2023 Edition

BCETMB Test Guide

Massage and bodywork are growing fields, since people are increasingly relying on therapeutic massage and bodywork as a means of relaxation, pain relief, health concerns, rehabilitation and general wellness, year after year. Massage therapists must be licensed in their state. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) administers an exam called the Board Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCETMB) that is a voluntary exam that offers massage professionals to show an advanced standing in the field.  Board certification is the highest voluntary credential in the massage and bodywork profession.

Receiving board certification involves completing a minimum of 750 hours of instruction, 250 hours of professional hands-on experience, passing the BCETMB, passing a national background check, hold current CPR certification and agree to uphold the NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

The exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions with four choices provided for each question. Test takers have two hours and forty minutes to complete the computer-based exam.

The exam is divided into six content areas:

  • Professional Communication
  • Law and Business Practices
  • Professionalism and Ethics
  • Massage Modalities, Techniques and Manual Forces
  • Applied Science: Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology, Pharmacology
  • Assessment

Test takers receive unofficial pass or fail scores immediately after completing the exam, and official score reports are mailed shortly after the exam. If you fail the exam, you will be given diagnostic information about your performance which can be used to understand your strengths and weaknesses should you wish to try again.

To apply for the exam and certification, candidates must complete an application that can be accessed online at www.ncbtmb.com. Any documentation that cannot be uploaded online must be mailed to the NCBTMB. Once the NCBTMB has completed review of your application, it will send you an email confirming the application. NCBTMB review can take up to four weeks. Once you are deemed eligible, you will receive an Authorization to Test email and you are to schedule your exam with Pearson Vue. You will have 90 days to take the BCETMB exam once you receive the authorization email. There are fees to apply to the NCBTMB and take the exam.

Candidates should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment and bring a government-issued photo ID (Social Security cards are not accepted) on the day of the exam and be prepared to have their photograph and an electronic fingerprint taken. No personal items are allowed in the testing room, including cell phones and pagers, which should be turned off and locked in a locker at the site. Eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking and making distracting noise is not permitted in the testing room. Test administrators will provide examinees with erasable note boards and markers. The administrator may allow unscheduled restroom and food breaks, but the exam clock will not stop.

Interested in becoming a certified and licensed massage therapist?  Check out our BCETM Directory for information about the BCETM and test preparation services.