Where do I find the law? The Massage Licensing Act, referred to as the MLA, can be found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes at 225 ILCS 57 through this web site or through the web site of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Click here.
Will this be the only license I need to practice massage? Maybe. It depends on local ordinances. The MLA overrides any local professional licensing law. This is the only professional license you will need in Illinois. However, local governments can and will continue to regulate businesses. So if the local laws where you practice require your spa, clinic or other setting to have a business license, separate from a professional license for individual therapists, they can continue to require that.
Who are the people who sit on the Massage Licensing Board? Six will be massage therapists, two of whom represent schools. All of them are political appointments.
Why is there one person on the Board who is not a massage therapist? All professional licensing boards in Illinois have at least one member who is not affiliated with the profession regulated.
Is this the end of the political and legislative process, now that the law is in place? No. Often when professions become newly licensed in a State, other professions that perceive an overlap (or an opportunity) will try to encroach on or limit the scope of practice for the newly licensed profession. We’ll need to continue to watch these efforts and work with legislators to help them understand the need to retain the broad scope of practice now in our law.
Why does the law require that I am “of good moral character”? Isn’t this what we were trying to get away from by seeking professional licensure? This requirement is the same as that for any profession licensed in Illinois, so massage therapists are not being singled out. Also standard is the language that allows the DFPR to consider conviction of any crime, including a conviction that is directly related to the practice of the profession. The only convictions that would absolutely prevent the DFPR from issuing a license to someone would be convictions for prostitution, rape, or sexual misconduct, or where the applicant is a registered sex offender.
The law still seems to be trying to be a “morals code” by addressing immoral conduct under Grounds for Discipline. Why do massage therapists get treated like this? The part of the law that addresses sexual misconduct under disciplinary provisions is also standard language for a professional licensing law in Illinois. We are being held to no different standard than nurses or respiratory therapists and others.
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Applying and Renewal:
How will I apply for a state massage license? You apply to the State of Illinois on forms they will provide, but you must print them off the DFPR web site or request to have them sent to you. You pay the required fee and provide whatever documentation is required by the form for the licensing category under which you are applying. You also must submit an electronic scan of your fingerprints with the application so that the state can do a criminal background check on you. The state will give you a list of approved vendors where you must go to have the scanning done.
How much will the license cost? The fee is $175 every 2 years. Fingerprinting and criminal background check costs around $50, but that is a one-time cost for the initial license. There are additional fees for late renewal, etc.
What happens after I apply? The DFPR will review your application and documentation and decide to issue a license to you or to refer your application for consideration by the Massage Licensing Board. The Board considers applications where the credentials presented are not clear-cut and require some discretion to decide whether the person meets the qualifications under the law. The Board makes a recommendation to the DFPR Director, who then decides the fate of those applicants.
What are these licensing categories you referred to? There are three ways for you to meet qualifications for licensing.
You graduated from a 500-hour program and passed a competency exam approved by the State; OR
You are currently licensed in another jurisdiction (state or province) that has licensing requirements that meet or exceed the Illinois requirements; OR
You moved to Illinois from someplace that had no licensing requirement, but you have passed the national certification exam (NCETMB)
How often will I have to renew the license? Every 2 years. All massage therapists will need to renew in the last quarter of each even-numbered year.
How much continuing education (CE) do I have to take? The law requires 24 hours during each renewal period starting with the licensees second renewal. The 24 hours must be earned in the current renewal period, and excess hours cannot be used to meet the next renewal period requirement.
Will my courses taken for AMTA renewal or NCBTMB recertification apply? Yes. The DFPR adopted rules for continuing education that accepts all courses taken from a NCBTMB-approved provider.
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I am a student now. How do I know if my school is approved so that I will be eligible for a license when I graduate? DFPR has adopted Rules of Practice for Massage Therapy which set forth requirements for approved massage programs. These include at least 500 hours on subjects including anatomy, physiology, hygiene, sanitation, ethics, technical theory, and application of techniques. If your school’s program is at least 500 hours, chances are pretty good that the owners or administrators are making sure it includes the appropriate subjects so that their graduates will have no problem getting licensed. Ask them about it.
The school I am enrolled in now has only a 250-hour program. Can I still get licensed? No. You must complete at least 500 hours of training and pass the national certification exam (for which you wouldn’t be eligible with only 250 hours of training).
Do I Need A License IF...? My school requires me to do massage practice in a student clinic, for which I don’t get paid. Do I need a license before I start that part of my training? No. There is a specific exemption for students, providing they are not paid for this practice work. The school also must not represent that the work is being performed by licensed massage therapists.
Do I need a license if I only practice part-time or only in my home? Yes. Anyone who practices massage therapy in Illinois must have a license. To practice without a license puts you at risk of a neighbor reporting it and you getting charged with a criminal offense.
I work for a licensed chiropractor (or in a hospital, etc.). Do I still need a license? Yes. You can not work under someone else’s professional license. You must have your own. Anyone who hires an unlicensed person to do massage therapy in their clinic, salon, hospital or other setting could be charged with a criminal offense as well.
I employ several massage therapists, and I’m not sure all will qualify for a license. Can they work for me since I will be licensed? No. The law makes it a criminal offense to employ an unlicensed massage therapist as well as for that person to work as a massage therapist without having their own license. Both you and the employee would be at risk.
I specialize in Reiki/Alexander Technique/ Feldenkrais/Therapeutic Touch. Must I be licensed? No (but see the next two questions). There is a specific exemption for you in the law. However, you may not use the terms “massage”, “massage therapist”, “therapeutic massage”, or “massage therapeutic” in any advertising, including business cards, web sites, directories or other publications.
I incorporate Orthobionomy into my massage work. Must I be licensed? Yes. If you do massage work that falls under the statutory definition, you must have a license. This is true even if some of your work falls under one of the exemptions in the law, such as Orthobionomy.
I am credentialed to do Reikissage. Must I be licensed? Yes. Reikissage combines a style of work that is exempt, with massage work that falls under the definition of massage in the law. So you must have a license to practice.
I practice reflexology exclusively. Do I need a license? No, you are specifically exempted from the law’s requirements. However, the same restriction on advertising mentioned above applies to you.
Can I legally use hotpacks or warmed stones in my massage work? Yes. The definition of massage specifically allows thermal massage.
Must I use oil or cream for my work to be considered therapeutic? No. The definition of massage states that techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salts or herbal preparations.
The spa/salon in which I work has a hydromassage room, which I use for some clients. Can I do this under my license? Yes, the law allows massage therapists to incorporate hydromassage into their work.
Can I use other tools that I now incorporate in my work when I am licensed? Yes, the definition of massage includes the possible use of massage devices that mimic or enhance the actions possible by human hands. top of page