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Archives - State Agencies - Massage Board

[Authorized: NDCC Section 43-25]

The Massage Registration Act was enacted in 1959 creating the North Dakota Board of Massage to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state. The board was to prescribe regulations for the practice of massage, conduct inspections of massage establishments, and make available the necessary requirements for registration of masseurs or masseuses (S.  L. 1959, Ch. 315).

Initially the North Dakota Board of Massage consisted of three masseurs or masseuses who were appointed by the Governor and were recommended by the North Dakota Massage Association. The members served a three year term. Added in 1961 was the position for a bonded secretary-treasurer who would serve as administer for the activities of the board and keep a record of all licensed persons. A biennial report was submitted to the Governor declaring the income and expenses of the board (S. L. 1961, Ch. 291). In 1983 state law changed the names of masseur and masseuse to massage therapist (S. L. 1983, Ch. 486). In 1997 the board began licensing massage therapists rather than issuing certificates of registration, and legislation removed the requirement that board members had to be members of the North Dakota Massage Association (S. L. 1997, Ch. 375). In 2001 the board was increased to five members.  Three licensed as massage therapists served three year staggered terms. The remaining two members were consumers who served two year staggered terms. Consumer members could not be involved in the practice of massage therapy and could not be related to anyone practicing massage therapy. Within a month of appointment board members met to elect a president and secretary-treasurer. Board vacancies were filled by the Governor who could remove a board member for negligence as required by law, for malfeasance in office, or uncomplimentary or unprofessional conduct (S. L. 2001, Ch. 384). In 2009 the board was required to select a vice president and office personal as needed (S. L. 2009, Ch. 371).  

A qualified massage therapist candidate could be eighteen years of age (S. L.1983, Ch. 486), a change from 1959 when twenty-one was the age requirement (S. L.1959, Ch. 315). Massage techniques required licensing by the board. In 1989 the approved techniques of acupressure, reflexology, and polarity were added (S. L. 1989, Ch. 529), and in 2009 techniques of manual and mechanical means of massage and western and eastern modalities were accepted (S. L. 2009, Ch 371). In addition to the fees paid biannually, the massage therapist had to prove that the required units of continuing education had been completed. Some classes could be taken by remote education from board approved programs (S. L. 2003, Ch. 369). In 2009 the qualification for obtaining a license as a massage therapist included completing coursework from a qualified school of massage, passing an oral and/or written exam, and paying all fees required for licensure. A licensee had to show proof of good moral character and temperate habits (S. L. 2009, Ch. 371). A student training to become a massage therapist need not be board licensed while under the supervision of a board licensed massage therapist. Licenses could be obtained through reciprocity if the candidate met the required continuing education units, was continually engaged in the practice for two years prior to applying in North Dakota for a license, and met all board requirements (S. L. 2009, Ch. 371). 

Massage therapist license holders were required to display licenses in a prominent location within the place of business. No person could operate a massage establishment unless the requirements of the board had been met and employees were licensed ( S. L. 2009, Ch. 371).  The board was authorized to inspect each massage establishment and monitor the relationship and interaction between the license holder and the public.


1959       The North Dakota Board of Massage was created to regulate the massage industry.  Three masseurs/masseuses served on the board (S. L. 1959, Ch. 315).

1961       Law amended concerning the bonding of the secretary-treasurer (S. L. 1961, Ch. 291).

1983       A name change to massage therapists replaced the masseur and masseuse. Exemptions from registration defined (S. L. 1983, Ch. 486).

1989       Approved massage techniques were acupressure, reflexology, and polarity. Continuing education replaced three day training requirements for license renewals (S. L. 1989, Ch. 529).

1991       Reflexology was added to massage therapy effective July 1, 1993 (S.L. 1991, Ch. 471).

1993       Board of Reflexology created, but state law still required persons practicing        reflexology to be licensed by the Board of Massage (S. L. 1993, Ch. 439).

1997       Students learning massage therapy need not be licensed while training under a licensed massage therapist (S. L. 1997, Ch. 386).

1997       Licenses replaced certificates of registration. The Board members no longer need to be a member of the North Dakota Massage Therapy Association, but must be licensed in the state.  Board members must be massage therapists (S. L. 1997, Ch. 375).

2001       The board increased to five members of which three must be licensed as massage therapists and two consumers who did not have immediate family who were massage therapist (S. L. 2001, Ch. 284).

2003       A limited number of training units of continuing education could be taken by remote education (S. L. 2003, Ch. 369).

2009       Legislation related to remote education and regulating the practice of massage therapy (S. L. 2009, Ch. 371).

2011       A new subsection on definitions in the field of massage therapy was added (S. L. 2011, Ch. 318).

2013       Legislation was added in the area of licensing.  Also there were changes in the requirements to membership on the Board (S. L. 2013, Ch. 326).

2015       Legislation concerning the North Dakota Board of Massage was changed to include two additional members along with the three licensed massage therapists. Qualifications for the two new appointees included one consumer member unrelated to any field of massage, with no health care licensing entity, or substantial financial interest in massage therapy. These requirements also applied to immediate family members who could not be employed, own, or be affiliated with a massage school. The second new appointee served a two-year term and was required to be an instructor from a licensed school of massage. All Board members were required to work in the state (S.L. 2015, Ch 302). Legislation was also added to the Century Code concerning applicants, licensees, or investigators by requiring criminal history record checks. Responsibility for all costs paid by the applicant or licensee [NDCC 12-60-24].

2017       Legislation amended licensing and regulation of massage therapy requirements and included some changes in definitions and wording (S.L. 2017, Ch. 303).

32442 Minutes

North Dakota Board of Massage Website.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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