Houston Massage School

The Avalon School of Massage in Houston, Texas puts earning power in the hands of students as they enjoy an optimal, enjoyable learning experience.

Texas Law             To Enroll or Schedule an Intern Massage Call 713-333-5250

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is the regulatory authority for massage therapists, massage schools, massage therapy instructors, and massage establishments in Texas.  DSHS adopts rules to implement the provisions of the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 455 (formerly Texas Civil Statutes, Article 4512k (the Massage Therapy Registration Act)) effective September 1, 1985.  Implementation of the Massage Therapy Registration Act is carried out by DSHS to protect public health, safety and welfare.

This page contains information about massage therapy including registration requirements, examination, annual renewals, how to file a complaint, where to go for more information, and more. Return to the Professional Licensing and Certification Unit Home Page for information on other regulatory programs.

Table of Contents

Program Responsibilities

  • Evaluate credentials of applicants for registration as massage therapists, massage schools, massage therapy instructors, and massage establishments
  • Develop registration examinations; coordinate exam administration with contract examination company; evaluate results; and notify candidates of results
  • Issue registration(s) and renewal(s) to qualified applicants
  • Investigate complaints
  • Initiate disciplinary action including denial of initial applications or renewals, revocation, suspension, probation; reprimand; or assess administrative penalties after opportunity for hearing has been offered

Enabling Legislation and Administrative Rules

  • Law: Chapter 455, Texas Occupations Code The Texas Massage Therapy Registration Act defines massage therapy, massage therapist, massage school, massage therapy instructor, and massage establishment; sets out registration requirements for massage therapists; authorizes the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to adopt rules relating to massage therapists, massage therapy instructors, massage schools, and massage establishments; establishes DSHS as the regulatory authority for massage therapy in the state; and prohibits persons from acting as or representing the person as a massage therapist, massage school, massage therapy instructor, or massage establishment without registration unless otherwise exempt from the registration requirement..

    The text of the law is available to download or print by scrolling to Chapter 455 at: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/oc.toc.htm
  • Administrative Rules: Title 25 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 141.  The administrative rules (adopted by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) under the authority of the Massage Therapy Registration Act) regulating massage therapy in Texas govern all aspects of registration and regulation including qualifications for application and examination, registration renewal, guidelines for conduct, continuing education, complaints and disciplinary actions. Once adopted, the rules become Texas Administrative Code which carries the weight and intent of law. It is the responsibility of each registrant to be familiar with and comply with both the law and the rules.

Proposed Rules

Proposed rules have been published in the Texas Register for a 30 day comment period.

Link to the proposed rules in the October 29, 2004 issue of the Texas Register - you may view and print the Texas Register in a variety of formats on the website of the Office of the Secretary of State: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/texreg/issues.shtml

2001 Legislation

All of the boards and programs of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Professional Licensing and Certification Unit are impacted by these changes to Texas law resulting from the 77th Texas Legislature (2001).

Click here to read about the legislation and link to each bill on the State of Texas web site

HIPAA Notice

Click the link below to read an important message about HIPAA Privacy Standards for providers and entities that submit protected health information to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

http://www.tdh.state.tx.us/hipaa/webmessage.htm

Registration Required

Unless exempt from the registration requirements, a person may not act as a massage therapist, massage school, massage therapy instructor, or massage establishment without being registered with DSHS.

Unless exempt, a person may not represent himself or herself as a massage therapist unless the person holds a certificate of registration issued by DSHS.

Ineligibility for Registration

Please be aware that the Massage Therapy Registration Act, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 455, Sec. 455.152(a) states that a person is NOT ELIGIBLE "for registration as a massage establishment, massage school, massage therapist, or massage therapy instructor if the person is an individual and has been convicted of, entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or received deferred adjudication for an offense involving prostitution or another sexual offense."

Additionally, Sec. 455.155(d) prohibits sexually oriented businesses from registering or operating as massage establishments.

Definitions and Description of Practice

"Massage therapy" means the manipulation of soft tissue by hand or through a mechanical or electrical apparatus for the purpose of body massage and includes effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and Swedish gymnastics.  The terms "massage," "therapeutic massage," "massage technology," myotherapy," "body massage," "body rub," or any derivation of those terms are synonyms for "massage therapy."

