Massage is defined by state statute (SDCL 36-35-1) as “the systematic mobilization of the soft tissues of the body through the application of hands or devices for the purpose of therapy, relaxation, or education through means which include:
- Pressure, friction, stroking, rocking, kneading, percussion, compression, or stretching;
- External application of water, heat, cold, lubricants, or other topical agents; or
- The use of devices that mimic or enhance actions done by hand [.]
If you are performing massage for compensation, you are required to be licensed by the Board of Massage Therapy.
What does licensure require?
The licensure requirement does not apply to any person performing massage for compensation if the massage is done under one of the following circumstances: (SDCL 36-35-25)
- As part of a licensed practice as a physician, physician assistant, chiropractor, nurse, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or other health care profession licensed or certified under Title 36;
- As part of a licensed practice pursuant to chapters 36-14 or 36-15, if the licensee is performing within the scope of the licensed practice and the licensee does not hold himself or herself out to be a massage therapist or to be engaged in the practice of massage therapy;
- In furtherance of duties as an employee of the United States;
- As part of a course of study with a facility or instructor recognized and approved by the board to provide training in massage or the provision of such instruction;
- As part of providing a course of instruction or continuing education in the practice of massage therapy on a temporary basis not in excess of ten days; or
- Manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body is restricted to the hands, feet, or ears and the person does not hold himself or herself out to be a massage therapist or to be engaged in the practice of massage therapy.
Reflexology, acupuncture and aesthetics are not subject to regulation and licensure by the Board of Massage Therapy.
Who can practice massage therapy in South Dakota?
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older, with a high school diploma or its equivalent who has completed at least 500 of specified education and training in massage therapy from a recognized facility and passed an examination by an approved national certification board can apply to be a licensed massage therapist. In addition to meeting the educational requirements, the person must also provide proof of at least $250,000 in malpractice insurance with an absence of professional misconduct. (SDCL 36-35-12)