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Differences in CMT & LMT

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Massage therapists can be divided into three separate categories to include certified massage therapists (CMTs), licensed massage therapists (LMTs) and certified massage practitioners CMPs). These three categories have been created by states which require the massage industry to be regulated. These regulations ensure the safety and health of patients and consumers. Each category requires a specified amount of training and a certification process. CMT and LMTs vary little in terms of training requirements, but their involvement with professional and governmental organizations differs greatly.


Certified massage therapists and licensed massage therapists have the same amount of training. Individuals in both of these categories complete a 150-hour basic training. This basic training is usually three months long depending on the structure of the program. An additional 500 hours of training is completed over a one- to two-year period, which instructs individuals on specific techniques and deep tissue work. The third training level is equal to 1,000 hours and can take more than two years to complete. These individuals are well skilled in a variety of techniques.


Certification is a voluntary process. Massage therapists can sell their services without this designation. Certification is granted to individuals who can prove that their education and experience gained during training has provided them with the basic knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform the job. Multiple agencies offer certification and the regulations of each agency will differ. Individuals who are soliciting massage services should ask the therapist which agency awarded their certification so that they can investigate credentials.


Licensure is not a voluntary process. Massage therapists that wish to practice their skills in specific states are required to obtain licensure. This process grants permission to the therapist in order for them to take clients and build their business. The licensure process differs from state to state, but all state regulations are formatted to ensure the public health, safety and welfare of both the therapist and their clients. Licensure is a state or local process and may be necessary on both levels depending on location.

CMT and LMT Differences

The basic difference between certified massage therapists and licensed massage therapists is the certification versus licensure process. Certification is offered by private, non-governmental agencies which acknowledge that an individual has met measurable standards. Certification is not necessary to practice, but it can award specific privileges. Licensure is offered by local and state government agencies with the knowledge that an individual has met measurable standards and has the ability to maintain standards while ensuring health and safety. If licensed, the individual must display the licensure in the designated place of business at all times when services are being performed. Certification and licensure can be held by the same individual.


Jennifer Young has worked as a writer, editor and book publisher for professional life coaches and business entrepreneurs since 2007. She has specialized training and experience in project management and procurement, as well as contracting services. Young earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both history and Japanese studies.

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