Discover AMTA - American Massage Therapy Association

Discover AMTA: Elevating Massage Therapy Standards

Massage therapy is more than just a profession; it’s a craft that promotes wellness and balance in people’s lives. For many dedicated massage therapists and students, the AMTA is a key professional association they rely on. It serves as a leader in the massage community, working to ensure high standards that our clients deserve. If you’re new to the world of therapeutic massage, it’s beneficial to become familiar with AMTA and what they have to offer.

What is the AMTA? The AMTA, which stands for American Massage Therapy Association, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the massage profession in the US. Dedicated to supporting, promoting, and empowering its members, this association has consistently fostered the values of ethics, education, and community within the massage industry. Through its efforts, the AMTA guarantees that as therapists, we’re not only meeting the demands of the job but exceeding them, always grounded in the latest research and best practices.

In this comprehensive guide to the AMTA, you’ll learn about the history and mission of the AMTA, the many benefits it offers to its members, and how it consistently works to advance the massage profession. Whether you’re a seasoned therapist or still in massage school, this deep dive into the AMTA will offer insights that can shape your career and enrich your professional journey.

Historical Background

The journey of the American Massage Therapy Association began in 1943 as an open forum meeting of the postgraduate class of the College of Swedish Massage in Chicago. In those early days, a group of passionate individuals recognized the need for a unified voice for massage therapists, understanding the profound benefits massage brought to the table, both for individual well-being and public health. It wasn’t just about kneading muscles; it was about establishing massage therapy as a respected profession, one deserving of recognition and growth.

Over the years, the AMTA saw numerous milestones. From advocating for fair and consistent licensing to ensuring massage schools maintained high standards, the association became a beacon for those in the massage therapy profession. Notably, the AMTA wasn’t just an association that existed in the background. With direct member involvement, it grew from a modest beginning to a massive community. It became the heart of the profession, with local AMTA chapters sprouting across the nation, providing on-ground support and resources.

AMTA’s Timeline & Key Milestones

  1. 1943: The American Association of Masseurs and Masseuses (AAMM) takes root after an inspiring gathering in Chicago.
  2. 1949: The pivotal Massage Registration Act is crafted, marking the start of efforts to provide legal legitimacy to massage therapy.
  3. 1958: AAMM evolves, becoming the American Massage & Therapy Association (AM&TA).
  4. 1960: Marking its commitment to professionalism, the association obtains non-profit status and formulates a dedicated Code of Ethics.
  5. 1983: A name shift to American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) mirrors the growing recognition of massage therapy as a standalone discipline.
  6. 1989: AMTA plants its operational roots by inaugurating its National Office in Chicago.
  7. 1990s: A pivotal decade sees the birth of the National Certification Program and the foundational AMTA Commission on Massage Training Accreditation & Approval (COMTA).
  8. 2006: A strategic pivot leads to the centralization of government relations, targeting uniform licensure across the U.S.
  9. 2010: A visionary statement emerges, spotlighting AMTA members as integral to healthcare and holistic wellness.
  10. 2015: Independent research crowns AMTA massage as the most trusted beacon in the massage therapy domain.
  11. 2018: AMTA’s 75-year legacy is celebrated with groundbreaking research on massage therapy’s efficacy.
  12. 2022: A monumental year sees AMTA’s community flourish, touching a remarkable milestone of 100,000 members.

Perhaps one of the most commendable aspects of the AMTA’s journey is its commitment to public education. The association worked tirelessly to demystify massage therapy, ensuring the public understood its benefits beyond mere relaxation. This educational push wasn’t just limited to clients; massage students were given platforms to learn, evolve, and connect, fortifying the future of the profession.

As the largest non-profit massage therapy association, AMTA’s journey is a testament to the power of community, the importance of professional ethics, and the drive to advance the art and science of massage therapy.

