Career Map: Massage Therapist
This document was updated in collaboration with the Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in May 2007. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Massage therapists before completing your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, © 2007. This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the career map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this career map requires a written license from the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College Massage Therapists of Ontario.
To practise massage therapy in Ontario, you must obtain a Certificate of Registration from the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the College). The College under the Massage Therapy Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act sets all registration requirements. You cannot practise as a massage therapist unless you are registered with the College. Only the College of Massage Therapists, the provincial regulatory body, can register Massage Therapists.
Massage Therapists in Ontario are mainly self-employed health professionals. They work in a variety of settings, most often in massage therapy clinics and chiropractic offices. Other workplaces include health clinics, private practice, rehabilitation centres, health spas, health and fitness clubs, nursing homes, community health clinics, and hospitals. Clients may make appointments with massage therapists without being referred by a medical doctor.
Massage Therapists assess and treat physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints of the body mostly by hands-on manipulation. Assessment and treatment can include orthopaedic and neurological testing, soft tissue manipulation (Swedish massage is the most commonly used technique), hydrotherapy, remedial exercise programmes and client education programmes.
Before You Immigrate to Canada
Before you come to Canada, you should write to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario for an application to become a Massage Therapist in Ontario or download an application from the College’s web site. The College's address and web site are listed at the end of this information. Information on requirements for registration is available in the “Becoming a Member” section of the site and most required forms are available in the “Downloads” section of the site.
The College has developed a prior learning assessment process and a new bridging program, Bridging to Massage Therapy in Ontario, which is available for massage therapists from other provinces and countries. Information on this programme can be found on the College web site or you may telephone the College for information. The programme is not available at all schools. If you will not be residing within a reasonable distance of a school offering the programme, the College will evaluate your credentials as outlined below.
The College suggests that you begin the application process in your country because you will need to contact the educational institution where you obtained your massage therapy training and ask them to provide information on the course of study you completed there. The institution will need to complete the required transcript form and send it with transcripts and detailed course descriptions directly to the College of Massage Therapists.
When You Arrive In Ontario
If you did not start your application process overseas, you must start from Step 1 (see below). The registration process from start to finish takes at least one year. You should apply as soon as you arrive in Canada to help speed up the application process.
Registration Application Process
You must complete all of the following steps to be eligible for registration with the College:
- Application for Evaluation of Credentials
- Have an evaluation of your education and complete any additional education required to meet the requirement for education which provides equivalent competencies to the massage therapy programmes in Ontario
- Standards and Regulations Course and any other additional study required
- Certification Examination
- English or French Language Assessment
- Provide evidence that you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or are authorized to work in Canada
- Obtain professional liability insurance in the minimum amount required by the College
- Application for registration
Step 1 - Application for Evaluation of Credentials
There are two forms to be completed to apply for evaluation by the College. You must complete an Application for Evaluation of Credentials and send it to the College with the C$175.00 fee. You can send the fee as a certified cheque or money order payable to the College of Massage Therapists or you may pay with Visa or MasterCard; the College will not accept cash or a personal cheque.
The Application for Evaluation of Credentials asks for the following:
- Whether you are a Canadian citizen, landed immigrant or have a Canadian Work Permit.
- Whether you can speak and write French or English with reasonable fluency.
- If you have any reason to believe that you would not be eligible to acquire professional liability insurance.
- If you have been convicted of a criminal offence related to the regulation of the profession. If you have been found guilty of such an offence, you will be asked to provide details.
- If there is a current proceeding for professional misconduct, incompetency or incapacity in Ontario or in another jurisdiction in relation to your practice of massage therapy or another health profession, you will be asked to provide details.
- You must provide any information regarding previous attempts for certification as a massage therapist in Ontario or another jurisdiction.
- If you have made an attempt to pass a licensing examination in Ontario or another jurisdiction that has not yet resulted in a passing grade.
Step 2 - Transcript Request Form
The second form is the Transcript Request Form. You must send this form to the educational institution where you obtained your massage therapy training. If you attended more than one institution and would like the College to review your credentials from more than one massage therapy programme, photocopy the transcript request form and send it to each institution to complete. Each institution must complete the form and send it together with your transcripts and detailed course descriptions directly to the College of Massage Therapists.
