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Acupressure Training Programs and Requirements

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing art that is similar to acupuncture, but does not use needles. Instead, body pressure points are manipulated by specially trained massage therapists. Acupressure professionals may earn certificates and degrees at colleges, massage schools and independent facilities to obtain hands-on massage instruction and courses on Asian medicine.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

At a minimum, applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate to become an acupressure professional. The most common option for candidates to learn the art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a 1-year certificate program, with associate's degree programs as another option. When acupressure training is complete, students must meet all state qualifications before working as professional acupressure specialists in spas, salons or healthcare facilities.

Acupressure professionals should have strong communication skills, the ability to generate new clientele and be a self-starter. They also need to be able to make clients feel comfortable before, during and after a massage session.

Formal Education

Certificate and associate's degree programs provide classroom instruction, as well as hands-on workshops where students apply their acupressure knowledge. Two of the leading, nationally accredited agencies for training in acupressure include the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Accredited formal education programs prepare students for state licensing exams.

Certificate of Achievement in Acupressure

Offered through massage schools or independent establishments, certificate programs require students to take 600-800 hours of classes. Students learn how the theories of chi and energy meridians pertain to massage. Typical coursework included in a certificate program for acupressure includes anatomy and physiology, business and ethics, aromatherapy, nutrition and kinesiology.

Associate of Science in Massage Therapy

Associate's degree programs in massage therapy typically allow students to specialize in a specific area of massage, including acupressure. Students complete 800-900 hours of instruction, with an additional 200-300 hours in supervised clinical practice. Courses include medical terminology, small business management, pathology and a modality specialty, such as acupressure. Graduates of a 2-year associate's degree program can transfer into other healthcare fields, including physical therapy, athletic training, sports medicine or medical massage.

Job Experience

Many businesses expect that applicants have 2-4 years of experience in the massage therapy and acupressure industry. For those seeking acupressure careers in the spa or resort industry, most businesses require applicants to possess at least one year of experience in that environment. They also need to have liability insurance and state certification in massage therapy, if the state has massage therapy regulations. Additionally, certain businesses require applicants have at least 500 hours of training.

Licenses and Certifications

Acupressure professionals generally hold a license in a different area of healthcare, such as nursing, acupuncture or massage therapy, since there is currently no specific acupressure license available. There is also no standard credentialing agency for acupressure; however, some states require professionals to obtain state licensure, which can be a state-based test or based off two nationally recognized tests.

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

According to the NCBTMB, currently there are 37 states that use its examinations for licensing purposes (www.ncbtmb.org). Candidates must possess a minimum of 500 classroom hours of instruction before they can apply for the exam. Recertification must be completed every four years.

Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)

The FSMTB administers the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Unlike the NCBTMB, there are no education or eligibility requirements to take the MBLEx exam. Additionally, there are no recertification requirements, so candidates possess certification for life.

Workshops and Seminars

Professional organizations in the acupressure field offer single and multi-day workshops where acupressure professionals use holistic healing to relieve patients' pain, promote good health and reduce stress. They also learn specific acupressure and reflexology techniques through hands-on practice. Acupressure associations host 2-day acupressure seminars for those in the industry. These seminars feature keynote speakers to discuss nutrition, breathing exercises and acupressure techniques.

Additional Professional Development

Continuing education courses must be completed for acupressure professionals to keep their certification from the NCBTMB. Applicants can learn about the latest acupressure techniques and how to improve business skills. Certain colleges and professional organizations offer online or DVD courses and classroom instruction for applicants to complete, some of which are approved by state licensing boards.

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