General Questions:

Where do I find the Massage Therapy Practice Act?
The Massage Therapy Practice Act, referred to as the Practice Act, 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 Practice Act 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?
The Board consists of 7 members. Six members are massage therapists with at least 3 years experience, one of those six will represent massage therapy schools from the private sector, and one will represent a massage therapy school from a public sector. The seventh member is a public member who is not licensed under the Act. The Board members are appointed through the Department and not elected. Applications are handled by the IDFPR.

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 Act 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.  All licensing professions in the state of Illinois are required to be reviewed every 5 years.

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 IDFPR 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 IDFPR 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 Act 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?
SPRINGFIELD –Individuals seeking to apply for their Massage Therapist License with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will now be required to submit and pay for their initial application online via IDFPR’s Online Services Portal.  The new online portal enables applicants to enter all required information electronically, including attachment of supplemental electronic documents.  Once submitted, applicants may monitor their application’s status online as it moves through IDFPR’s review process.  The move to an online, paperless initial licensure is part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency.

Individuals seeking to apply for their Massage Therapy License may do so by visiting IDFPR’s online initial application portal at:

How much will the license cost?
The application fee is $175  and is renewed every 2 even-numbered 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 IDFPR 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 IDFPR 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.

  1. You graduated from a 600-hour program and passed a competency exam approved by the State; OR
  2. You are currently licensed in another jurisdiction (state or province) that has licensing requirements that meet or exceed the Illinois requirements; OR
  3. You moved to Illinois from someplace that had no licensing requirement, but you have passed the MBLEX offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB).

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.

Continuing Education:

How much continuing education (CE) do I have to take?
As of January 2024, the Act requires 25 hours during each renewal period starting with the licensees second renewal. The 25 hours must be earned in the current renewal period, and excess hours cannot be used to meet the next renewal period requirement.  Of the 25 hours of CE, 2 of them are required to be ethics training, and 1 of them is required to be concerning preventing sexual harassment training and 1 CE in domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. All CEs can be done online, in-person or a combination of both.

Will my courses taken for AMTA renewal or NCBTMB recertification apply?
Yes. The IDFPR adopted rules for continuing education that accepts all courses taken from a NCBTMB-approved provider.


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?
The program or school should have approval by the Department of Education {private schools need their approval and public schools are ultimately approved by the IL Community College Board  (ICCB) which is part of the Department of Education}. IDFPR has stipulated programs must be at least 600 hours of hands on study in the areas of anatomy, physiology, hygiene, sanitation, ethics, technical theory, and applications of techniques. IDFPR accepts programs that are approved by the Department of Education.

The school I am enrolled in now has only a 250-hour program.  Can I still get licensed?
No.  You must complete at least 600 hours of training and pass Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEX).

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 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 Act 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 Act’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 Act 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.