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Certification Requirements

Who can sit for the National Animal Acupressure & Massage Examination?

The minimum standard for sitting for the NBCAAM exam is documented proof of attendance at a school or schools of either animal massage or animal acupressure resulting in an accumulated course of study equaling a minimum of 200 hours.

Why Get NBCAAM Certified?

For most animal bodywork practitioners, NBCAAM certification is the only credential currently available that shows we have the training and practice necessary to work with our target animals effectively and safely. National certification demonstrates professionalism and a high level of standards that inspire confidence and trust in the veterinary professionals and pet parents with whom we work.

When you become a NBCAAM Certified Practitioner Member, you join a growing community of animal bodywork professionals who recognize the merits of achieving and maintaining a high level of expertise and experience in their work.

How to Get NBCAAM Certified?

Getting NBCAAM certified requires that you attend a program that provides a minimum of 200 hours in a variety of topics related to your target animal – horses or dogs.

You can choose to attend one of NBCAAM’s member schools for your education, or you can combine learning experiences from other sources, as long as the curriculum requirements are met.

How to Apply for the NBCAAM Exam?

If your training has met the curriculum requirements, you are ready to apply for the NBCAAM exam!

Application Process:

  • Complete the application form (click button below)
  • Read and attest to the NBCAAM Code of Ethics
  • Read and attest to the Legal Standing of Animal Massage and Acupressure statement
  • Attach your certificate(s) of completion or transcripts
  • Provide proctoring information
  • Who will proctor your exam? You have three options:
  1. You can choose a proctoring location near you: - Make sure to provide us with your proctoring site’s name and contact information on your application. Each proctoring site will require a fee for using their space.
  2. You can choose to use our online proctoring services. All you need is a computer or laptop equipped with a web camera and internet access. The fee is $25, and you can choose this option during the exam application process.
  3. You can choose to have a veterinarian proctor your exam. Please provide us with the veterinarian’s name and contact information on your application.
  • Pay the exam fee of $175.
 Apply for the Certification Exam 

Student Members Apply  Here

If you are already a Student Member, and you have completed your training program, you are eligible to sit for the certification exam.

What Happens Next?

Once we receive your completed application, we will review it to ensure that you have met all certification requirements. NBCAAM reserves the right to contact schools for verification or request further information. Please allow us 7 business days review and respond to your application. Check your spam for our emails.

You’ll receive an email confirmation when your application has been processed. Our Testing Coordinator will then contact you to provide you with details on how to proceed with taking your certification exam. You will have three months take your exam once your application has been approved.


More About Exam Administration

The NBCAAM exam is administered online throughout the country at learning centers, at veterinarian offices, or through our online proctoring service. Once NBCAAM approves your application, you will schedule an examination time with your chosen proctor. The date and time are arranged at the convenience of the applicant and the proctoring location.

Download Our NBCAAM Certification Guide 


Common Certification FAQs: Do you have any additional questions about applying for the exam? Contact for help.


Final things before you apply to take the exam.

Before submitting your application please:

Read our Code of Ethics. You will need to attest to it during your application.

Read the Legal Standing of Animal Acupressure and Massage Statement to which you will attest.

Read the Continuing Education - Member Responsibility and Scope of Practice to which you will attest.

If you are using work hours to qualify for the exam (2000 hours worked equals 25 hours), please fill out and upload this document with your application.

What must my education cover?

200 HOURS OF EDUCATION from an NBCAAM approved school -or-

  1. 50 hours of hands-on training must include
    • Minimum of forty (40) hours of in person training must include:
    • Thirty (30) hours of actual demonstration, observation, and practice of massage or acupressure.

    • NBCAAM defines massage as Western-based soft tissue manipulation practices. This must include, but is not limited to: Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction, Vibration, Tapotement, Compression.

    • Ten (10) hours additional hours must be in-person, but the material covered will be determined by instructors within scope of practice.

    • Case Study Requirements must be included: ten (10) independent sessions which are documented, and instructor reviewed. Case studies should include multiple animals and may include more than one session on one animal.

