In 20 years of doing massage, I’ve had exactly one client request to see my professional license. In that same time we have fielded hundreds of request for girls, or a “female masseuse”. It seems that no one really cares if we are licensed, educated or qualified. Even consumers who do want a great massage don’t even know that a license is REQUIRED in the state of Missouri to practice massage. To make matters even more confusing MANY businesses don’t follow the rules and operate using people who don’t have a license and without the required Massage Therapy Business License from the State of Missouri.
Once while discussing the matter with a lawyer friend of mine, she admitted that she thought a massage license was something that was an extra credential, but not something that was REQUIRED. You CAN drive a car without a driver’s license, but every time you do so you are breaking the law. Many people don’t know the law, and many others who do know the law choose to ignore it. So why does it matter? Why does my business carry a license and why do I insist all the MT’s who work here are licensed? My life sure would be easier if I didn’t care. But I do. Let me tell you why.
It’s the LAW. When I first started doing massage there was no state regulation in Missouri. My first license came from the Liquor and Amusement Department of Kansas City. I had to get a hepatitis test and have a doctor sign a form that stated I had “no communicable diseases”. It was humiliating and insulting. There was no educational requirement. There was no test. The woman who started the school I was attending worked very hard to get a more professional regulation in place for the entire state of Missouri. By the time I finished school, to get a license to do massage in Missouri you had to have completed 500 clock hours of education, get a background check and fingerprints taken, as well as pass a nationally accredited test. The goal was to bring professionalism and credibility to the field, and I was happy there was a better standard in place. I was happy to follow the law.
When you get a massage from an unlicensed business and or practitioner you don’t know what you’re getting. I hear all the time about experiences people have at places that focus primarily on the feet. If you look closely, those places don’t use the word “Massage” to describe their work. That is because the law regulates use of the word “Massage”. By avoiding that word, those places can employ literally anyone with no training to mash on your body. While I haven’t been, I’ve also heard that you typically leave your clothes on. That is another way to get around the massage regulations in Missouri. If the client remains clothed, it is not regulated by the massage board. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a good clothed body mashing, but you should know that you are not getting a service from a trained professional.
There is a significant chronological and monetary disadvantage to following the law. I waited YEARS to finish school and get my license. I watched many other people take clients before they had completed school, starting businesses without a license. As much as I LOVED waiting tables, I too would have rather been doing the gratifying work of therapeutic massage years earlier. Working/running a business without a license is unfortunately very common. Consumers don’t know to ask for a license. And there are lots of people who don’t want to bother with the expense and hassle of getting a license. When you frequent an unlicensed establishment or practitioner, you are voting with your dollars for people who cheat and disrespect the profession. When you get a massage from a licensed professional at a licensed massage business you are supporting years of hard work and helping to pay off student loan debt.
If you are a consumer who is inclined to support a licensed massage therapist who works at a licensed massage therapy business you can look up both credentials online! Keep in mind some businesses / people use a different name than might be on their license, so always contact the person or business directly to ask for their business or professional license number! If you ask me for my license number, you’ll be the second person in 20 years.