Practices in massage therapy include the use of oil, salt glows, heat lamps, hot and cold packs, and tub, shower, or cabinet baths.

Massage therapy constitutes a health care service if the massage therapy is for therapeutic purposes.  Massage therapy does not constitute the practice of chiropractic.  The terms therapy and therapeutic when used in the context of massage therapy practice do not include (1) the diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease; or (2) a service or procedure for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, or podiatry is required by law.

"Massage school" is an entity that (a) teaches at a minimum the course of instruction required for registration as a massage therapist; and (b) has at least two instructors; and is registered by DSHS.

"Massage therapy instructor" is a licensed massage therapist who provides to one or more students instruction approved by the department in massage therapy.  Massage therapy instructors may be registered as a school-based instructor and instruct only at a massage school; or as an independent massage therapy instructor who may instruct independently or at a registered massage school.

"Massage therapy educational program" means the supervised 300 hour course of instruction required for registration provided by a massage school or massage therapy instructor and is registered by DSHS.

"Massage establishment" means a place of business that advertises massage therapy or offers massage therapy as a service and requires establishment registration unless the establishment holds a license, permit, certificate, or other credential issued in Texas under another law and offers or performs massage therapy under the scope of that credential.  Licensed massage therapists who practice as solo practitioners are not required to register as a massage establishment.  A sexually oriented business may not register under the Massage Therapy Registration Act or operate as a massage establishment under the Act.

Qualification for Registration [Specialized Education and Training]

  • Completion of a minimum 300-hour supervised course of instruction in the following massage studies provided by a licensed massage therapy instructor, registered massage school, a state approved education institution, or a combination of any of these in the following:
  •   (a) 125 hours of Swedish massage;
      (b)   50 hours of Anatomy;
      (c)   25 hours of Physiology;
      (d)   20 hours of Health and Hygiene;
      (e)   15 hours of Hydrotherapy;
      (f)   15 hours of Business Practices and Professional Ethics; and
      (g)   50 hour hands-on internship; or
  • Practiced massage therapy as a profession for not less than five years, immediately preceding the date of application, in another state or country that does not have or maintain standards and requirements that substantially conform to those of this state, as determined by DSHS. An applicant must have been engaged in the practice of massage therapy as defined in 25 Texas Administrative Code, ?141.1 for not less than 36 hours per month; and
  • Successful completion of the state administered written and practical examination.
  • The department may waive the examination and verification of education if an applicant:
  •   (a) is currently licensed/registered/certified in another state, jurisdiction, or country that has requirements substantially equivalent to those in Texas; and
      (b) has held that license/registration/certification for a minimum of two years prior to application in Texas; and
      (c) has successfully completed a national examination or other examination acceptable to the department; and
      (d) is sponsored by a person registered under the Massage Therapy Registration Act during the time the person holds a provisional registration.  The sponsorship requirement may be waived if DSHS determines that compliance creates a hardship for the applicant.

Examinations

Except as otherwise noted under Qualification for Registration, all applicants must successfully complete the Texas massage therapy examination.  Examinations are administered in Austin, Texas, three times each year.

Examination Fee- Required after your application has been reviewed and after you have received an exam approval letter. (This fee is paid directly to testing company and must be a cashier's check or a money order). Exam fee letters are mailed two (2) months before the exam. Fee deadlines are set for each exam (6-8 weeks before the exam).

$150.00 First-time exam candidates
$150.00 Retest - both examinations
$ 85.00 Retest - practical examination
$ 65.00 Retest - written examination

Examination Dates and Application Deadlines

January 2005 (Application Deadline: Postmarked or in Person 10/8/04 until 5:00 pm)

June 2005 (Application Deadline: Postmarked or in Person 03/04/05 until 5:00 pm)

September 2005 (Application Deadline: Postmarked or in Person 06/24/05 until 5:00 pm)

If you have a disability and need special accommodation for the examination, you must submit a completed Request for Disability Accommodation Form (included in the application packet).  Submit the request with a complete application. CONFIRMATIONS OF SPECIAL EXAM REQUESTS WILL BE MAILED BEFORE THE EXAM.