  2. Minimum 50 hours of A&P, Kinesiology for bodywork, Pathologies (for target animal).

  3. The remaining hours of the program must cover:
    • Behavior
    • Handling
    • Ethics
    • Biosecurity (for target animal)
    • Acupressure or Massage Theory (must include):
      • Assessment and execution of bodywork
      • Benefits of massage/acupressure
      • Contraindications for massage or acupressure
      • Practice guidelines

Does it matter how I take the courses?

Distance learning is acceptable for any “lecture” class such as anatomy & physiology, business and ethics.

Hands-on classes such as massage techniques, assessment, acupoint and meridian locations must be taught in an in-class supervised setting

If your school does graded case studies, 10 of those hours may be counted towards the 50 hands-on hours.
During COVID, 10 of the 50 hours of skills and assessment training may be conducted live online.

What if I want to take more than one exam?

For those candidates wanting to take more than one of the NBCAAM examinations, a maximum of 50 hours is allowed for cross-certification.

For example, a maximum of 50 hours of canine massage study can be applied towards the required 200 hours for canine acupressure.

None of the hours for cross-certification applies towards the hands-on requirement. All hands-on hours must be specific for the test to be taken.

I'm a human bodyworker does any of my schooling and/or experience count?

Massage or acupressure training for humans may count for a maximum of 50 hours of the required 200 hour total. Such human training is required to be topic specific that is massage or acupressure techniques, Anatomy & Physiology, meridian theory or acupoint energetics, for example. The remaining 150 hours of massage or acupressure training or equivalent must be animal related.

Does any of my other schooling and/or experience count?

Other Qualifications that count for 50 hours of the 200 required hours.

These hours cannot be counted toward hands on training.

Cross Certification - Already passed one NBCAAM Exam (50 hours)
Human Massage Certification in massage / acupressure (50 hours)

The below course work will be applied as appropriate:

  • Veterinary Technician Schooling (certification)
  • Human Physical Therapy or PT Assistant Certification
  • Equine or Canine Management / Therapy Degree
Please include your transcripts when applying.


Does any of my work experience count?

Occupational Experience (Grandfather clause)

"Grandfathering" - The NBCAAM Board is providing credit hours to individuals who have extensive work experience. Work experience is defined as performing an equine/canine massage or acupressure session for a client and/or conducting a talk or workshop specifically on the topic of equine/canine massage or acupressure.

Grandfathering - Occupational Experience

- Verification of occupational experience is an essential requirement for hourly credit.

  1. Each year of full time work (2,000 hours) will be granted 30 hours of credit. Prorate hours for part-time work can equal 1000 hours = 15 qualifying hours. Applicant must be working atleast ½ time (1000 hours per year) to qualify hours.

  2. This form, properly completed, must be included with the application form. One form  for each past employer or each period of self-employment is required.
  3. Please copy and use additional forms as needed for each employer. Verification of work experience must be notarized.  Please use this form to submit these hours. 

  4. Supporting Documentation must include:
    • Signed and dated by employer if applicable for all hours worked (veterinarian, rehab facility, etc) or proof of past employment caninclude job contract, W2s, paystubs or other ocumentation.
    • Supporting Documentation for Self-employed:

      • Official Business Name and license #s as applicable (Tax ID#, LLC,Business License(s)
      • The State business is recorded in
      • A copy of a completed session sheet for each 2000 hours submitted.((Not to be evaluated, but to show applicant is working in massage or acupressure and keeping records of the work
    • Form must be notarized that all information if true and accurate.

This Grandfather Clause will be available for application through December 31, 2025. Further cases will be accepted after 12-31-25 by petition only and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

How do I take the exams?

The NBCAAM exam is administered online throughout the country at learning centers or at Veterinarian offices. Candidates are required to locate a learning center of their choice and schedule a proctored examination time, once NBCAAM approves their application. The date and time are arranged at the convenience of the applicant and the proctoring center.You can search for a testing location near you by visiting 

Online proctoring is available.

More questions? See our NBCAAM Certification Guide

Important Messages

All submissions are subject to audit. NBCAAM reserves the right to contact schools for verification or request further information.

Please allow us 7 business days to review and respond to your application. Check your spam for our emails.

If you have any questions or need further assistance before then please email Sara May at

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