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Mission and Objectives of the AMTA

The American Massage Therapy Association is a cornerstone in the massage industry, representing a long-standing commitment to wellness and therapeutic care. This dedication is shown through its mission and the strategic objectives that guide its actions and initiatives.

Core Mission

The AMTA’s central mission revolves around serving its members and elevating massage therapy for the betterment of society. They aim to “advance the art, science, and practice of massage therapy in a caring, professional, and ethical manner”.

Key Objectives

  1. Fair and Consistent Licensing: Championing for consistent and fair licensing, the AMTA ensures every massage therapist’s rights are upheld and safeguarded.
  2. Public Education: The AMTA is passionate about highlighting the profound therapeutic benefits of massage. They believe massage therapy is an essential path to holistic health.
  3. Direct Member Involvement: The association’s strength derives from its members. Active involvement is emphasized, and the AMTA believes in the community’s power as its success’s backbone.
  4. Support for Massage Schools and Students: The AMTA extends support to massage schools and emerging professionals, ensuring they meet the industry’s highest benchmarks, reflecting their commitment to consistent education.
  5. Advance the Profession: Steadfast in its mission, the AMTA offers myriad educational opportunities and is dedicated to staying at the forefront of the industry’s evolution.

The AMTA remains steadfast in its mission, guiding massage students and therapists with its objectives and upholding its core values of integrity, respect, and dignity. They view massage therapy as an integral component of health care and wellness and are committed to evolving with the ever-growing needs of the community.

AMTA Standards of Practice: A Brief Overview

The American Massage Therapy Association has established a set of Standards of Practice, ensuring that massage and bodywork practitioners provide services that are safe, consistent, and of the highest quality. Here is a brief summary:

1. Professional Conduct: Therapists must adhere to the AMTA Code of Ethics, maintaining consistency and seeking ongoing professional development.

2. Hygiene & Safety: An environment promoting sanitation, hygiene, and safety is paramount, with therapists continuously updating their knowledge on best practices.

3. Client Relationships: Ethical interactions, confidentiality, and open communication form the foundation of the therapist-client relationship. Learn more about therapeutic relationships in massage therapy.

4. Relations with Professionals: Therapists foster relationships of mutual respect with peers and are responsible for reporting any professional discrepancies.

5. Record Keeping: Comprehensive client documentation such as SOAP notes, as well as financial records are diligently maintained.

6. Ethical Marketing: Truthful, transparent, and ethical marketing practices are advocated.

7. Legal Compliance: Adherence to national and local laws related to massage/bodywork is compulsory.

8. Research: Therapists undertaking research maintain high scholarly standards, steering clear of potential biases.

See the AMTA website to learn more about their Standards of Practice as well as the AMTA Code of Ethics.

AMTA Code of Ethics

AMTA Code of Ethics

The AMTA operates with both high professional standards and a deep sense of ethics. The AMTA Code of Ethics outlines the values every member is encouraged to uphold, anchoring the organization in its dedication to its professionals and their clients. Here’s a brief overview:

Principles of Ethics

  • Commitment to Quality: Always provide top-tier massage therapy/bodywork to all clients.
  • Respect and Integrity: Value each individual’s uniqueness, avoiding any form of discrimination.
  • Continuous Growth: Stay updated and self-aware, constantly seeking further education and training.
  • Client Confidentiality: Prioritize the privacy of professional-client relationships, respecting boundaries within legal limits.
  • Professional Image: Uphold a dignified image and maintain the highest echelon of professionalism.
  • Do No Harm: Ensure the well-being of oneself, clients, and colleagues, avoiding any potential harm.

Rules of Ethics

  • Legality: Operate within the scope of practice, adhering to all legal and regulatory guidelines.
  • Avoiding Impropriety: Steer clear of any sexual activities or conduct with clients during therapy sessions.
  • Truthful Marketing: Ensure honest massage marketing and advertising without overstating services, charges, credentials, or results.
  • AMTA’s Brand Integrity: Use the AMTA’s resources, including its name and logo, responsibly and without unauthorized alterations.
  • Confidentiality: Protect proprietary rights and uphold confidentiality commitments to both AMTA and others.