If your primary language is other than English and/or you obtained your massage therapy training in another language, and require an interpreter or other assistance at the examination, please submit your written request with the application. TRANSLATIONS REQUIRE ADDITIONAL FEES AND MUST BE PAID BEFORE THE EXAM.

DSHS is required to notify persons who take the examination of the results not later than the 30th day after the date a person sits for the examination.  The results are not available sooner than that day and will not be provided over the telephone.

You may obtain a copy of the application packet below under Forms in MS Word and Adobe Acrobat format.

Application Materials and Information

Only complete applications will be processed for the current examination.  Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will be processed for the next examination.  There are no exceptions.

Applicants who have met the education and experience requirements for registration and submit a complete application will receive a temporary registration that is valid for six months or until the applicant successfully completes the first examination for which the applicant is eligible.  Please note: A person whose temporary registration has expired is not eligible to receive another temporary registration and can not continue to engage in the practice of massage therapy.

Students must complete all required hours before they can apply for registration.

Allow 4-6 weeks for the processing of an application. Applications are processed in the order of receipt and as quickly as possible.  Please allow sufficient time for the program to process your application before contacting us.  Numerous calls inquiring on the status of an application can cause delays in processing.  The massage therapy registration program currently processes over 1,500 applications per examination.

You may obtain a copy of the application packet below under Forms in MS Word and Adobe Acrobat format.

Registration Renewal

Massage therapy registrations expire on the last day of each registrant's birth month.  Registrations for massage therapy instructors, massage therapy schools, and massage therapy establishments expire on the last day of the month in which they were originally issued.  Approximately six weeks prior to the expiration date, a renewal notice is mailed to the Licensed massage therapist at the last known address on file.  The form must be fully completed and postmarked with the appropriate renewal fee before the expiration date of the registration to avoid late renewal fees.  A person may not engage in the practice of massage therapy with an expired registration.  To do so is a Class C Misdemeanor.

Each registrant is responsible for renewing his or her registration prior to the expiration date and shall not be excused from paying additional fees or penalties.  Failure to receive notification from the department prior to the expiration date of the registration shall not excuse failure to file for timely renewal [massage therapy rule 25 TAC 141.10(b)(4)].

The annual renewal fee is $41.  Late renewal fees are $61 when renewed on or within 90 days of the expiration; $81 when renewed later than 90 days, but less than one year after expiration.  Please be aware that renewals are valid for one year based on the registrant's birth month. Renewing late will not alter that renewal date. Starting January 1, 2005, renewals will also be issued for a two year term. Renewal and late fees for a two year term are double those for a one year term. See your renewal form for details.

Annual renewal example: This means that if, for example, a registration expires on March 31, 2001, and the person renews within 90 days, he or she must pay $61 and a renewal card will be printed indicating that the next expiration date is March 31, 2002. If a registration expires on March 31, 2001, and the person renews September 15, 2001, which is after 90 days but less than one year, the person owes $81 and a renewal card will be printed indicating that the next expiration date is March 31, 2002. If the registration expires on March 31, 2001, and the person renews in March 2002, the person must pay $81 for the 2001 renewal and a renewal card will be printed indicating that the next expiration date is March 31, 2002. In this case, the person will also owe $41 to renew the registration through March 2003. If this $41 is not paid, the registration will expire March 31, 2002, even if the person has recently submitted the $81 late renewal fee for the 2001 renewal cycle.

A registration that has been expired for more than one year may not be renewed.  The person must reapply, meet current registration requirements, and successfully complete the Texas massage therapy examination in order to hold a registration.

Renewal forms are available below under Forms in MS Word and Adobe Acrobat format.

Online Renewals Now Available!

Licensed Massage Therapists can now renew their registrations through Texas Online. Click the link below to begin the online registration renewal process or review eligibility requirements for online renewal. When using the online service, registration renewal fees may be paid using a major credit card or an electronic check.

Renew Your Registration Online on the Texas Online website

Licensed Massage Therapy Establishments may also renew online.