Only original documents or copies of original documents that are certified by a Notary Public or Commissioner for Oaths or Affidavits will be accepted. If your institution sends the College documents that are not in English or French, the College will make a copy of the documents they receive and give them to you. You will then have to get the documents translated and certified at your expense and send them back to the College. Once the College receives both completed forms, if you are not residing in an area of the province where you can participate in the College’s prior learning assessment and bridging program, an evaluation of your education will be completed by the College’s evaluator who will submit a report to the College. A copy of the report will be sent to you to determine whether there is any additional information you wish to provide. You will also be asked to provide detailed information about your massage therapy practice since completing your programme. The Registration Committee will then review your application, the evaluator’s report, your response to the report, and the information concerning your employment. The Registration Committee will determine if you have successfully completed a course of study in massage therapy and if the course and your practice since graduation provide equivalent competencies to those taught in the massage therapy programmes in Ontario. To do so, the Committee looks at all of the documentation provided and compares the competencies taught in Ontario with the competencies taught at your institution and acquired in your practice since graduation. There are two outcomes of the credentialing process:
- If your application is assessed "equivalent", your course is considered equivalent to the massage therapy programme currently being taught in Ontario and you are eligible to take the certification examination.
- If your course is assessed "not equivalent", your course is not considered equivalent to the massage therapy programme in Ontario. In this case, you cannot take the Certification Examination. The Registration Committee will inform you of the additional requirements you will have to complete in order to become eligible to take the certification examination.
Step 3 - Standards and Regulations or Additional Study Required
If you completed your education programme outside of Ontario more than three years before the date you applied to the College, you will have to complete a refresher course approved by the College or provide evidence that you have practised for at least 500 hours during the previous three years. If you are required to complete a refresher course, you must complete the registration process within 15 months of completing the course. Please contact the College for more information. The address is provided at the end of this information.
Currently there are no educational institutions in Ontario offering refresher programmes in massage therapy so any refresher training you require must be obtained through tutors approved by the College. A list of approved tutors is available in the Downloads section of the College’s web site.
Therapists trained outside Ontario are required to complete a course on the Standards of Practice and the Regulations and legislation which govern practice in Ontario. This course is available through the College’s web site. The application for the course is available in the Downloads section of the web site.
If you are required to complete other additional study, the College must receive verification from the approved tutor or the school you attend that you have successfully completed the study.
Step 4 - Certification Examination
You can take the College of Massage Therapists Certification Examinations only after your education and practice credentials have been verified as providing equivalent competencies to the Ontario Massage Therapy programme. Note that the examination consists of two parts: a clinical examination and a written examination.
All applicants must pass the Certification Examination. Before you take the examination, please consult the Examination Section of the College’s website at (www.cmto.com/regist/regist1.htm) for detailed information. Currently, there are no educational institutions in Ontario offering examination preparation courses in Massage Therapy so any examination preparation you require must be done with an approved tutor. The College can provide you with a list of approved tutors who can assist you, or you may find the list in the Downloads section of the College web site.
The certification examination has two parts:
- Written Multiple Choice Examination. This examination tests your theoretical knowledge of massage therapy, physiology, anatomy and other related health sciences. It also tests your knowledge of laws and ethical issues necessary to practise massage therapy in Ontario. This examination is a computer-adaptive examination which takes approximately two hours to complete, and is offered at various sites throughout the province. This part may be taken at any time.
- Practical Clinical Examination. This examination requires you to demonstrate your massage therapy skills in a clinical setting. You will encounter scenarios at stations. Each station has a simulated client with a different case history. You will have a short time to review the case history of the client and act accordingly. The clinical examination takes a half day and is held in Toronto at least three times a year. The examination procedure may vary from time to time. Specific details about the examination you will be taking are provided in the Certification Examination Candidate Handbook.
You will have three opportunities to take the examination. If you fail the written or practical examination you may wish to have help from an approved tutor to ensure success on your next attempt. The examination feedback you receive with your score will indicate if you are weak in a particular area and this will assist the tutor in determining how best to prepare you for your next attempt at the examination.
