Who regulates and accredits massage schools?
Massage therapy schools are accredited by massage school accreditation agencies. Accreditation is done to ensure the instruction provided by a massage therapy school meets the levels of quality set forth by the professional in the industry. Massage therapy accrediting agencies are private associations which evaluate a school’s credentials through regional evaluation criteria set by their board of directors. Any massage therapy school which request accreditation by such an agency is evaluated to confirm they meet the set criteria. If they meet those criteria they are eligible to be "accredited" by the agency.
There are both independent and federally sanctioned massage therapy accreditation boards. Some of the accreditation boards which are federally sanctioned include the NACCAS or National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences, the ACCET or Accrediting Council of Continuing Education and Training, and COMTA or Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation.
All of the agencies and organizations that regulate and accredit massage therapy schools set guidelines for how a school should prepare their students to be properly skilled and licensed massage therapists. All the guidelines set forth by massage therapy school accrediting should enhance the education they provide and maintain high levels of professional excellence in the field of massage. An accredited massage therapy school should produce graduates who will work at healing, not harming the public, and accreditation procedures for massage schools is important to achieve just that.
Schools which are accredited by federally sanctioned accreditation organizations are allowed to offer their students federal financial aid. Most schools accredited by an independent accrediting agency or organization cannot offer their students federal financial aid to attend their school. This can be useful information in selecting a school if you are in need of financial assistance to pay for tuition.
Massage therapy schools are not only regulated by accreditation agencies. Currently there more than 30 states which have state regulated legal requirements which must be met by massage therapy schools to legally operate in a given area. State agencies regulate these schools in regards to what they teach and how many hours of education are required for student to be eligible to successfully pass massage courses and get licensed. They also set standards for the grades and the amount of hands-on training hours required for successful course completion.
Check to see if the state your school is in has state regulations for massage therapy schools. If so, find out what the standards are they have set and make sure any school you are considering in the area meets these requirements before you enroll.