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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.

Ready to apply? 

Have ready to upload a pdf of your graduation certificate if you are a graduate of an approved school, or transcripts and any certificates from other schools.

Student Member ready to take the exam? 

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:

o  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.

o   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):

o   Assessment and execution of bodywork,

o   Benefits of massage/acupressure

o   Contraindications for massage or acupressure

o   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 animal schooling and/or experience count?


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:
NEW - Veterinary Technician Schooling (certification)
NEW - Human Physical Therapy or PT Assistant Certification
NEW - Equine or Canine Management / Therapy Degree

Does any of my work experience count?


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. 
a. 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 at least ½ time (1000 hours per year) to qualify hours.

b. 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.
   Please copy and  use additional forms as needed for each employer.
Verification of work experience  must be notarized. 

i. Please use this form to submit these hours. 

c. Supporting Documentation must include: 
1. Signed and dated by employer if applicable for all hours worked  (veterinarian, rehab facility, etc) or proof of past employment can  include job contract, W2s, paystubs or other.  

i. Supporting Documentation for Self-employed: 
1. Official Business Name and license #s as applicable (Tax ID#, LLC,  Business License(s)) 
2. State business is recorded in 
3. A copy of a completed session sheet for each 2000 hours submitted.  
(Not to be evaluated, but to show applicant is working in massage / acupressure and keeping records of the work). 
4. Form must be notarized that all information if true and accurate. 

d. This Grandfather Clause will be available for application through December 31, 2025. 
iii. 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.

Online proctoring is available.  

More questions? See our NBCAAM Certification Guide

Ready to 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 Massage and Acupressure statement, which you will attest to.

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.

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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