Step 5 - Language Assessment
If your massage therapy training was not in English or French, you must pass a language proficiency test to prove reasonable language fluency. The College considers proof of English fluency to be a minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a score of 213 on the Computerized Test of English as a Foreign Language (C-TOEFL) and a minimum score of 55 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE-P), or the computer scored equivalent. This examination may be taken before or after you come to Canada. For information about taking the TOEFL and TSE examination in Canada, contact the TOEFL/TSE Education Testing Service (ETS). The address is listed at the end of this information. The ETS must send your scores directly to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. The College must receive the scores before you can be registered.
Other fluency tests may be reviewed and approved by the College. Please consult the Language Assessment section of the Becoming a Member area of the College’s web site at www.cmto.com/regist/out.htm for current information on approved fluency tests and required scores. If you require fluency tests in French, please contact the College for information about where to take the tests and the required scores.
Once you have met the requirements in steps 1 to 4 the College will send you an application for registration and information about the documentation you must provide regarding your Canadian citizenship status and liability insurance. If you have not yet received your permanent work authorization at the time you meet all other requirements, please contact the College to discuss ways to resolve this issue.
Voluntary Professional Association
The Ontario Massage Therapist Association (OMTA) is a not-for-profit, voluntary, professional association that represents Registered Massage Therapists in Ontario. The OMTA’s mission is to advocate on behalf of the profession. The OMTA provides information and programming that encourages professional growth and high standards for massage therapists and promotes the profession to the public, government, business and other professions. OMTA members receive a variety of benefits including professional liability insurance, building knowledge within the profession, establishing a community for the profession and working in partnership with members to build and maintain their practices as a business, and subscriptions to the OMTA newsletter and the OMTA-sponsored periodical, Massage Therapy Today. You can contact the association for additional information. Their address and web site are listed at the end of this information.
Labour Market Information
Massage therapy is a growing profession as more people choose to use preventative approaches to health care and to complement traditional types of medical treatments with alternatives. The demand for massage therapists is expected to increase with the growth in the elderly population and the increased awareness of the existence of this health care profession and its health benefits.
Most massage therapists work in private practice. Hours of work vary depending on the requirements of the workplace. Earnings also depend on the workplace and the skill and experience of the massage therapist. Earnings can vary widely. Reported gross incomes (which includes overhead expenses of 40-60 %) typically range from below $30,000 per year to $50,000 per year for those practitioners who, on average, provide nineteen hours of hands on therapy per week.
If you want more information on income for massage therapists in Ontario you can request a Schedule of Services and Fees from the Ontario Massage Therapist Association. Opportunities to work in this field are found in classified advertisements in the Ontario Massage Therapist Association Newsletter, which is published six times per year and on the OMTA web site.
Fees(in Canadian dollars)
|Application for Credentialing||$175|
|Application for Registration||$50|
|Initial Registration Fee (added to examination fee to a maximum of)||$425|
|Annual Registration Fee||$425|
You must also get professional liability insurance before you can register as a Massage Therapist. Preferred rates for insurance are available, as part of membership benefits from the Ontario Massage Therapist Association or the College can give you the names of insurance brokers who provide liability insurance for members of the profession.
For more information on application requirements, examination or fees, contact:
College Of Massage Therapists Of Ontario
1867 Yonge Street, Suite 810
Telephone (416) 489-2626
Toll-free (in Ontario): 1-800-465-1933
Fax: (416) 489-2625
For information on the professional association contact:
Ontario Massage Therapist Association
2 Carlton Street, Suite 1304
Telephone: (416) 979-2010
Toll Free: 1-800-668-2022
Fax: (416) 979-1144
For information on CPR Certificate courses in Ontario contact:
Sheryl Jackson, Ontario Region Representative
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
Telephone: (416) 719-7920
Toll-free fax: 1-877-779-9222
For inquiries about accessing health related professions in Ontario contact:
Access Centre for Internationally
163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5A 1S1
Tel. 416-862-2200 or 1-800-596-4046
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, OCASI
110 Eglinton Avenue West, 2nd Floor
Telephone: (416) 322-4950
Fax: (416) 322-8084
For information on English language proficiency testing, contact:
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, © 2007.