Renew Your Establishment Registration Online on the Texas Online website

Continuing Education

Beginning with renewals occurring after January 1, 2002, Licensedmassage therapists must obtain 6 clock hours of continuing education (c.e.) during each annual renewal cycle.(Examples: LMTs whose registrations expire January 31 must accumulate the c.e. hours during the renewal cycle that begins February 1 and ends January 31 of each year; LMTs whose registrations expire July 31 must accumulate the c.e. hours during the renewal cycle that begins August 1 of each year and ends July 31; etc.)

Registrants renewing on a two year cycle will be required to complete 12 clock hours of continuing education during each two year renewal cycle.

Hours are reported and collected through an audit system.  Each LMT is required to attend programs or seminars to accumulate the hours, which will then be reported on a form.  No proof of attendance is required except for the LMTs who are selected for audit. Each registrant is required to maintain the records for a period of two years in the case of audit.

Acceptable Continuing Education includes attendance at and completion of department approved or recognized programs (other than the 300 hours required for registration), institutes, workshops, state or national conferences, advanced course work, or college or university academic courses that are:

(1) directly related to the theory or clinical application of theory pertaining to the practice of massage therapy and the manipulation of soft tissue, business practices, professional ethics, anatomy, physiology, hydrotherapy, and health and hygiene;
(2) advanced bodywork techniques acceptable to DSHS; and
(3) designed to increase and enhance professional knowledge, skills, or competence in the practice of massage therapy.

Continuing education approved or recognized by DSHS must be developed and presented by qualified persons. Massage therapy techniques and courses involving the manipulation of soft tissue must be taught or presented by a massage therapy instructor. Advanced bodywork techniques must be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration, or education in the technique being presented. Courses, other than techniques, may be taught or presented by persons with licensure, registration, education or practical experience in the subject being presented. Out-of-state instructors or presenters offering continuing education in Texas on massage therapy techniques or involving the manipulation of soft tissue must be in compliance with any licensure, registration or certification requirements for massage therapists and massage therapy instructors in the instructor or presenter's home state or be licensed to practice medicine, chiropractic, athletic training, physical therapy, or nursing. If the instructor or presenter's home state does not have licensure, registration or certification requirements for massage therapists and massage therapy instructors, the instructor or presenter must provide documentation of education or practical experience specific to the continuing education being offered.

Continuing education credit will not be given for the following:
(1) education incidental to the regular professional activities of a massage therapist, such as learning occurring from experience or research;
(2) professional organizational activity, such as serving on committees or councils or as an officer in a professional organization;
(3) college academic courses which are audited or not taken for credit;
(4) independent study; or
(5) any experience which does not fit the types of acceptable continuing education set out above.

Approval for continuing education may be obtained in several ways. Individuals and organizations may initiate requests for approval and clock hour credits of specific continuing education programs. Approval shall be given only for the specific program described in the request. Each individual or organization is responsible for providing the information necessary for DSHS to make a determination of the applicability of the program to the continuing education requirements. When approval is obtained in advance, the individual or organization shall advertise the number of clock hours approved and the content of the continuing education activity as submitted and approved by DSHS.

Additionally, continuing education providers may apply for provider pre-approval on DSHS forms, along with a $200 (2 Year Term) fee. Approval of provider applications will be determined by review of the application and determination of applicants' ability to comply with department rules. Pre-approvals are effective for twenty four months from the date of approval. New applications must be submitted to the department every two years accompanied by the required fee.

Massage therapy educational programs and pre-approved providers of continuing education must ensure that continuing education activities meet the department requirements set out in 25 TAC, Sec. 141.20 and Sec. 141.21. Pre-approved providers of continuing education must maintain attendance records of all continuing education activities for a period of three years. Pre-approved providers must also issue a certificate of attendance to each participant in a program, that contains the name of the pre-approved provider and approval number; the name of the participant; the title of the program; the number of clock hours of the program; the date and place of the program; and the signature of the pre-approved provider. Massage therapy educational programs may issue a certificate or a transcript as proof of attendance.

One hour of credit will be awarded for each clock hour of attendance at acceptable activities, except that one semester hour of college or university credit constitutes fifteen (15) clock hours of continuing education; one quarter hour of college or university credit constitutes ten (10) clock hours of continuing education credit; and 0.1 continuing education unit (CEU) constitutes one clock hour of continuing education credit (therefore, 1.0 CEU equals 10 clock hours). DSHS credit will not be awarded using CEUs. This reference is only used here to show the conversion method for persons who attend programs that designate the continuing education as CEUs.

