15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in North Carolina in 2024 | How to Apply

Are you in search of the best massage therapy schools in North Carolina? Search no more; we’ve got you covered.

This article fully reviews the best massage therapy schools in North Carolina, including the requirements, cost & how to apply to these schools.

Are you looking for a new job? Do you enjoy interacting with others? Or have you always wanted to be a massage therapist and wondered what the requirements are in North Carolina?

North Carolina has 21 massage therapy schools. Some are solely dedicated to bodywork, while others provide various career options. There are private institutes as well as public community colleges.

All schools issue certificates, which typically take less than a year to complete. Some campuses offer two-year associate degrees. Students take classes and labs and gain hands-on experience in clinics.

Massage therapy is a rewarding career in the state of North Carolina. You can sunbathe on the beach while earning a living on your days off. 

The area is rich in cultural, sports, and outdoor activities, allowing you to enjoy your weekends while working with people.

Keep reading for all the info you need to know to become a massage therapist in NC!

See Also: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in New York City| Ranking

Are there Massage Therapy Schools in North Carolina?

There are many massage therapy schools in North Carolina. Some of these therapy schools are listed below:

  • 1. Wake Technical Community College
  • 2. Pitt Community College
  • 3. Gaston College
  • 4. Johnston Community College
  • 5. Forsyth Technical Community College
  • 6. Davidson County Community College
  • 7. Southwestern Community College
  • 8. Sandhills Community College
  • 9. Lenoir Community College
  • 10. Carteret Community College
  • 11. Tri-County Community College
  • 12. Southeastern Institute-Charlotte
  • 13. Platt College-Miller-Motte-Cary
  • 14. Living Arts College
  • 15. Gwinnett College

How Does One Become A Massage Therapist in North Carolina?

A high school diploma or a GED is required to become a massage therapist in North Carolina. Schools with competitive admissions policies may prefer high school students who have taken college-level health and science classes.

A student must enroll in an accredited postsecondary school approved by the state board.

The curriculum must include at least 500 clock hours of classes and clinics, which should include the following:

  • Anatomy, physiology, and pathology for 100 hours
  • Massage theory and application, contraindications, body mechanics, and hygiene are all covered in 200 hours.
  • Instruction in client-therapist relationships, boundaries, communication, and the mind-body connection for 20 hours.
  • 15 hours of legal and ethical instruction
  • 15 business practices hours
  • Much of the remaining time could be spent performing massages at a student clinic or a private establishment. Massage techniques covered by programs vary. Some teach students how to start and run a business.
  • Graduates must apply to the board for state licenses to practice. To qualify, they must pass two tests. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) administers the Massage Board Licensing Examination (MBLEx), which costs around $200. At Pearson VUE testing centers, students take the exam on computers.
  • The second requirement is passing a jurisprudence exam, which tests an applicant’s knowledge of North Carolina massage therapy laws.
  • To renew their licenses, practitioners must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years.

What are the Best Massage Therapy Schools in North Carolina?

We selected the institutions below based on their courses, accreditation, student population, graduation rate, and reputation.

1. Wake Technical Community College

  • Graduation Rate-18%
  • Student Population-21872

This university offers a certificate program on its Perry Health Sciences Campus in Raleigh.

The curriculum includes 688 hours of massage classes, 144 hours of science, 48 hours of English, 48 hours of psychology, and 57 hours of hands-on experience. 

A nutrition course is also available. Participants in the program perform 55-minute massages in a student clinic and chair and sports massages at community events.

The 12-month program consists of two semesters and 33 credit hours. It meets or exceeds state requirements. 

The class size is restricted to 20 students. Classes begin in July. For its graduates, the school offers continuing education classes.

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2. Pitt Community College

  • Graduation Rate-22%
  • Student Population-8185

Pitt, a public high school in Winterville, offers a diploma program and an associate in applied science degree.

The curricula include all of the courses required by state authorities. Therapeutic massage, nutrition, and psychology are among the topics covered by students. “Selected therapy approaches throughout the life span” are taught in classes.

The diploma program consists of 43 credit hours and is completed in four semesters of full-time study. 

Also, CPR Certification, Therapeutic Massage Management, General Psychology, Writing & Inquiry, and College Student Success are among the courses offered.

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Read More: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Florida|Ranking

3. Gaston College

  • Graduation Rate-31%
  • Student Population-5362

This Dallas community college offers a variety of massage therapy programs.

Six hundred fifty-six clock hours and 40 credits are required for a three-semester diploma program. A massage practitioner certificate program is made up of 27 credit hours. 

A spa specialization in either program includes certificate courses in esthetics technology.

An associate in applied science degree requires 69 credit hours to complete. College Student Success, Writing & Inquiry, General Psychology, Interpersonal Communication, Outcome Based Massage, Yoga, Developmental Psychology, and a humanities or fine arts elective are among the classes offered. 

Neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques are all taught to students.

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4. Johnston Community College

  • Graduation Rate-39%
  • Student Population-4047

This Smithfield school offers two full-time massage therapy programs: day classes and evening clinics.

