements in the law for certification as a CMT, an individual must have a minimum of 500 hours of education from CAMTC approved schools. Of those 500 hours, a minimum of 100 hours must be in the core subjects of anatomy and physiology, contraindications, health and hygiene, and business and ethics.

Q: Where does CAMTC get the authority to approve massage schools?

The California Massage Therapy Act specifies that CAMTC develop policies, procedures, rules, and bylaws for the requirements and processes for the approval and un-approval of schools. CAMTC has also been directed to address topics including, but not limited to, the following: "what constitutes an acceptable curriculum, facility requirements, student-teacher ratios, clinical practice requirements, and provisions for the acceptance of accreditation from a recognized accreditation body or other form of acceptance." (Business and Professions Code section 4615(b).)

Q: Why does CAMTC not accept transcripts from some schools?

CAMTC only accepts education from CAMTC approved schools, which are those schools that meet the definition of an "approved school" in California Business and Professions Code section 4601(a). To meet the definition of a CAMTC "approved school," the school must be both "approved by the council" AND approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), nationally accredited, a California community college, or approved by another body listed in California Business and Professions Code section 4601(a).

Q: How does CAMTC determine if a school is "approved"?

The school should read CAMTC’s Policies and Procedures for Approval of Schools to determine eligibility and requirements. A school that is ready to apply must fill out and submit an Application for Massage School Approval in its entirety, pay the application fee and any background check fees, and host at least one site visit by CAMTC inspectors.

CAMTC will, among other things, thoroughly review the school’s application; request additional material if necessary; and inspect, at minimum, the school’s curriculum, instructional delivery, record keeping, and facility during a site visit. CAMTC has the responsibility to determine that the training and curricula massage schools provide meets the legal requirements for applicants to obtain certification, including but not limited to minimum standards for training and curriculum and general education guidelines.

Q: What happens if my school is denied?

Once the application process is completed, your school may receive a letter for approval, provisional approval, corrective action, or proposal for denial. Approval is for two years and provisional approval is for six months. A letter requesting corrective action means the school does not meet the minimum requirements in one or more areas. Usually these are minor and the school is given an opportunity to make corrections in order to be reconsidered for approval.

If your school is proposed for denial, you will have the opportunity to oppose the denial by telephonic hearing or consideration of a written statement. If the proposed denial is upheld, then you will have the opportunity to appeal that decision before the CAMTC Board of Directors. Please see the Policies and Procedures for Approval of Schools for details.

Q: Does the CAMTC Board of Directors have any members representing California Massage Schools?

Yes.  Two seats on the CAMTC Board are reserved for massage educators. One is for the California Association of Private-Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) and one for the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Schools are always welcome at Board meetings or to contact the Board with feedback and suggestions. A schedule of Board meetings can be found on our website under FAQs and General Information. As educators, the future of massage therapy is in your hands.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

Q: What does CAMTC do?

California Massage Therapy Council’s mission is to protect the public by certifying massage professionals in California that meet the requirements in the law, and approving massage programs that meet the minimum standards for training and curriculum.

Specifically, CAMTC is required by California Business and Professions Code Section 4600 et. seq. to:

  1. Create and implement a voluntary certification program for the massage therapy profession that will enable consumers to easily identify credible Certified Massage Therapists (CMTs);
  2. Ensure that certified massage professionals have completed sufficient training at approved school programs; and
  1. Approve massage school programs. As of July 2016, CAMTC only accepts education from massage school programs that have been CAMTC approved.

Q: How does CAMTC check a massage professional's background?

Applicants for CAMTC certification are subject to a rigorous review. Before issuing a certification, CAMTC reviews the applicant's education and professional credentials and conducts a background check. CAMTC requires the submission of fingerprint images and related information to the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to check for potential criminal convictions. Some applications require additional review, including but not necessarily limited to consultations with local law enforcement agencies, investigation of the applicant's education and conduct, and/or interviews with applicants.

CAMTC receives current and subsequent arrest notification services as provided under section 11105.2 of the Penal Code. CAMTC requires applicants to self-report convictions, any administrative or civil action against a local permit, or other professional permits or licenses on the CAMTC application, and complaints made against them. CAMTC also contacts the cities and counties in which the applicant has lived and worked, in the past 10 years for additional information including administrative and civil citations. CAMTC has the authority to investigate an applicant or certificate holder's background.

Q: How does the CAMTC certificate affect a government agency's ability to regulate a massage professional?

CAMTC certificate holders are protected from certain regulations that cities and counties may impose on other massage professionals. Government Code section 51034 generally identifies regulations that cities and counties may not impose on CAMTC certified massage professionals. It generally provides, among other things, that cities and counties may not require a CAMTC certified individual to: take any test, medical exam, background check including criminal background, or requiring submission of fingerprints for a federal or state criminal background check, or comply with educational requirements beyond what is required for CAMTC certification; obtain any other license, permit, certificate, or other authorization to provide massage for compensation; comply with a dress code requirement beyond what is specified in Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(10); or prohibit massage of the gluteal muscles or other massage techniques identified by CAMTC as legitimate. Additionally, Government Code section 51034 generally identifies regulations that cities and counties may not impose on massage businesses, including but not limited to defining or regulating massage businesses as adult entertainment.