DSHS will monitor a registrant's compliance with continuing education requirements by the use of a random audit system. Registrants selected for audit will receive notification along with the renewal notice. Supporting documentation of participation in continuing education activities are not to be submitted unless a written audit notice is received informing the registrant that he or she has been randomly selected for a document audit. Continuing education supporting documentation includes certificates of attendance or completion; transcripts of academic work; or any other documentation acceptable to DSHS. Registrants who receive an audit form with the renewal notice shall submit all appropriate documentation to substantiate compliance with the continuing education requirements. Individual massage therapists are responsible for maintaining continuing education documentation for a period of two years.

Providers of Continuing Education

Any Massage Therapy Educational Program approved in Texas may offer continuing education.

Roster of Massage Therapy Educational Programs (Schools/Independent Instructors) in alphabetical order (text file, 13 KB)

Roster of Additional School Locations/Community Colleges (text file, 4 KB)

Additionally, the Texas Department of State Health Services approves certain individuals as pre-approved providers of continuing education. The lists of approved pre-providers of continuing education available below are current through the date at the top of each list.

Consultation Documentation

Registrants are required to provide an initial consultation to each client prior to the first massage session and obtain the signature of the client on a consultation document. The document must include:

  • the type of massage techniques the registrant anticipates using during the massage therapy session;
  • the parts of the client's body that will be massaged or the areas of the client's body that will be avoided during the session, including indications and contraindications;
  • a statement that the registrant shall not engage in breast massage of female clients without the written consent of the client;
  • a statement that draping will be used during the session, unless otherwise agreed to by both the client and the registrant;
  • a statement that if uncomfortable for any reason, the client may ask the registrant to cease the massage and the registrant will end the massage session; and
  • the signature of both the client and the registrant.

If the client's reason for seeking massage changes at any time and any of the information in subsection (h)(1)-(4) of this section is modified, the registrant must provide an updated consultation reflecting any changes and modifications to the techniques used or the parts of the client's body to be massaged.

Consumer Information

Each Licensed massage therapist, massage therapy instructor, massage school, or massage establishment must notify each client of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of DSHS for the purpose of directing complaints to DSHS. This information must be provided on one of the following:

  • each written contract for services of a registrant; or
  • on a sign prominently displayed in the primary place of business of each registrant; or
  • on a bill for service provided by a registrant to a client or third party; or
  • by other written and documented method

Filing a Complaint

An individual who wishes to file a complaint against a massage therapist, a massage therapy school, a massage therapy instructor, or a massage therapy establishment may write to one of the following:

Complaints Management and Investigative Section
P.O. Box 141369
Austin, Texas 78714-1369

Massage Therapy Registration Program
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756-3183

. . . or call 1-800-942-5540 to request the appropriate form or obtain more information. This number is for complaints only (please direct routine calls and correspondence to the phone number and address given below).

. . . or e-mail the Massage Therapy Registration Program at massage@tdh.state.tx.us.

Obtaining More Information


To obtain an application packet or for any other information or inquiries, please contact us at:

Massage Therapy Registration Program
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756-3183, USA E-mail: massage@dshs.state.tx.us
Telephone: (512) 834-6616
Facsimile: (512) 834-6677

Forms and Publications

Obtain a copy of the following publications now - click on your selection.

To access documents in Adobe Acrobat format, you must download the Acrobat Reader software free from the Adobe web site. An Adobe Accessibility plug-in is available at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/access_downloads.html.

Law and Rules

Massage Therapist - Forms

Individual Forms from the Massage Therapist Application Packet

Renewal terms are being staggered; if you are unsure whether you are set to renew for a one or a two year term, please call our office at (512)834-6616 before submitting the renewal form and fee

Massage Therapy Establishment - Forms

Massage Therapy School - Forms and Publications

Massage Therapy Continuing Education Provider

To access documents in Adobe Acrobat format, you must download the Acrobat Reader software free from the Adobe web site. An Adobe Accessibility plug-in is available at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/access_downloads.html.

Rosters

Use to locate a professional, school or establishment, or to verify a current registration