Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Licensure, Certification, Accreditation in the Spa, Massage Therapy, Beauty and Wellness Industry

Eunice Estipona

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Let us look at the differences between licensing, certification and accreditation:
There are two forms of licensing: licensing for a business and licensing for a profession. Licensing in a business is a legal agreement between the individual and the government for the purpose of establishing a business. Licensing in business is a governmental regulation covering primarily covering the physical office, sanitation and training requirements. Examples are licenses issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, by the Department of Trade and Industry and similar government agencies allowing you to engage in that specific form of business.
Licensing in a profession, on the other hand, is a legal permission granted by a state or government to perform the profession legally and indicates effectiveness or proficiency in the practice of that profession. This is generally mandatory, granting permission to engage in an occupation after the degree of competency has been established and acquired to ensure public protection and consumer safety. This generally involves the police power of the government. It presumes that working in a particular field of activity is a privilege which can be given and withdrawn by the issuing agency depending on their requirements. Once a licensing law has been passed it becomes illegal for anyone to engage in that occupation unless that individual has a license or otherwise mandated by law.

What does this mean? To make it simple in our everyday life, when we say you are a licensed driver, it means to say you are permitted by the government to drive or even make driving your profession. If you are Licensed Medical Technologist or Registered Nurse, it means you have been granted permission to practice your profession by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC). Different government agencies handle different licensure requirements. If there is a licensure in a certain field or profession, it means, if you want to make money out of it or you want to make a career out of it, you are obligated by law to be licensed. It is not voluntary, mandatory ang magpa-license. So if you want to make spa, massage, beauty or wellness as a career at merong ng licensure rules and regulations or law governing those fields mentioned dapat merong kang lisensiya. In the Philippines, among the four mentioned only massage therapy has licensure. So according to PD 856, The Implementing Rules and Regulations of Chapter XXIII for Massage Clinics and Sauna Bath Establishments of the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, Section 9.1.1, No person is authorized to practice massage therapy in the Philippines without holding a valid certificate of registration for masseur issued by the Committee of Examiners for Masseurs and approved by the Secretary of Health. Exception to the rule: Not unless you are under the supervision of a Licensed Massage Therapist. So, in short, illegal mag practice ng massage therapy sa Philippines without a license. Kahit pa nag aral ka sa ibang bansa. Let us take for example, yung mga nurse who wants to work in the US as nurses, they have to be licensed by PRC and at the same time, they have to pass CGFNS, IELTS, etc. So, after passing all these exams dun ka pa lang magiging qualified mag practice sa Amerika. Huwag matatampo. This is the law and I am just stating this, not unless ma re-repeal ito then its still enforcible. Wala pang licensure ang spa, beauty, wellness or cosmetology (well, not that I know of only certification meron but I think law makers are slowly getting it into the system of licensing these professions). Tingnan naman natin ang ibang bansa (let us look at other countries), in the US, different states have different laws. The United States have no national standard for massage therapy, or spa therapy or beauty/aesthetics therapy training. Different States have different licensing requirements and twelve States do not even have statewide requirements. Canada naman has one of the most rigorous training programs and British Columbia requires 3,000 hours. Canada has different training requirements for their therapists; only three provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland have standards for massage therapists; the remaining provinces do not. However efforts to create national regulation for massage therapists in Canada are underway. A massage therapist must have completed 3,000 hours of training to practice in British Columbia. Alberta, on the other hand, does not require training at all. So you see, depending on the country/location you are at, you may only require Licensure to be able to practice. So depending on the circumstances, but generally, even if you are a Licensed Massage Practitioner/Therapist in the United States and you want to practice in the Philippines, you still have to comply with the requirements of Licensure laws of the country that you wish to practice in. For more information on laws, rules and regulations of other countries and all the US States, my book, The Spa, Massage Therapy and Wellness Resource Book and Career Guide is already available on and very soon for Philippine readers in all National Bookstores and PowerBooks nationwide. Here is the link to the summary of the book, its free to view, read, download and print:

