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How to Become a Massage Therapist in Illinois

How to Become a Massage Therapist in Illinois

If you have a passion for helping others, a career as a massage therapist can be fulfilling and rewarding. Not only will you be able to improve the well-being of your clients, but you will also have the opportunity to work in a growing industry. In the state of Illinois, becoming a licensed massage therapist involves completing certain educational requirements and passing a licensing exam. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to become a massage therapist in Illinois.

Step 1: Research and Choose an Accredited Massage Therapy School
Before embarking on your journey to become a massage therapist, it is essential to research and select an accredited massage therapy school. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific educational standards and will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a successful therapist. Some well-known accredited schools in Illinois include the Soma Institute, Cortiva Institute, and the Chicago School of Massage Therapy.

Step 2: Complete a Massage Therapy Program
Once you have chosen a massage therapy school, you need to enroll and complete a massage therapy program. In the state of Illinois, the minimum requirement for massage therapy training is 500 hours. However, some schools offer more extended programs that can range from 600 to 1,000 hours. During your training, you will learn various massage techniques, anatomy, physiology, ethics, and business practices.

Step 3: Apply for Licensure
After successfully completing your massage therapy program, you are ready to apply for licensure in Illinois. To apply, you must submit an application to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Along with the application, you will need to provide proof of completing an approved massage therapy program, proof of passing the national certification exam, and pay the required application fee.

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Step 4: Pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
To become a licensed massage therapist in Illinois, you must pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). The MBLEx is a standardized exam administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). It tests your knowledge in various areas, including anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, ethics, and massage techniques. Adequate preparation through study materials, practice exams, and review courses can greatly increase your chances of passing the MBLEx.

Step 5: Complete Background Checks and Fingerprinting
As part of the licensure process, you will be required to undergo a criminal background check and fingerprinting. This is to ensure the safety of clients and maintain professional standards within the industry. It is essential to disclose any criminal convictions or pending charges during the application process, as failure to do so may result in the denial of your license.


Q: How long does it take to become a licensed massage therapist in Illinois?
A: The length of time it takes to become a licensed massage therapist in Illinois can vary. It typically takes about six months to two years to complete a massage therapy program, depending on the length of the program you choose. Additionally, the licensure process can take several weeks to a few months, depending on the application processing time.

Q: How much does it cost to become a licensed massage therapist in Illinois?
A: The cost of becoming a licensed massage therapist in Illinois can vary depending on the school you choose and the length of the program. On average, tuition for a massage therapy program in Illinois can range from $5,000 to $15,000. Additionally, there are fees associated with the licensure application, background checks, and the MBLEx.

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Q: Can I practice massage therapy while I am in school?
A: In Illinois, you are generally not allowed to practice massage therapy until you have obtained your massage therapy license. However, some schools may offer supervised clinic hours where you can gain hands-on experience under the guidance of instructors.

Q: What are the career prospects for massage therapists in Illinois?
A: The demand for massage therapists in Illinois is expected to grow in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of massage therapists is projected to increase by 22% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, massage therapists have the flexibility to work in various settings, including spas, wellness centers, sports teams, and even start their own private practices.

In conclusion, becoming a licensed massage therapist in Illinois requires completing an accredited massage therapy program, passing the MBLEx, and meeting the state’s licensure requirements. While the process may seem rigorous, the rewards of a career in massage therapy make it worthwhile. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can embark on a fulfilling journey to help others improve their well-being through the power of touch.

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