It’s been a while since you’ve given a professional massage, and your massage license has expired. I am not going to even ask why you left the massage profession. I have heard every reason under the sun and every single one is valid. Maybe you had kids, moved, took care of a loved one, took a different job, or hated your last massage job. It does not matter. You needed the break.
Now you’re ready to renew your license and get back into the profession. But where do you start? This blog post will guide you through the process of renewing your expired massage license, from taking the MBLEx (only if needed – calm down) to getting a job. Whether it has been a short or long hiatus, I’ve got you covered!
Before I begin, I should mention that there are fifty different states with fifty different regulations for massage. This article will be a lot of generalizations, but I intend to let you know what you should expect on this journey back to massage therapy.
Let’s take the first steps now.
How long has it been?
When did your license expire? Was it 60 days ago, 6 years ago, or 16 years ago?
It just expired…
If it was within the last year or two, your license probably just be delinquent. In this case, you will most likely just need to complete any necessary continuing education and pay your renewal fee along with a late fee.
For example, if your Texas massage license has been expired less than 18 months, you just need to complete all of your Texas massage continuing education courses requirements a pay your late fees.
It has been a while…
It is usually after three or four years that we see licenses go from delinquent status to null and void status. Null and void status is when your license has expired and you have not taken any steps to renew it for usually more than two renewal cycles. In this case, you may need to start the process from the beginning as if you are a new massage therapist.
This does not automatically mean that you will need to go back to school. And you probably do not need to take the licensing exam such as the MBLEx, or NCETMB, if you already took them years ago. Let’s dive into those two fears a little more.
Do I need to go back to massage school?
The answer to this question is, unfortunately, maybe. However, it is very, very unlikely. It depends on the state that you are in and on how long it has been since your massage license expired. The most important factor is if your state has changed massage laws or regulations since you went to school.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
For instance, maybe you went to massage school and got licensed when Texas required 300 hours. Well, now they required 500 hours. The state could make those that let their license expire return to school for 200 more hours to comply with the new laws. It does not appear they do that as of now.
Or maybe you were licensed years ago in a state without even attending massage school (grandfathered) while they were establishing massage licensing. Then you let your license expire. Chances are you are not going to be allowed to get a license again without any training. Grandfathering is often a one-time thing with a deadline.
I’ve said this many times, when you let a license expire, you are taking responsibility for needing to comply with any new requirements that happen while you are not licensed.
A lot of people do not realize that. I think if more people understood the gravity of that decision, they would keep up their renewal requirements.
Do I need to take the MBLEx or NCETMB again?
Again, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, maybe. But, again, it is very, very unlikely.
If you previously took the NCETMB or MBLEx, those scores do not expire. You most likely do not need to take an exam again. Even if you let your NCBTMB certification expire, your exam scores do not expire.
Let’s talk about a few scenarios where you may need to take the MBLEx. If you have been out of the field a while, the NCETMB is no longer given.
You were grandfathered without taking an exam
This is the most common scenario. If you were originally licensed years ago in a state that does not require an exam and now that state has changed its requirements and requires an exam for applications, you may need to take a licensing exam.
A common state I see this issue with is Illinois or Michigan
Your state has changed exams
Ohio originally had its own licensing exam given by the Ohio medical board. Now they only accept the MBLEx. If your Ohio massage license is expired and you took that old exam, you may need to take the MBLEx to get licensed again.
Your state requires applicants have an exam within a certain time period
Louisiana is one of the few states that requires those without a current license to have completed a licensing exam within the last two years.
I need to study for the MBLEx, where can I go for help to pass this exam?
If you need to take the MBLEx, Massage Exam Academy is a self-paced study program I offer with study guides, MBLEx practice tests, and flashcards. I have assisted many people in the process of reactivation. I know you think it may have been too long for you to test again, but I promise that massage knowledge is still in your brain and ready to be recalled.
How do I know what to do first?
The first step I recommend is finding out when your massage license expired. To do that, go to your State board website and look for a link to verify or look up a license. You can usually do this by name or license number. It should let you know when your license expired and the status (delinquent, lapsed, null and void, etc).
Get familiar with your massage board’s website
The best way to do this is to visit your state’s massage board website. They will have all the information you need regarding what is required to renew or reactivate your expired license.
Look for terms like “renewing an expired license” or “license reactivation”. Look those pages over to see if you can find out more about the process of getting your license back in good standing.
Some states will require:
-Additional Continuing Education (CE courses)
-An explanation of why you were away from massage
-Licensing exams or Juris (laws and rules) exams or courses
-If they have enacted background checks or other requirements since you have been away, you may need to do that too
If you have any doubts or questions, contact your board office. They have dealt with delinquent or expired licenses hundreds or thousands of times.
Do the work
Now that you know what you need to do to get licensed, get that done. Again, this will look different for everyone. For some of you, it may be a simple late fee and a few courses. Others may need to take the MBLEx or send in a new massage license application and get a new license number.
Do I need to take some refresher courses?
This is really more of a personal preference. Some people dive right back in without any additional courses or training – like riding a bike. Some people feel a little rusty and want to review the origins, insertions, and basic anatomy. There are no right or wrong answers here. Do what you need to do in order to competently and safely serve the public as a massage professional.
Tips for finding a massage job
The good news is, that there are so many places hiring massage therapists right now. If you are wanting to get back into the industry after your license has expired, here are some tips:
-Get your resume and social media up to date
-Look for spas, massage clinics, or chains that are hiring
-Network with other massage therapists
-If you want to open your business, put together a business plan
I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion around what it takes to renew an expired massage license. The process can seem daunting, but if you take it one step at a time, you will be back practicing massage in no time. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to your state board or local professional association for guidance.
To new beginnings!