Let us now go to Certification. Certification on the other hand, is a statement of completion, diploma or meeting a set of standards. Unlike Licensing, this is voluntary and does not involve the police power of the state. It also means that an individual has completed a course, training, seminar or workshop. Affiliation with an organization may or may not require a proficiency examination for admittance before they issue a certificate. Certification maybe withdrawn anytime by the issuing agency but this does not stop one from working or practicing the profession. Certification courses are offered by a variety of organizations, institutions, individuals, agencies and establishments. It is essentially the process of publicly attesting that a specified quality or standard has been achieved or exceeded. Professional certification on the other hand, uses a voluntary formal process to identify and acknowledge the individual who have met a recognized standard. Usually, this standard includes education, examination on the knowledge and skills, experience and the overall abilities of the person performing the job. So when an individual meets the standard, a certification is received from a private non-government professional organization or certifying agency. The credibility and integrity of the certifying agency determines whether the agency’s certification means anything to the public and therefore its validity and value to the public’s eye. A certification (ito yung mga ini-issue sa atin na mga certificates) attests that the individual has demonstrated a certain level of mastery of a specific knowledge or skills within its scope of practice. Pardon me if I will use massage therapy again because this is the only field that has both Licensure and Certification requirements, thus the most developed (should I say) in terms of current curriculum and policies in the country to-date, in the field of spa and wellness. In the massage therapy field of the Philippines, the Department of Health Committee of Examiners for Masseurs (DOH-COE) is the Licensing body for Massage Therapy while The Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) is the certifying agency for Massage Therapy. Wag nating pag awayin ang dalawang ahensiya because each has their own roles to play. You cannot say to your left leg that I do not need you because I have an arm. You cannot say that your eyes is more important than your ears kasi nga BOTH ay important in their own respective ways. Dapat kumuha ka ng Lisensiya at kung talagang gagawin mong hanap-buhay ang pagmamasahe then kailangan mo pa rin ng TEDSA certification. Ang certification ng TESDA ay voluntary at hindi mandatory. One government agency is not better than the other it’s just that each document from each of these agencies have different purpose. Kaya huwag malito kung ano ba talaga dapat ang kunin yung sa TESDA or yung sa DOH. This is my personal unsolicited advice, if and only if, in the deepest recesses of your heart eh gusto mong mag-practice ng massage therapy go for BOTH. Kung hindi naman, find your niche and follow your rainbow. I will mention it again, that there are a lot of positions available to choose from in this wonderful and varied world of spa, massage therapy and wellness, hindi lang maging practitioner (not only in being a practitioner). Hindi kailangan magtalo or pumasok sa isang field na hindi ka gifted dun. I will also not fail to mention that in my book a whole specific chapter is dedicated to finding your specific position/area in this field because I believe that each of us has our own unique talents and abilities. We will be more fruitful (not only in career but also emotionally and financially) plus happier if we know where we are headed and that is what my book also tackles (deep apologies for the plugging). But I think what I am trying to say here is, it’s about time na dapat maintindihan natin (that we should understand) that this industry offers a lot of opportunities for everyone that values health, well-being, wellness, beauty (both inside and outside and more) and only if you know where to seek information and help then and only then, will you get your answers.

Then there is an additional credential called an assessment. An Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. Assessment can focus on the individual learner, the learning community (class, workshop, or other organized group of learners), the institution, or the educational system as a whole. It is generally used to refer to all activities teachers use to help students learn and to gauge student progress. Therefore assessment is related to certification. At sino sa Pilipinas ang nag ce-certify? As I have mentioned, it’s the TESDA. In TESDA, it is conducted FREE for job-ready, but poor and deserving students. One can apply in regional and provincial offices and TESDA Assessment centers. All you need is a duly accomplished application form, 2 passport size pictures with your name written at the back. For more information on PGMA’s FAST (President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s FREE Assessment Service of TESDA) program just email me so I can send you more information.

Okay punta naman tayo sa accreditation (let us go now to accreditation). It has several forms like educational accreditation where accreditation is a process of review and approval intended for schools, institutions, programs and trainers conducted by an accreditation body and certifies that programs conducted by credentialing bodies and that these programs have met certain standards. It is a voluntary process whereby an agency or association grants public recognition to a school, institute, program, college, university, etc. for being able to meet certain established qualifications, standards or periodic evaluations from the accrediting body. In the field of spa, massage, wellness and related fields, accreditation is offered by the Department of Tourism (DOT). For the DOT Philippines, accreditation is a certification issued by the Department of Tourism that the holder is recognized by the Department as having complied with its minimum standards in the operation of the establishment concerned. In our specific industry this includes: spas (all kinds of spas), trainers, training programs, training centers, etc.

