If you’re looking to start a career in massage therapy, you’ll need to obtain an Illinois massage license. This process can seem daunting whether you are still looking for a massage school or moving to Illinois, but don’t worry! We’re here to help walk you through the step-by-step process. We will outline everything you need to do in order to obtain your license and start practicing massage therapy in Illinois.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Complete a 500-Hour Massage Program
In order to obtain an Illinois massage license, you must first complete a 500-hour massage program. There are many different massage schools and programs that offer this type of training, so be sure to do your research and find one that is right for you.
Once you have completed the program, you will need to submit your transcripts to the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
Step Two: Pass the MBLEx Exam
After you have completed your massage program, you will need to take and pass the MBLEx exam. This is an entry-level licensing exam given by the FSMTB or Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.
You can register for the exam online and will need to pay a fee of $265 per attempt. The exam itself is computer-based taken at a testing center and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.
Once you have passed the exam, The FSMTB will submit your scores to the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
Massage Exam Academy is an excellent resource to help you prepare for the MBLEx exam whether you need to study during school or find yourself taking the exam years later.
Step Three: Apply for Your Illinois Massage License
Now that you have completed your massage program and passed the MBLEx exam, you are ready to apply for your Illinois massage license. You can do this by completing the online application on the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation website. Be sure to include all required documentation.
They have put together a good checklist and guide for new massage license applicants here.
Step Four: Get Your Fingerprints / Criminal Background Check
All Individuals applying for a massage license must submit to a criminal background check and provide evidence of fingerprint processing from a fingerprint vendor licensed by the Department.
Fingerprints must be taken within 60 days from the date that the application is submitted to the Department or the Department’s testing vendor.
Have more questions?
Those are the basic steps if you are just starting out and thinking about a massage therapy career. Many of you, you have some not-so-basic questions. Let’s run through a few questions we regularly see in our inboxes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get an Illinois massage license?
The process of getting an Illinois massage license can take several months if you are just beginning the school process. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete all the necessary steps, such as completing your massage program and taking the MBLEx exam.
If you are already a licensed massage therapist moving to Illinois and looking to complete the endorsement application, it can still take a couple of months for the application process.
How much does it cost to get an Illinois massage license?
The cost of getting an Illinois massage license application is $175 and is not refundable. Be sure to factor in the cost of your massage program, background check, as well as the fee for taking the MBLEx exam, if needed.
Are there any other additional continuing education courses I need to get licensed in Illinois?
Not that I am aware of currently.
You may see there is a requirement for a “Sexual Harassment Awareness” course for licensees. But this only pertains to renewal applications, not for initial license applications.
How many hours of continuing education do I need each renewal for my Illinois massage license?
You are required to complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew your Illinois massage license. A one-hour course on sexual harassment awareness is required for license renewal, as well as a 2-hour ethics course.
Here is a list of Illinois massage board-approved sponsors.
Our application for becoming an Illinois massage sponsor is currently pending review. We will update you with a link to our approved courses once approved.
Be sure to keep track of your credits and submit them to the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation when you apply for renewal.
The renewal fee is $175.
You can read all of the renewal requirements here.
I went to school out of state, what do I need to do to transfer my massage license to Illinois?
If you are already a licensed massage therapist in another state, you will need to fill out an application for an Illinois massage license as an endorsement candidate.
The application guide provides information on how to do this, including how to find an out-of-state fingerprint provider.
Be prepared to submit your transcripts and proof of licensure from your home state, as well as pass the MBLEx exam (if you never took a licensing exam such as the MBLEx or NCETMB).
I went to massage school years ago, but never took the NCETMB or MBLEx, can I still get licensed?
Most likely. You will need to see if you still meet the minimum educational hours requirements, take the MBLEx, and complete the application and background check. Contact the board if you are in this position to make sure you are on the right track.
My Illinois massage license is expired. How can I renew it?
It really depends on how long your massage license has been expired.
Illinois has made some changes in the last few years. They were one of the later states to have a licensing exam.
If it has only been a year or two, you may just need complete your continuing education courses and pay your late fee. But if it has been a long time, you may need to do a bit more. See the board page on license restoration and contact them with any questions.
Do I need a massage establishment license for Illinois?
There is not a massage establishment license for the state of Illinois. However, many cities in the state do require a business license or massage establishment license.
Here is an example of the requirements for a massage establishment in Chicago.
Be sure to check with your local city government to see if you need a business license to operate your massage business.
Any other questions?
We hope this guide has been helpful in outlining the process of getting an Illinois massage license. If you have any further questions, you can drop a comment below – or contact the Illinois Massage Board Office. They likely have heard your question hundreds of times.
We wish you the best on your next steps, whatever they may be. Take care!