FAQ General Questions


We present our curriculum with a unique blend of theory and practice geared to help students learn. Book knowledge and hands-on application classes are integrated to maximize students’ understanding and retention of knowledge and technique. The curriculum is challenging, creative, and achievable, and empowers the students with confidence to achieve their ultimate goal of getting a license and obtaining employment.


We offer a comprehensive curriculum to ensure that our students have a solid foundation as they pursue their new career. Our program takes a well-rounded approach to massage therapy and includes a variety of massage modalities. The interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit are explored and incorporated into classes. Because of this inclusive approach, our graduates will be uniquely equipped to pursue rewarding careers in private practice, spas, health clubs, and medical settings or to create their own business opportunities in today’s ever-changing marketplace.


Our small class size ensures personal attention to each student’s needs and allows students to reach their full learning potential. Small student groups are typically more team oriented, support each other more readily, and work together towards their educational goals.


Experienced people in the field have commented that you can tell students from certain schools the moment they lay their hands on you. That’s because many schools use a cookie-cutter approach to teaching and recruit instructors from their pool of graduates. The Ultimate Massage Spa Training Academy feels this is a very limiting concept. We want students to develop their own unique style but at the same time we make sure that they will have the technical/clinical skills that are in demand today. We accomplish this by hiring talented, gifted instructors that poses the same skill sets that they are asked to teach. Our students will have the unique advantage by being affiliated with Ultimate Massage Spa in the same facility offering them access to the best practicing massage therapist in the industry.


As important as massage and bodywork skills are, more is needed to ensure long-term success. Unfortunately there are many talented therapists with no clientele and success is not guaranteed because of knowledge of anatomy and muscles. Attracting and retaining clients and being successful take a whole new set of skills. Our professional development program will focus on developing the necessary technical skill sets so our graduates will have a base skill set that will be comparable to most organizations current licensed professionals. We strongly believe the key to a successful career in massage therapy industry is having a set of great technical skills along with a good understanding of the functionality of the human body.


Our supervised clinic program will reach out to high schools, colleges, senior centers, fitness training centers, women groups, hospitals, and local media sponsored events. Our student clinic and outreach program give students a well-rounded, enriched hands-on experience.


We will make career counseling and job placement available to students for life. Our electronic distribution system will notify students and graduates of job openings within seconds after they become known to us and we will work closely with students on their individual career goals.


Our tuition is affordable and is less them what most other schools charge. We are able to offer superior education at competitive pricing by not participating in federal financial aid and the costs it imposes on schools. Students can pay up front at a discount, or spread tuition over the course of the program or longer.


Our school will provide an advantage to all our students by having access to licensed and practicing massage therapist in the same facility, they will be able to draw on their critical skills when doing the clinical portion of their training. Our graduates will have the skills they need and the confidence to walk from the classroom into the workplace and do extremely well.


We feel we have the best location in the Chicago Market. We are situated in the southwest of Chicago in Orland Park, walking distance to a train station as well as all the shopping centers within one mile of our school. Interstates expressway systems. I-80, I-355, I-55 and I-294 are minutes away from our location.


We built our class schedules around our students’ unique lifestyles. Our schedule offers include both accelerated and part-time programs.

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I want to become a massage therapist. What are the requirements?

To qualify for licensing in Illinois, an applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age and of good moral character(*).
  • Have successfully completed 600 hours of training at a state-approved school (**).
  • Have passed the National Certification Exam or the Massage Bodywork Licensing Exam (Note: the National Certification Exam is no longer available for the purposes of licensing; this requirement is only applicable to those applicants who took the exam prior to October 21, 2014)

(*) The department determines “good moral character” by conducting electronic fingerprint verification. Applicants must submit fingerprint information to the state police through a state-approved vendor.
(**) Schools must meet certain educational and other criteria in order to qualify

For additional information for massage therapy licensing in Illinois, please click the “Laws and Rules” link on the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website.

Licensing requirements vary from state to state and in absence of state licensing requirements, municipalities may have their own licensing requirements. For a list of state requirements please visit the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals public education website.

Do I need to go to college to become licensed massage therapist?

Typically, a state-approved school which specializes in massage therapy training and has a Diploma program with at least 600 hours is sufficient.

How is the demand for massage therapists?