A certificate program is made up of 32 credit hours. It includes the state-mandated subjects, “therapeutic approaches throughout the lifespan,” “outcome-based massage,” and “therapeutic massage management.” 

The school’s Spa & Wellness Clinic provides chair and relaxation massages.

Interpersonal Psychology, Personal Health & Wellness, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Sociology, and Music Appreciation or Critical Thinking are all part of a 62-credit degree program. Sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques are all taught to students.

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5. Forsyth Technical Community College

  • Graduation Rate-19%
  • Student Population-7779

FTCC’s main campus in Winston-Salem offers certificates and associate degrees in applied science.

A certificate requires 37 credits earned over three semesters. The curriculum meets state requirements, including classes like Writing & Inquiry, General Psychology or Interpersonal Psychology, and an English elective. 

Applicants with low SAT or ACT scores must take placement tests.

The AAS program consists of 69 credit hours spread across five semesters. College Student Success, Therapeutic Massage Management, Human Relations, Work-Based Learning, and an elective in humanities or fine arts are among the other courses available. 

Also, students study advanced techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage and outcome-based massage.

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6. Davidson County Community College

  • Graduation Rate-32%
  • Student Population-3654

This school primarily serves students from the counties of Davidson and Davie. Massage therapy programs are offered on the Thomasville campus.

Students receive certificates after completing 37 credits in three semesters. Aside from the state-mandated classes, there are core courses in Therapeutic Massage Management, Writing & Inquiry, and General Psychology.

A five-semester, 66-credit associate in applied science degree is another option. It includes the same curriculum as the certificate program and Nutrition, Intro to Interpersonal Communications, Outcome-Based Massage, Critical Thinking, Intro to Sociology, and Fit and Well for Life classes.

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Read More: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Houston|Ranking

7. Southwestern Community College

  • Graduation Rate-41%
  • Student Population-2366

SCC, located in Sylva, offers certificates and associate degrees in applied science.

The 616-hour, 40-credit certificate program is divided into two semesters of 12 months of evening classes. 

Students take Writing & Inquiry, Introduction to Computers, Therapeutic Massage Management, and General Psychology in addition to the state-mandated courses. In an on-campus clinic, they provide Swedish and chair massages.

The 73-credit AAS program includes classes in College Student Success, Professional Research & Reporting, Critical Thinking, Outcome-Based Massage, Nutrition, and Developmental Psychology over five semesters. Students learn all about neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.

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8. Sandhills Community College

  • Graduation Rate-21%
  • Student Population-4018

This Pinehurst school has one of the state’s oldest massage therapy programs. In two programs, students learn traditional and Asian concepts.

The standard coursework is delivered through a three-semester, 41-credit-hour certificate program. 

Additional classes include success and study skills, general psychology, writing and inquiry, and therapeutic massage management. 

A five-semester associate in applied science program includes general education courses, Small Business Management, Advanced Massage Skills, Outcome Based Massage, and electives in physical education, communications, humanities, and fine arts.

At an on-campus clinic, students provide Swedish, sports, and pregnancy massages, as well as reflexology treatments.

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Read More: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in New Jersey|Ranking

9. Lenoir Community College

  • Graduation Rate-19%
  • Student Population-2693

Massage therapy education is available at two levels at this Kinston school.

A certificate program with 750 clock hours and 34 credit hours takes nine months to complete in day classes. 

Students take introductory courses and classes in Human Relations, Nutrition, and College Student Success. 

In addition, three general education courses are available: Writing & Inquiry, General Psychology, and Public Speaking.

A bachelor’s degree in applied science requires 1,000 hours and 70 credits. There are day and evening class schedules available. 

The curriculum includes all of the classes from the certificate program, as well as more advanced massage therapy training.

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10. Carteret Community College

  • Graduation Rate-36%
  • Student Population-1390

This Morehead City school grants certificates and associate degrees in applied science. The 9-month, 688-hour certificate program is available full- or part-time, with classes held during the day or evening.

The AAS program is a five-semester, 66-credit-hour program that includes the same state-mandated classes as the certificate curriculum. 

Furthermore, writing & Inquiry, Critical Thinking or Cultural Studies, General Psychology or Interpersonal Psychology, Public Speaking, and Introduction to Sociology are also required.

The AAS program accepts fewer than 14 students, who must pass English and reading placement tests or take college-prep courses. There is a student clinic on campus.

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11. Tri-County Community College

  • Graduation Rate-26%
  • Student Population-963

TCCC, which is located in Murphy, provides two massage therapy options.

A two-semester, 44-credit-hour certificate program meets state requirements. Outcome-Based Massage, Writing & Inquiry, and a psychology course are also required. 

In an Advanced Skills of Massage class, they learn neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.

General education requirements are supplemented by a five-semester, 72-credit-hour associate in an applied science program. 

College Student Success, Basic PC Literacy or Computer Concepts, Math Measurement & Literacy, Professional Research & Reporting, and Nutrition are also required. The class size is limited to ten students.