Generally speaking, you do not need an accreditation kung hindi ka isang foundation, establishments, institutions, associations, individuals, school, institute, program, college, university, who would conduct your own training programs. The most comprehensive list of massage therapy, spa and wellness is listed in alphabetical order in my book. The list contains Philippine schools/training centers, US, Australia, etc. and as much as possible we tried to include all available information about their: names, addresses, phone/fax/mobile numbers, websites, email/s, a bit of who they are or what they offer, (when available) etc. So you can get in touch with each person or institution directly about the programs that interest you. I decided not to include, the big question on “how much” because it will depend on the duration and type of your program and they can change their rates, give discounts and specials. I suggest you contact them directly regarding tuition fees or registration fees.

For those of you who would like a copy of the following documents (related to Licensure, Certification, Accreditation and Assessment in the field of Spa, Massage Therapy, Beauty, Wellness and Related Industry) please do not hesitate to email me at

Legend (where applicable) of Acronyms:
DOH means Depatment of Health
IRR means Implementing Rules and Regulations
DOT means Department of Tourism
TESDA means Technical Education Skills and Development Authority

DOH documents:
Implementing Rules and Regulations of PD 856 for Massage Clinics and Sauna Bath Establishments
Chapter XIII of the IRR PD 856
Licensed Massage Therapist Application Form
Chapter II IRR for Water Supply
Chapter XII IRR Tonsorial and Beauty Establishments

DOT documents:
DOT Inspection Request
Application for Accreditation of Spa
Processing Guide for Accreditation of Spa
Accreditation for Rules and Regulations of Spa
Revised Rules and Regulations for the Accreditation of Spas
Rules and Regulations Regarding Accreditation of Tourism Related Establishments
DOT Investment Primer

TESDA Documents:
Training Regulations on Hilot Wellness
Training Regulations on NCII Massage Therapy
FAST (Free Assessment Service of TESDA)
Beauty Care NCII
Training Regulations for Institutional Health Care
NC II Tourism Promotions Services

If you want a copy, just click on my blog account and follow/subscribe to the blog pagkatapos po ninyo mag follow or subscribe sa blog na ito, email me at

Finally, there is no single examining body in the Philippines, so it is very important that your course will lead to an examination approved by one or all of the following organizations: TESDA, DOH and/or DOT (this information is subject to change by the organizations without notice).

Thank you for reading this blog and check back in for more updates!

This article is written by: Eunice Estipona a spa consultant, mentor, advisor, speaker and lecturer. One of her advocacies is to make healing and information regarding the field of spa, massage and wellness accessible and affordable to everyone. If you are serious about turning your business or practice around, making the right decisions, getting an unbiased opinion and knowing where to get help, for lectures and other concerns she can be contacted at or +639184745685. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at

These along with hundreds of resources found locally and abroad are contained in “The Spa, Massage and Wellness Resource and Career Book”, the first book of resource information to know more about the Spa, Massage and Wellness Industry in the Philippines and other countries including the United States, Australia and other Asian countries. You can view, read, download and print for FREE the book’s summary at this link

If you are a spa, massage therapy and wellness information seeker the resources contained in the book for you. This book is a collection of data and valuable information regarding the spa and massage industry in a global perspective with a focus on the Philippines. Her advocacy in writing the book is to make “unbiased” information regarding the field of spa, massage and wellness resources and career, accessible and affordable for everyone. If you are considering a career in the massage, spa and wellness industry, this book will prepare you and give you a glimpse of what it is like, the preparation you need to take: emotionally, intellectually and financially. In this book, you will learn more details in the spa and massage field and the possible paths you can take. You will also learn about local and international training programs offered and numerous employment possibilities. Giving you much needed information at your fingertips. You can order it from or for local Philippine residents, you can email and get in touch with Eunice at


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