AMTA Membership Benefits

Joining the American Massage Therapy Association means more than just adding your name to a roster. With the AMTA massage, members receive a range of benefits designed to assist, develop, and support massage therapists and students. Considering joining? Here’s what awaits you:

  1. Professional Insurance Coverage: Every massage therapist knows the importance of being protected. AMTA offers top-notch massage liability insurance coverage, safeguarding members against unforeseen circumstances in their practice.
  2. Educational Opportunities and Resources: Knowledge is power. AMTA provides an array of educational resources, from webinars to hands-on workshops. For massage students, these resources can be a game-changer, providing insights and techniques that can shape a successful career.
  3. Networking Events and National Conventions: Nothing beats the experience of meeting like-minded professionals, sharing stories, and learning from one another. AMTA’s networking events and their much-anticipated National Convention offer such opportunities in abundance.
  4. Access to Research and Industry Updates: Stay ahead of the curve. AMTA ensures members are always in the know, offering access to the latest research and updates in the massage therapy profession.
  5. Advocacy and Representation: When it comes to legislative issues, AMTA is at the forefront, representing the interests of massage therapists. With a commitment to fair and consistent licensing, they ensure that the voice of every therapist is heard and their rights protected.
  6. Local AMTA Chapters: These local chapters serve as mini-communities, offering support, resources, and a sense of belonging. Being part of a local chapter means having a network right in your backyard, ready to assist, guide, and collaborate.
  7. AMTA Events: Apart from the major conventions, there are numerous other AMTA events tailored to address specific needs, topics, and trends. These events are golden opportunities for both seasoned therapists and students to engage and evolve.

Being a member of the AMTA means being part of a larger family, one that’s committed to your growth, well-being, and success in the massage world. With a range of benefits designed with care and precision, it’s clear why so many in the profession choose to align themselves with the AMTA.

AMTA Continuing Education

Education and Training

In the evolving profession of massage therapy, staying current through continued education and training remain crucial. The AMTA understands the significance of adapting to industry changes and ensuring therapists offer the best care. To address this, they’ve developed a comprehensive educational framework for their extensive community.

Role in Setting Educational Standards

The AMTA actively participates in shaping massage education, setting rigorous standards for massage schools as well as continuing education (CE) course providers. Their commitment ensures that every therapist, from experienced professionals to newcomers, receives an excellent educational foundation.

AMTA’s National Convention

The AMTA National Convention stands as the annual highlight, bringing together industry experts, seasoned therapists, and enthusiastic massage students. At this event, participants can expect:

  • Interactive workshops where hands-on techniques are demonstrated.
  • Sessions where the latest research findings are discussed, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
  • Networking opportunities that can lead to mentorships, partnerships, or even new career paths.

Webinars, Workshops, and Online Resources

  • Webinars: Regularly scheduled webinars cover a spectrum of topics, from new massage modalities to business best practices.
  • Workshops: These provide a more intimate setting for learning, often with smaller groups and direct interaction with trainers.
  • Online Resources: For those who prefer self-paced learning, AMTA’s digital library is brimming with articles, videos, and online courses tailored for every stage of a therapist’s journey.

Scholarships & Awards

The AMTA understands the financial challenges of education and aims to help. Massage students and therapists have access to several scholarships, and the association also honors outstanding contributions to the massage therapy field with awards.

The AMTA’s educational philosophy is straightforward: offer top-notch instruction, stay current, and make sure every therapist, at any career stage, possesses the necessary resources and understanding to excel. By supporting education, the AMTA underscores its commitment to the future of massage therapy.

Looking for scholarship opportunities? Visit our massage scholarship page.

The essence of the AMTA’s approach to education is clear: provide quality, stay updated, and ensure every therapist, no matter where they are in their massage career, has the tools and knowledge to thrive. Investing in education is an investment in the future of the massage therapy profession, and the AMTA is firmly committed to this vision.

