In June 2015, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 298, a new law related to massage therapy. The primary purpose of the bill was to increase the number of certified class hours required for Oregon licensure from 500 to 625.

The legislature passed this requirement to increase “portability and reciprocity” of Oregon massage therapy licenses. Prior to bill 298, Oregon required relatively few educational hours for massage licensing. Some states required the same number of hours. For example, every massage school in Michigan must deliver 500 hours of instruction, as the state license requires this minimum. Likewise with many other states’ massage schools.

Colorado requires 500 hours, for instance. However, other states’ standards require significantly more hours of education in massage school. Phoenix massage educational institutions must provide 700 hours of instruction for students to receive state certification. By increasing the number of required hours, bill 298 makes it easier for massage therapists licensed in Oregon to move around the country without compromising their license to practice.

Senate bill 298 also specifies that the high-velocity, short-amplitude technique sometimes used by chiropractors is not considered massage therapy according to state law. Senate Bill 298A also legally exempts the student clinics at colleges and universities from obtaining a massage therapist facilities permit. This addresses an oversight from when legislation enacted in 2013 only exempted private career schools.

Senate bill 298 was enacted with input from our Director of Education, Erika Baern, who delivered testimony to the Oregon House Committee on Health Care. Her testimony summarizes how East West College, the oldest and largest massage therapy program in the state of Oregon, has an 800-hour program that is in line with licensing requirements in many other U.S. states. You can read Erika Baern’s letter in support of the bill describing why it is important to have adequately trained massage therapists to provide safe and effective service.

Senate Bill 298 is an important step in expanding the professionalism of massage therapy in Oregon. Massage is increasingly used for medical reasons beyond stress management. Massage practitioners support the health and well being of individuals with chronic pain, injuries, and disease. Thus, it is paramount that massage certification be taken seriously and given time for proper training and accreditation. Legislative measures such as Senate Bill 298 are a success for the profession.