Demand for massage therapists is at an all-time high and is continuing to grow. There are many reasons for this growth, such as the aging population of the United States, the public’s changing view on health and wellness, the state of the health care and health insurance system, to name a few. Massage Therapy, along with allied health professions, has been identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the top-growing professions in the United States in the next decade.

Once limited to upscale salons and spas, massage therapy is now ubiquitous. Massage therapists can be found working at spas, salons, hospitals, clinics, alternative health care settings, cruise ships, dental and medical spas, airports, as well as at corporations that offer massage therapy services to their employees. Some massage therapists work as employees, while most work as private practitioners and independent contractors.

Although the number of massage therapists in our industry has increased in the past few years, demand for quality massage therapists is continuing to exceed supply.

What is clinical massage? Do you teach it?

Over the years, several terms have popped-up in the massage therapy industry, intended to create differentiation and to carve out a niche in the marketplace. Some terms have stayed, and some are obsolete. ‘Medical Massage’, ‘Clinical Massage’, and ‘Outcome-based Massage’ are another way of describing “condition-specific massage”, in other words application of massage therapy for medical conditions and using massage as part of a treatment plan determined by a licensed healthcare practitioner. The term distinguishes massage that is intended to treat specific conditions from relaxation massage.

As a school that takes massage therapy very seriously and has an extremely challenging science program in which a student will learn everything there is about the human body, we naturally *do* teach condition-specific massage. Yet, as the name of our school implies, that is not all that we teach. We take pride in offering a truly comprehensive program that includes several modalities, and which takes a holistic approach toward the individual.

Contrary to what some admissions people may have told you, there is no such title as ‘licensed clinical massage therapist’, nor does it mean that a self-appointed clinical program will provide you with a different scope of practice than any other massage therapy program.

Incidentally, the American Massage Therapy Association in a press release dated March 27, 2006, announced that it has no plans to define “medical massage”, as “all massage is therapeutic” and “empirical evidence hasn’t been provided to support or refute the concept of medical massage as a distinct area of specialization within massage therapy practice.”

What's with the alphabet soup? What is ABMP? NCBTMB? FSMTB? AFMTE? IBHE?

ABMP is the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals organization. Founded in the 1980s, ABMP has evolved to be the largest organization of bodywork professionals in the United States, offering professional liability insurance and a code of ethics to over 75,000 massage therapists and other modalities. In recent years, due to its size, ABMP has evolved to a major stakeholder in the development of educational requirements for massage therapy.

AFMTE is the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. It is an independent, not-for-profit organization consisting of massage therapy schools, teachers, and continuing ecucation providers and was established to strengthen and improve massage therapy education.

NCBTMB is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. It is a non-for-profit organization that defines standards for competency for massage therapists and administers the Board Certification Exam.

The FSMTB governs and administers the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). It serves the massage therapy and regulatory communities as the most appropriate, lone entry-level licensure examination. The MBLEx is currently utilized for licensure in 44 of the 48 regulated states, the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Please note, passing the MBLEx is only one of the steps necessary for licensure in your state. Please check with the state licensing board or agency regarding the licensure requirements for where you plan to practice.

Graduates of the Diploma program will be prepared to Massage Bodywork Licensing Exam offered by FSMTB and the Board Certification Exam available by NCBTMB.

IBHE is the Illinois Board of Higher Education.  It is the governing authority for private vocational schools in the state of Illinois.

Some schools offer programs with 500 hours, some with 600, and some with 700. Which one should I pick?

Some forces in the industry are pushing for curricula with a higher number of hours, while others ponder why a therapist needs to have studied 1,000 hours to perform chair massages.

The length of training at various schools is never an indication of the school’s quality and may depend on other factors. For example, schools that offer federal financial aid must have a minimum of 600 hours to offer federal loans or 720 clock hours to offer federal grants.

Considering that a Diploma program is your first step to becoming licensed, you must determine the requirements in the state in which you will eventually practice. Most states require between 500 and 600 hours, with few exceptions, and some states have no licensing requirements at all. Illinois requires 600 hours.  Also, AMTA and ABMP require 500 hours for membership, and the National Certification Board and FSMTB also require 500 hours to allow you to take their exams.

While the decision to select a Diploma program should not be based on the number of hours alone, you should look at programs that will give you at least the number of hours which will qualify you for licensing. You can always add hours to your training at a later time in continuing education, but taking a shorter rather than a longer program will allow you to enter the market (and start recovering your investment) sooner without any significant difference in acquired knowledge or skill level.