Research and Publications

In any profession, staying updated with the latest research is important, and massage therapy is no exception. The AMTA recognizes the significance of grounding the practice in evidence-based findings, ensuring massage therapists can provide effective and evidence-based treatments to their clients.

The Significance of Research

Research in massage therapy is more than gathering information. It focuses on understanding the nuances of the field, identifying innovative techniques, and ensuring client safety and the success of treatments. As the field consistently sees new methods and findings, it’s vital for therapists to stay current to provide the highest quality care and continue their professional growth.

AMTA-Supported Journals and Publications

The AMTA goes beyond supporting research; it actively shares its findings with its community. Here’s how:

  • Journals: Regular publications, filled with peer-reviewed articles, offer insights into the latest trends, research studies, case studies, and findings in the massage world.
  • Publications: From newsletters to special feature articles, AMTA ensures that its members have a wealth of reading material at their fingertips. These publications bridge the gap between research and practical application, ensuring therapists can incorporate new knowledge into their practices with ease.
  • Massage Therapy Journal: AMTA’s official publication, dedicated to providing its readers with the latest advancements in massage techniques, business practices, and research insights to enhance their professional journey and practice. This quarterly magazine is a vital resource for massage therapists, blending evidence-based articles with practical advice to empower its audience in their ongoing development.

Noteworthy Research Initiatives

The association has been a part of numerous groundbreaking studies, some of which have shaped the way we view massage therapy today. These studies touch on diverse areas, from pain management to the psychological impacts of massage, proving the multifaceted benefits of this therapeutic approach.

Through its commitment to research and publications, the AMTA ensures that the massage therapy profession is not stagnant. It’s a dynamic, ever-evolving field, continually refined and improved upon by dedicated professionals seeking the best for their clients and the broader community.

Advocacy and Government Relations

The path of massage therapy, like any profession, is intertwined with legislative processes and regulations. But for the individual massage therapist or student, navigating this landscape can be daunting. This is where the AMTA’s advocacy and government relations efforts come into play, acting as a beacon and guide for its community.

Representing Massage Therapists

The AMTA represents and strengthens the collective voice of massage therapists. By interacting with state and federal governments, the association makes sure that the concerns and needs of massage professionals are prioritized in decisions. They advocate for:

  • Fair and consistent licensing, so every therapist, regardless of where they practice, meets a recognized standard of excellence.
  • Direct member involvement, allowing those in the field to have a say in policies that impact them.
  • Recognizing and promoting the health benefits of massage, ensuring its place in holistic health care models.

Key Legislative Milestones

Over the years, the AMTA’s persistent advocacy efforts have resulted in several legislative victories. These range from state-specific licensing reforms to broader federal acknowledgments of massage therapy’s role in health and wellness.

Importance of Advocacy

Beyond the tangible wins, advocacy work reinforces the legitimacy and professional standing of massage therapy. It creates a framework where therapists operate with dignity, where their services are valued, and where the public can access massage therapy with trust and confidence.

The AMTA’s commitment to advocacy and government relations focuses on building a promising and inclusive future for the massage therapy profession. They work to ensure that the industry’s growth and evolution receive legislative support and acknowledgment.

Community Involvement and Outreach

The massage therapy profession thrives on its dedication to community. The AMTA strives to serve its members by initiating positive changes in the broader society.

Health and Well-being Commitment

The AMTA goes beyond just advocating for massage therapists and massage students; it’s fervently dedicated to fostering good health and well-being in communities. Through initiatives like free massage events, wellness drives, and collaborations with other health organizations, the association educates the public about the manifold benefits of massage, both for the body and the mind.

Outreach Programs

Building bridges with diverse communities is essential. The AMTA has orchestrated numerous outreach programs, targeting groups ranging from veterans to those in assisted living facilities. These endeavors aren’t just about offering a massage session but also about forging connections, offering solace, and, in many cases, providing a healing touch to those who need it most.