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Read More: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Georgia|Ranking

12. Southeastern Institute-Charlotte

  • Graduation Rate-77%
  • Student Population-230

The Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy was founded in 1994 as a for-profit institution. It has since grown to include two South Carolina campuses and various programs.

The 900-hour MT certificate curriculum can be completed in eight months full-time or 12 months part-time. 

Furthermore, Swedish massage, cranial sacral therapy, Thai massage, and other Eastern techniques are taught, as well as lymphatic drainage, medical massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, reflexology, breath work, Ayurvedic medicine, and nutrition.

During 100 hours in a student clinic, program participants provide 50-minute massages to actual clients. For its graduates, the school offers continuing education classes.

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13. Platt College-Miller-Motte-Cary

  • Graduation Rate-44%
  • Student Population-377

MMC is a Platt College branch with Cary, Fayetteville, and Wilmington campuses. The school, founded in 1916, offers a massage therapy certificate program that students can complete in as little as eight months.

Swedish, therapeutic, seated, sports, and unique massage techniques are taught in classes. Spa techniques, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Thai massage, craniosacral therapy, and reflexology are all covered in an Energy-Based Modalities class.

Aromatherapy & Hydrology, Somatic Psychology, College Mathematics, and Organizational Dynamics are also offered to students. 

Also, they work at the school’s massage teaching clinic for 140 hours, administering at least 54 treatments.

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Read More: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Atlanta |Ranking

14. Living Arts College

  • Graduation Rate-56%
  • Student Population-243

Raleigh’s small, private school also operates as the Winston-Salem Living Arts Institute. It provides three medical certificate programs, one in massage therapy.

The curriculum, which students can complete in as little as 12 months, teaches a variety of bodywork modalities. 

Also, Swedish massage, integrated deep tissue massage, reflexology, sports massage, neuromuscular therapy, and Shiatsu are among the techniques available. Graduates receive complimentary portable massage tables.

The student-to-teacher ratio at the school is an impressive 10:1. Minorities, primarily African-Americans, account for approximately two-thirds of the student body.

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15. Gwinnett College

  • Graduation Rate-63%
  • Student Population-159

This campus, formerly known as the Medical Arts School, is one of six owned by LTT Enterprises Inc. Gwinnett offers a massage therapy certificate.

Students receive state-mandated instruction as well as additional services. Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, chair massage, reflexology, and sports massage are among the techniques they learn. 

Participants in the program provide one-hour, 90-minute, and two-hour massages to the public at a student clinic. 

Diplomas in professional massage therapy are awarded to graduates; the school assists with job placement, other career services, and continuing education classes for practitioners.

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Also Read-15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Dallas TX |Ranking

How Long are Massage Therapy Schools in North Carolina?

Massage therapy is currently licensed and regulated in North Carolina by The North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy (NCBMBT). 

To become a massage therapist in North Carolina, you must attend a board-approved massage therapy school for at least 500 hours. 

Depending on whether you want to study full-time or part-time, different schools offer programs that last 6 to 12 months.

How Much are Massage Therapy Schools in North Carolina?

It is not cheap to study to become a massage therapist. Tuition at each school varies, ranging from $8,500 to $15,000, which may or may not include books and supplies. 

You can apply for grants and scholarships, and if you are in the military or a military spouse, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will cover massage therapy tuition and supporting fees at an eligible school. 

So there are options to help pay for tuition; all you have to do is look.

How Much Do Massage Therapists Make in North Carolina?

The average practitioner in this state can expect to earn around $39,600 per year or more than $19 per hour. This is slightly less than the national median, approximately $41,400 per year or $20 per hour.

The top 10% earn more than $59,100 (about $28.50) in North Carolina, which is less than the national average of about $78,300 (about $37.60). 

Furthermore, the lowest 10 percent take in around $22,400 or $10.80 in the state, better than over $21,300 or about $10.25 nationally.

In 2016, North Carolina employed 5,100 massage therapists. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase to 6,560 by 2026. That would be a 29 percent increase, exceeding the projected 26 percent national increase.


Massage therapy is not for everyone. It’s demanding on all levels: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s simple! Every day, you deal with people one-on-one. It can be messy, stinky, disgusting, and demanding while also being beautiful, exhilarating, and satisfying. 

Also, don’t go into massage expecting to make much money. Some massage schools tell students this, and as a result, they graduate with unrealistic expectations. 

It is possible to make a good living as a massage therapist, but it may take some time. Setting up a massage therapy practice with all the licenses, equipment, and other fees can be daunting, especially if you have student debt. 

Finding an experienced massage therapist to talk to and mentor you would be invaluable, and I strongly advise you to do so. Find someone with a thriving full-time practice whose work you admire or enjoy.


What is the highest degree of massage therapy in North Carolina?

The highest voluntary credential available to massage therapists is board certification.

Can I massage without a license in NC?

In the state of North Carolina, licensure is a legal requirement. Those who practice massage and bodywork therapy without a license after January 1, 2001, violate GS 90-634 of the Practice Act and may face disciplinary action or prosecution.

Is draping required for massage in NC?

When the client is fully clothed, draping is not required. Drape the gluteal cleft, genital areas, and female breasts at all times.


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