Can I become nationally licensed? Are there any national credentials that will allow me to practice in other states?

There is no such thing as a national license.  There are no national credentials that will allow one to practice in other states.  Each state has its own requirements and process for becoming a massage therapist. For a list of state requirements please visit the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals public education website.

What is a "nationally accredited school"? Do I need to go to one to become a massage therapist?

The term “nationally accredited” is misleading and there was a time when the Illinois Board of Education would punish schools for calling themselves nationally accredited.  There are no “nationally accredited” massage schools, although some schools may choose to be “accredited by an agency that is recognized by the US Dept of Education as a national accrediting agency”.  The difference is in semantics, but semantics that may cost you you dearly.  Even if a school is “accredited by an agency that is recognized by the US Dept of Education as a national accrediting agency”, it cannot be construed as a statement related to transferability of credit, program content, employment opportunities, or national approval of any sort.

What do the initials L.M.T. mean?

LMT stands for “Licensed Massage Therapist”.  It expresses that someone is authorized by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations to perform massage therapy.  Some states may used the term “Certified” instead of “Licensed”.

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How long is your Diploma program? Why 630 hours?

Our state-approved Massage and Bodywork Diploma program is 630 hours long. Depending on which scheduling option you select, you may finish it in 6 to 7 months or 9 to 11 months. See the current schedule here. .(use our link)

We chose to set the program duration to 600 clock hours because this number meets the requirements set forth by AMTA, ABMP, National Certification Board, Federation of Massage Licensing Boards, and State of Illinois licensing requirements. The majority of states that regulate massage therapy require between 500 and 600 hours of training.

Our 630-hour program develops superb massage therapists who can work in hospitals, spas, private practice or any other setting. At the same time, we continue to monitor industry trends and, naturally, if it becomes important to increase the number of hours for licensing purposes we intend to do so.

Are you approved by the State? Accredited?

We are approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education as a private vocational school, which is the requirement for taking the National Certification Exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam and becoming licensed. We are also members of ABMP.

A separate, voluntary accreditation process is to have an outside agency review the school’s processes, policies, and (in case of programmatic accreditation) curriculum. This process is used mainly by massage therapy schools that are interested in participating in federal financial aid programs. From our perspective, accreditation in its current form leads to higher tuition and higher classrooms and is otherwise pointless.

We do not feel that it would serve any purpose to be tied to an accreditation agency at this point, especially since we do not plan on participating in federal financial aid programs, which is one of the main objectives of schools pursuing accreditation.

We constantly monitor the industry and may participate in an accreditation process at a later time, if it makes sense for our program and the students.

Remember that the requirement for licensing in Illinois and for taking the National Certification Exam or Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam is the completion of a state-approved program (not an ‘accredited’ program).

How much is tuition? What is included?

Please click cost for up-to-date tuition information.

How does your diploma program differ from other massage therapy programs?

Let us start by saying that whether you come to our school, or attend any of the other larger, corporate massage therapy schools, if you do the required work and receive good grades you will pass the licensing exam and you will become licensed.

The curriculum of all area programs are similar to a great degree because they have to meet the standards defined by the National Certification Board, AMTA, ABMP, and the Massage Licensing Law. The difference among schools has to do primarily with the school’s business model, practices, philosophy, and how the core Massage Therapy Diploma program is implemented.

We have positioned ourselves as a Ultimate Spa Training Academy school with sole emphasis on massage and bodywork. It is our belief that although you can graduate from any school and become licensed, the schooling that you receive has a direct impact in the kind of therapist that you evolve into. Our small classes are designed to; focus attention to student learning needs, comprehensive curriculum, and on developing technical skills to ensure that our graduates are academically and technically proficient to be successful in the marketplace.

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Do you have a student clinic?

Yes. The school clinic is an integral part of the student learning experience. It is where our students practice their massage and bodywork, client interaction, and professional skills on the general public under the supervision of a skilled instructor. The clinic is managed by Ultimate Massage Spa, call 78-428-0001 check for availability. To make a student appointment, please call 708-428-0002.

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How do I complete my Illinois Massage License application?

What you will need:
·         $175 Payment in personal check or money order payable to IDFPR
·         Copy of fingerprint receipt
·         School transcript

Four-page license application and check list (5 pages total) found on www.idfpr.com see YouTube video for step by step instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvEtM4Tlusk