A licensed massage therapist, or LMT, and a licensed massage practitioner, or LMP, are essentially the same thing. The key word in both job titles is "licensed" -- meaning the person has been approved by the state to perform therapeutic massage. Whether a massage professional is officially an LMT or an LMP is simply a matter of the state that licensed the person.
According to Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, a trade organization with 70,000 members, 42 states have a licensing or official certification procedure for massage professionals. California has a voluntary certification program. Seven states have no statewide regulation of the massage industry, although local laws may apply. Those states are Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming.
A March 2011 review by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals found that 38 states use the designation "licensed massage therapist." Washington is the only state that uses "licensed massage practitioner" as the formal designation for state-approved massage professionals. It's not uncommon, though, to see someone formally designated as an LMT or LMP use the titles interchangeably. What matters is the license.
Colorado refers to its licensed massage professionals as "registered massage therapists," or RMTs. Indiana, New Jersey and Virginia call their state-approved practitioners "certified massage therapists," or CMTs. California's voluntary system has two levels based on the amount of formal massage training a person has received. Those with at least 500 hours can be a CMT; those with only 250 hours can be a "certified massage practitioner," or CMP. Meanwhile, two of the "LMT states" also allow massage professionals with less training to receive state certification at a lower level than licensure. Maryland offers an LMT designation for people with 500 hours of massage education and 60 hours of college credit, and an RMT designation for those with 500 hours but no college credit. Delaware requires LMTs to have 500 hours of massage training, but offers a "Technician-CMT" status for those with only 300. Finally, states that license their massage professionals might allow people who are working toward a license to call themselves CMTs or CMPs if they have been certified by a massage school or accrediting body.
Licensing requirements vary by state. Most require 500 hours of massage training -- including such things as classroom instruction and therapy performed under a licensed professional's supervision. Some states require 600 to 750 hours, and New York and Nebraska require 1,000. Licensure usually requires passing an exam administered by the state massage therapy board or a national accreditation body, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Licenses usually have to be renewed every one to three years, and many states have continuing-education requirements. Licensed massage professionals often also must undergo a criminal background check and receive training in first aid and CPR.