Collaborations and Partnerships

Working in tandem with other health-related organizations magnifies the impact of the AMTA’s efforts. By joining hands with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and even schools, the association extends its influence, weaving massage therapy into broader health narratives and promoting its holistic advantages.

Charitable Initiatives

At its core, the AMTA believes in giving back. Whether it’s by sponsoring events, fundraising for health causes, or directly engaging in community service, the association embodies the principle that the true essence of massage therapy is, above all, an act of care and compassion.

Through community involvement and outreach, the AMTA cements its place not just within the professional confines of massage therapy but also in the heart of the community it serves, ensuring a legacy of health, connection, and genuine care.


Comparison with Other Organizations

Within the broader landscape of the massage therapy profession, numerous professional associations and bodies represent the interests of therapists, educators, and students. However, each has its distinct focus, methodology, and goals. While the AMTA stands out with its long history and deep-rooted involvement in advocacy, it’s essential to understand its unique attributes compared to other organizations.

The sections below compare and contrast the AMTA vs. ABMP, FSMTB and NCBTMB. *Understanding the differences and roles of these professional organizations is also important for massage students and therapists preparing for the MBLEx exam, because you may see a question or two about this.

How AMTA Stands Out

  • Non-profit Organization: AMTA is the largest non-profit dedicated to the massage therapy profession. This status ensures that its actions and decisions prioritize the community’s best interests over financial gains.
  • Broad Spectrum Representation: While some organizations might cater solely to professionals or just schools, AMTA covers the gamut – from massage students to established therapists and even institutions.
  • In-depth Research & Publications: The AMTA’s commitment to research and the dissemination of knowledge, as evidenced by its range of publications and journals, is unparalleled.
  • Dedication to Advocacy: Few organizations can match the legislative influence and victories achieved by the AMTA in both state and federal realms.


One of the common comparisons made is between the AMTA and the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). Here’s a breakdown:

Mission Focus: While both bodies aim to advance the massage therapy profession, ABMP leans more towards service provision and insurance options for its members, while AMTA places a higher emphasis on advocacy, research, and community outreach.

Membership Packages: ABMP offers a more streamlined membership structure with fewer categories compared to the multi-tiered AMTA memberships, which cater to diverse needs, from students to schools.

Community Engagement: AMTA’s focus on community health, outreach, and charitable events is more pronounced, making it a significant player in broader health narratives.


When looking at industry bodies, another comparison often drawn is between the AMTA and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Here’s a breakdown:

Mission Focus: Both organizations are dedicated to the advancement of the massage therapy profession. However, FSMTB primarily focuses on creating standardized regulations and the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) for massage therapists to ensure public safety, while AMTA emphasizes advocacy, research, and community engagement.

Membership Packages: FSMTB doesn’t operate on a traditional membership model like AMTA. Instead, it works in collaboration with state boards and agencies to maintain consistent licensing standards and procedures. AMTA, on the other hand, offers a range of memberships to cater to various needs, from students to professionals.

Community Engagement: AMTA stands out with its emphasis on community health, outreach, and charitable events, positioning itself as a key influencer in the overall health discourse. FSMTB, while essential, is more centered around regulatory and licensing concerns.


In the realm of massage therapy associations, a frequent comparison emerges between the AMTA and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). Here’s a breakdown:

Mission Focus: While AMTA is deeply vested in advocacy, research, and community outreach, NCBTMB’s primary focus is to uphold and elevate the standards of the profession through their board certification exam (BCETMB), advanced massage credentials, and continuing education.

Membership Packages: NCBTMB operates on a certification model, where massage therapists can obtain and renew board certification by meeting specific criteria and continuing education requirements. AMTA, conversely, offers a multi-faceted membership system, addressing the diverse needs of everyone from students to practitioners.