Furthermore, Business and Professions Code section 460(a) generally provides that no city or county shall prohibit a person or group of persons certified by CAMTC from engaging in their business, occupation, or profession, or any portion of that business, occupation, or profession. CAMTC interprets this provision to mean that cities and counties cannot completely ban CAMTC certificate holders from engaging in the business of massage, impose moratoriums on the massage businesses of CAMTC certificate holders (including stopping them from replacing certificate holders that have left the business or expanding the business), place caps on the number of massage businesses of CAMTC certificate holders in a jurisdiction, nor can a city or county completely ban the provision of outcall massage services or other portions of a massage business without violating this provision of law. Business and Professions Code section 460(b) also generally provides that no city or county shall prohibit a person certified by CAMTC from engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within their professionally recognized scope of practice.

Q: Are all California massage professionals required to be CAMTC certified?

No, CAMTC certification is voluntary, and the decision to apply for certification is up to the massage professional.

Q: How do I check to see if a massage professional is CAMTC certified?

Go to the Law Enforcement/Government Agencies page and login to search for an individual to see if they are CAMTC certified. You can also check the public site Verify Certification.

CAMTC certificate holders are required to display their original certification at their place of work. CAMTC certificate holders are also required to have their CAMTC ID card in their possession while they are working and to produce it if requested.

Q: How can I know what a CAMTC certificate and ID card look like?

         You can view the image of a sample certificate and ID card.

Q: How can I verify an individual’s certificate status and receive notices when disciplinary action is taken by CAMTC?

To verify the status of a particular certificate, click here and then click on the Verify Certification icon. Government staff and others who are directly involved with enforcing massage regulations can also request access to the dedicated section of CAMTC's website for law enforcement and local governments. Registered users will be able to view the secure site in order to verify certification, see the photo that is on a certificate holder's ID card, and link to other relevant information including disciplinary history.

To request access, click here and then click on the Login icon. More than one person in a city or county may register for these notices and gain access to the secure area of CAMTC's website.

 If you have any problems registering, contact Beverly May at bmay@camtc.org.

Q: We are working on revising our city codes regarding massage professionals. Have any other cities shared their code changes with you?

Yes. Please contact the CAMTC Director of Governmental Affairs, Beverly May at bmay@camtc.org for more information.

Q: Are there any examples of jurisdictions with comprehensive approaches to regulation of massage that are proving to be most effective?

Examples of cities or counties that provide a good approach to abating illicit activities under the guise of massage while respecting the profession of therapeutic massage can here found here.

See San Rafael staff report on land use options here

Q: We are planning to require CAMTC certification for all massage professionals in our city. Can we stop issuing permits?

That is a decision your jurisdiction has the authority to make. Typically permitted massage therapists are given at least 6 months to come into compliance.

Q: Can we still require massage professionals to obtain city licenses and permits?

Local cities and counties cannot require an individual certified by CAMTC to obtain any other license, permit, certificate, or other authorization to provide massage for compensation. However, cities and counties may require that massage businesses obtain a license, permit, certificate, or other authorization in order to operate. In most cities and counties a business license is required for each massage business.

Q: How do local agencies benefit from CAMTC certification?

CAMTC's background review process allows it to obtain statewide information for each individual that applies for certification or recertification, providing a broad overview of background issues.  The Massage Therapy Act allows CAMTC to take action on conduct-based violations, instead of being limited to just criminal convictions.  CAMTC’s educational standards are high and make the titles of CMT and CMP consistent throughout the state.  CAMTC is in a unique position to obtain information and determine patterns throughout the state.

Q: What about massage professionals who do not have CAMTC certification?

Massage professionals who choose not to apply (or who do not qualify) for certification can work in any jurisdiction that does not require certification. They will be required to comply with all local massage regulations. However, most massage professionals  find CAMTC certification useful because it is portable and allows them to provide massage for compensation in all cities and counties in the State without having to obtain a local massage permit.

Q: Can we require owner's and managers who are not certified to submit to a background check and live scan?

Yes, the city or county has full authority over non certificate holders who own or operate massage businesses, as well as those who provide massage if certification is not required.

 Q. What Water based Modalities have been approved by CAMTC?

Effective January 1, 2015, CAMTC may deny an applicant certification or discipline a certificate holder if, while engaged in the practice of massage for compensation or while visible to clients in a massage establishment, the applicant or certificate holder is dressed in swim attire if the water-based massage modality they are providing has not been approved by the Council [Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(10)(A)]. The following water based massage modalities have been approved by CAMTC, so that wearing swim attire while providing these modalities (or while visible to clients in a massage establishment) will not be a violation of Business and Professions Code section 4609(a)(10)(A) or CAMTC’s Denial Procedures:     

  • Watsu Massage,
  • Vichy Showers,
  • Hydrotherapy,
  • Swiss Showers
  • Scotch Hose
  • Hydrotherapy tub

 Descriptions of these are below.

