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Licensing Fees

Friday, July 26, 2019  
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Dear Interested Party:

Effective October 1, 2019, the fees for initial licensure, license renewal, and late renewal penalty will increase. It is the Board of Massage’s desire to address the public’s concerns about the upcoming fee increase.

Who has authority for setting fees?
The board does not have authority to establish fees or make recommendations for a fee change. The fees for every health profession fall under the jurisdiction of the secretary of Health. (WAC 246-12-330).

What factors have contributed to the need for the increase?
The main reason for the fee increase is high disciplinary costs for the massage profession. Costs associated with disciplinary spending include investigations, legal services, and attorney general services. Complaints alleging unlicensed practice of massage therapy, sexual misconduct, and noncompliance with continuing education are all much higher in the massage profession than other health professions.

Costs associated with the unlicensed practice of massage are significant due to a high volume of unlicensed practice cases. The attached document illustrates data for the top five health professions with cases alleging unlicensed practice. You can find more detailed information in the 2015-2017 Uniform Disciplinary Act Biennial Report.

In addition, cases involving sexual misconduct are high priority and often cost the profession more than cases associated with unlicensed practice or noncompliance with continuing education. Lastly, noncompliance with continuing education is a significant cost as the department randomly audits two percent of renewing practitioners every month. About half of the audited massage therapists are found to be noncompliant.

Why must massage therapists cover the costs for people practicing without a license?
RCW 43.70.250 requires that each health profession’s budget must be self-sustaining and borne by the profession. Therefore, costs associated with complaints of unlicensed massage practice of massage therapy come directly out of the massage profession’s budget. This applies to all health professions.

While the secretary may charge a civil fine in unlicensed practice of massage cases, (RCW 18.130.190(3)), in many cases, the fine does not completely cover the costs. The law does not allow the department to issue a fine covering all costs associated with the case. The monies collected from these fines go directly back into the specific health profession’s account.

We hope this information is useful in understanding the necessity for a fee increase. The department has implemented procedures to avoid an even higher increase. In addition, the department and Board of Massage have increased efforts to assist with keeping discipline costs low, including outreach related to noncompliance with continuing education.

The Board of Massage remains firmly committed to its mission and mandate of public protection. If you have any questions, you can contact the massage program manager at megan.maxey@doh.wa.gov or 360-236-4945.


Stephanie Dickey, LMT, Board of Massage chair, and members of the Board of Massage


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