Your Path To Becoming A Certified Thai Massage Practitioner

Published on: 02/27/24 | Category: 
your path to becoming a certified thai massage practitioner

Thai masseuses are to professional massage therapy what specialists are to traditional Western medicine. In addition to becoming licensed massage therapists in their state, they spend extra time learning about, training for, and practicing the art of Thai Massage techniques.

If you’re interested in becoming a certified Thai massage therapist, we recommend following the most comprehensive path forward, which will set you apart from those who only do “the basics.”

Steps To Becoming A Certified Thai Massage Practitioner

Thai masseuses are trained and certified to perform traditional Swedish and deep-tissue massage styles. However, they are also training in the ancient art and science of Thai massage, a lineage that stretches thousands of years into the healing traditions of China and India.

The Thai massage professionals at Chetawan Thai Therapeutic Massage have decades of experience behind us, and we meet regularly with aspiring massage therapists. These are our recommendations for pursuing this incredible career path, which allows you to work as a skilled healer for the rest of your life.

Enjoy the benefits of Thai massage yourself

Thai massages are very different from traditional Swedish massage techniques. We recommend booking Thai massages with a few different spas in your area to experience them for yourself and see if they align with your calling. This style of massage therapy is not for everyone as it’s very interactive from the perspective of the practitioner. 

In addition to using rubbing, kneading, pressure, and effleurage as you would in a traditional massage setting, you’ll also be manipulating clients’ appendages, encouraging their limbs and spine to stretch, bend, roll, rock, and assume different postures throughout the massage. Once you’ve experienced Thai massage on your own, you may decide to pursue this path or you may decide you lean more towards administering traditional or sports therapy-oriented massage techniques.

Understand the different levels of massage licensure & certification

As with most certificated occupations, there are varying degrees of education and training. The same is true for massage therapy. Here in California, we recognize two different types of training:

Certified Massage Therapist (CMT)

These certifications are offered by non-accredited massage schools. Practitioners learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, with extra attention placed on the musculoskeletal system. However, they are less regulated because the schools aren’t accredited and do not meet the standards set by the state’s licensure standards (see below). Most high-end or specialty massage sanctuaries do not hire CMTs because they're looking for someone with a higher level of qualifications. However, this lower level of certification may suffice for jobs or positions where massage is a supplemental form of therapy or modality.

Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)

This is what professional spas and massage sanctuaries look for when hiring new masseuses. LMT training and certification - including testing - is governed by the state and has a higher level of expectation. More hours are also required in education and practice before completing the LMT programs. 

Masseuses who have earned the LMT credentials have fulfilled the state requirements of completing a certain number of training hours, passing a state exam, and paying a license and registration fee. According to the MLIG, LMTs who’ve successfully completed their training and testing have an astute understanding of:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Pathology
  • Precautions & Contraindications
  • Areas of Caution
  • Special Populations
  • Benefits and Physiological Effects of Techniques
  • Client Assessment, Reassessment & Treatment Planning
  • Ethics, Boundaries, Laws, and Regulations
  • Guidelines for Professional Practice

The exam you sit for your LMT is called the MBLEx, governed by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. During the exam, candidates must exhibit full competency in massage and bodywork.

Continue training for Thai massage certification

Those of us who go on to become certified in Thai massage techniques continue our education and training. In some cases, this means taking classes and beginning the practice simultaneously as we pursue a CMT or LMT designation. In other cases, we attend massage schools specializing in Thai massage certifications. 

If you are just starting out and know for sure that you want to become a licensed Thai massage therapist, we recommend attending a school that includes the LMT while also providing the education and training required to learn the science and art of Thai massage. Currently, the Boddhi Panya Institute (BPI) is the only school in Northern California specializing in traditional Thai massage and their 500-hour program meets the education requirements for California Massage Therapy Council certification.

In addition to the physical training, you’ll also learn a bit about Traditional Chinese Medicine, including education about the herbs, supplements, and other lifestyle recommendations that complement Thai massage sessions as you support your clients along their wellness path.

Consider traveling to Thailand to complete your training

While the best Thai massage schools in the U.S. are typically affiliated with a lineage in Thailand, there is no better way to learn Thai massage techniques than to study where this sacred modality developed. Attending a Thai massage school in Thailand is a wonderful way to steep yourself in the magic of Thai culture while completing your education and training. 

Most of the best massage schools in Thailand intentionally scaffold their training to align with the U.S. and state-specific licensure requirements, making it easy to transfer all you’ve learned once you return. The key is to ensure the school you attend is recognized by some of our nation’s governing bodies, such as AOBTA, ABMP, or AMTA

Regardless of which path you take to become a skilled practitioner of Thai massage, you’ll be required (and inspired) to continue your education every year. This allows professional masseuses to remain fresh and current with our industry’s latest research and study findings and continue developing our repertoire of healing techniques and modalities.

Learn More About Becoming A Certified Thai Massage Practitioner At Chetawan

Are you interested in exploring Thai massage and learning more about it? Schedule a Thai massage at Chetawan or contact us online or by phone (707) 917-1251). We can tell you about our journeys and recommend options based on where you’re at along your path.