As always, unprofessional behavior during even these techniques is something that CAMTC would review whether the technique is approved or not. Bathing suits are not worn other than for the application of any of the modalities below, which do not include massage in the wet room.

 Watsu - this is provided in a 98 degree pool or large Jacuzzi, often used in rehabilitation clinics. The therapist is in the pool supporting the client while stretching their arms and legs gently

 Vichy Shower - usually found in high end spas, with multiple jets from an arm over the table, so the client is on the table, usually as part of a body treatment, like a salt scrub or body wrap.  Instead of jumping up and getting in a shower to rinse off the salt or mud, the client will simply lie there.  

Basically it's a set of five to seven shower heads that run parallel to the treatment table. The Vichy might be attached to the wall, or freestanding.

What is frequently presented as "table showers" using a hose in a shower is not a Vichy unit

 Scotch hose - is a form of hydrotherapy where the client is sprayed with water of varying temperatures; hot, warm and cold water that change frequently. The client stands in front of the jets.

 Hydrotherapy - is the use of water in the treatment of disease, specifically whirlpool baths/Jacuzzis. The massage therapist would not be in the tub with the client, unless it is designed and large enough for Watsu.

 Swiss showers -is shower in which jets of water are sprayed onto the body from above, and also from numerous nozzles on the side.

 The following techniques are offered by some massage therapists as well as other spa service providers. No bathing suit would need to be worn, unless one of the showers above is used to remove the products.

 Body Scrubs -using abrasive products to scrub dead skin off

 Body Wraps - wrapping the body in blankets to warm after a scrub to relax and allow moisturizer to soak in

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

*Legal Notice regarding FAQs: These FAQs are provided as a service to individuals and businesses interested in CAMTC certification. However, these FAQs are not intended as, nor a substitute for, legal advice. Individuals and businesses with questions regarding CAMTC's enabling statutes, California Business and Professions Code sections 460, 4600 et. seq., Government Code section 51034, and/or the rules pertaining to various local jurisdictions should consult their own experienced legal counsel.

Please see our complaints page for further information and to file a complaint.

Q: Are all California massage professionals required to be CAMTC certified?

No, CAMTC is a private nonprofit organization that provides voluntary certification to individuals that meet the requirements in the law.

Q: How do I check to see if a massage professional is CAMTC certified?

Go to the home page for CAMTC.org and click on the VERIFY CERTIFICATION link to search for an individual to see if they are CAMTC certified.

CAMTC certificate holders are required to prominently display their original certification at their place of work. CAMTC certificate holders are also required to have their CAMTC ID card in their possession while they are working and to produce it if requested. Upon request, certificate holders are also required to provide their full legal name.

Q: Can I file a complaint by phone?

No. All complaints must be submitted in writing by going to the following link and following the directions. CAMTC does not accept anonymous complaints.

Q: What authority does CAMTC have regarding complaints?

CAMTC has the authority to conduct an investigation into the conduct of CAMTC certified massage professionals and applicants. CAMTC only has authority over CAMTC applicants and certificate holders, and does not have authority over other massage providers. CAMTC is authorized to take disciplinary action (up to and including revocation of certification) against certificate holders and deny applicants. Criminal investigations are conducted by law enforcement agencies, not CAMTC.

Q: Can CAMTC resolve a financial dispute between a certified massage professional and a client?

No. CAMTC does not get involved in monetary disputes.

Q: Can CAMTC investigate a massage establishment or their business practices?

No. CAMTC is a private nonprofit organization that provides voluntary certification to qualified individuals. It does not have authority over businesses. If you suspect criminal activity, you may report it to your local police department. If you suspect health code violations, please contact the local city or county department of health.

Q: Can I file a complaint about a certified massage professional without providing my name or contact information?

No. CAMTC does not investigate anonymous complaints.

Q: Can I file a complaint if I feel I was sexually assaulted or touched inappropriately during a massage by a CAMTC certified massage professional?

Yes. CAMTC takes these complaints very seriously. File a complaint using the CAMTC COMPLAINT LINK, and include as much detail as possible (i.e. massage professional's name, certificate number if known, date and time of the occurrence, location/address of the occurrence, and details of the incident).

Q: If I believe I was sexually assaulted during a massage, can I file a police report?

Yes. In addition to filing a complaint with CAMTC, you can report the incident to your local police department.

Q: If I file a police report does the police department automatically notify CAMTC?

No. There is no legal requirement that the police notify CAMTC of a complaint against a certified massage professional. You should file a complaint with CAMTC using the CAMTC COMPLAINT LINK, and include as much detail as possible (i.e. massage professional's name, certificate number if known, date and time of the occurrence, location/address of the occurrence, and details of the incident).

Q: If I file a complaint with CAMTC, does CAMTC notify the police department?

No. You get to decide whether or not you file a police report.

Q: If I file a complaint using the complaint link, how long does it take CAMTC to acknowledge receipt of the complaint?

You will immediately receive an email message letting you know that your complaint was received. You will also generally receive acknowledgment of your complaint by a member of the Professional Standards Division within 2-3 business days.