Difference Between Licensed And Certified Massage Therapist

Submitted by JoyLife Therapeutics on October 11, 2012

Massages are a great form of holistic treatment. They tend to help all types of injuries and ailments. It is also important that you get your massage done from person properly trained in the job. Therefore the question arises on how do I decide on the right therapist?


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Massage therapists are either licensed massage therapists and certified massage therapists. These therapists either use LMT and CMT appended to their names. But what do these initials mean exactly?

An LMT is a licensed massage therapist. A licensed therapist is one who is required to get a license from the state in which the therapist practices or wants to practice. The license is a requirement of the government or the laws of that state. This rule is usually applicable for the United States of America, where every state tends to have a different requirement.

A CMT or a certified massage therapist is someone who gets a certification from a national body on the correctness of the massage techniques. While certification is desired, license is mandatory, especially in states that require this license.

The certification is a professional qualification and is subject to the origins of the institute giving the certification. A certification usually judges the quality of training, demonstrations of the technique, and the appropriate use of standard massage therapies. A license tends to carry more importance, and often massage therapists get a license, even if it is not a statutory requirement. A licensed practitioner automatically is one who follows all professional standards and takes the correct measures for safety.

The requirements to get a license tend to vary in different states but generally include stipulations like a definite number of hours practiced, certain limitations followed and following other requirements as required by the state, in which the license is being acquired.

The words certified and licensed are often used interchangeably but that can be misnomer. A massage therapist may or may not be certified but usually has to be licensed to massage for a living.  Certification need not be renewed and the practitioner can take a call not to complete further certification but licenses often require periodic renewal with proof of further training with it.

Currently 43 states in USA demand that a professional massage therapist get a license before practicing the trade in that state. Such states even define the ambit of the services that a massage therapist or a registered massage therapist should provide.

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