Community Engagement: AMTA has a distinct emphasis on community health, outreach, and charitable activities, positioning it as a prominent advocate in health and wellness discussions. NCBTMB, while playing a vital role in the industry, is more centered around educational advancements and professional development.

Collaborations & Partnerships

The AMTA collaborates with various associations, schools, and health entities as it aims to uplift the massage therapy profession. By working together, they solidify the role of massage therapy in holistic health care.

Many organizations make notable contributions to the massage therapy field. However, AMTA stands out due to its combination of advocacy, community engagement, and emphasis on research, leaving a lasting impact on the profession.

Massage therapist standing by massage table

How to Join AMTA Massage

Joining the AMTA community is a significant move for anyone in the massage therapy profession. It provides numerous benefits and represents a commitment to an organization that passionately supports massage therapists, schools, and students. So, how can you become a part of this respected association?

Steps to Become a Member of AMTA

1. Visit the Official AMTA Website: Head over to their online portal. This is your primary source for membership details, benefits, and the actual application process.

2. Choose Your Membership Type: Depending on where you stand in your career, you’ll select from several membership categories:

  • Student Memberships: (Free) Tailored for those still in massage schools, looking to learn and grow before they step into professional practice.
  • Professional Memberships: $235/year or $20/month. For established massage therapists seeking a network, resources, and the myriad of benefits that AMTA offers. Recent graduates may join for $89 or $8/month for their first year.
  • School Memberships: Institutions keen on aligning their curriculum, resources, and ethos with the AMTA’s standards can opt for this category.

3. Complete the Application: Each membership type will have its specific requirements. Ensure you have all necessary documentation, credentials, and any other prerequisites handy.

4. Membership Fees: While the fee varies based on the membership type, it’s a worthwhile investment considering the plethora of resources, advocacy, and opportunities that come with being part of AMTA.

5. Stay Updated: Once you’ve submitted your application and made the payment, keep an eye on your email. The AMTA will notify you of your membership status, and once approved, you’ll get details on how to make the most of your membership.

AMTA Renewal Process

Renewing your membership is straightforward. You’ll get a reminder before your renewal date. Simply visit the website, sign in, and follow the instructions to renew. By maintaining your active membership, you continue to enjoy benefits, attend events, and stay connected with the association’s expanding network.

In Summary

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has been a steadfast ally for both massage therapists and students. Its history has influenced the direction of massage therapy, and today it actively engages in research, education, and advocacy, solidifying its central role in the industry.

With its wide array of membership perks, promotion of high professional standards, and encouragement of community participation, AMTA consistently drives progress in the domain. For those in the massage profession, associating with AMTA provides a direct route to development, insight, and a strong community bond.


Are there any specialized training programs or certifications offered by AMTA for niche massage therapy techniques?

The AMTA offers specialized training programs and courses tailored to niche massage therapy techniques. These programs often cover areas like sports massage, prenatal massage, deep tissue techniques, cupping therapy, and more, ensuring therapists have a comprehensive skill set to cater to diverse client needs.

Is there a mentorship program within AMTA for new massage therapists to connect with experienced professionals?

Yes, the AMTA offers a mentorship program designed to connect new massage therapists with seasoned professionals in the field. This initiative facilitates knowledge exchange, provides guidance, and helps newcomers navigate the early stages of their massage therapy careers.

What kind of support does AMTA provide for massage students in terms of job placements after graduation?

The AMTA provides robust support for massage students through its job board, which lists opportunities in various therapeutic settings, and by organizing job fairs at its national conventions and events. Additionally, its network of members and affiliates often results in peer-to-peer job referrals and introductions to potential employers.

Does AMTA have any initiatives or programs focused on the wellness and self-care of massage therapists themselves?

Absolutely, the AMTA emphasizes the well-being of massage therapists through initiatives like wellness workshops, massage self-care seminars, and resources dedicated to promoting the physical and mental health of therapists, recognizing that their optimal health is essential for delivering quality care to clients.

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