NBCAAM – The First National Certification For Animal Massage And Acupressure Practitioners

The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) was established in 2008 and is the first organization of its kind in the US. The initiative to create a National Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massagenational accreditation for animal massage and acupuncture was taken by Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis (founders of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute) in 2007. After partnering with Hocking College and putting together a team of other experts in their respective fields (instructors, practitioners, and veterinarians), they went to work to develop core competencies and a scope of practice for each field. The NBCAAM examination was launched in the spring of 2008.

The national certification was created to set professional standards in these fields, to help make animal acupressure and massage more “officially accepted” careers, and to help practitioners gain credibility with both the public and other animal health professionals. We all know that animal massage and acupressure are wonderful healing modalities and perfectly valid careers of course, but many pet owners are still under the impression that these are extravagant (and unnecessary) treats for overly spoiled pets.

Hocking College (accredited by the North Central Association of colleges and known for their Equine Health Care & Complimentary Therapies associates degree programs) administers the examinations, but you don’t have to travel to the school’s campus in Ohio to take them – there are proctoring sites all over the US (and a few in Canada as well). The only thing you need to take one of these exams is a transcript or diploma from the acupressure/massage school you attended and $145. And of course, knowledge. A minimum of 200 hours of training is required, and you can combine the hours from different schools, though 50 hands-on hours have to be from supervised classes. Practitioners in other countries are also welcome to take these exams, but you have to travel to the US or Canada and take them at one of the proctoring sites.

There are four different examinations: Equine Acupressure, Equine Massage, Canine Acupressure and Canine Massage, and taking any of these exams is totally voluntary. It is not required by any state in the US in order to practice the modality in question, but you and your business will benefit from having the certification. You will stand out as a practitioner with exemplary credentials and a solid education who takes your career seriously.

Why Take This Examination?

I asked Karen Shaw, one of the practitioners who have been certified so far, why she decided to take the test, and she said “I decided to take the exam because in this day and age the more certified you can get the better. In my opinion, people want that. If they were choosing between someone who has certification and someone who doesn’t, there is more of a chance they would choose the higher level of certification person. Especially if that person has continued to deepen their skills and knowledge and is more than just “book read”. Also, having this certification adds to the qualifications and courage it takes to market myself in the world.

Benefits Of The NBCAAM Certification

Passing the exam will give you a certificate, a one-year NBCAAM membership with a listing on their website (with a reciprocal hotlink), and a membership card. The NBCAAM website is constantly evolving, and future benefits will also include a directory of certified practitioners, training listings, study guides, NBCAAM approved schools and learning materials.

I think creating this certification was a great idea. I hope it will help establish animal massage and acupressure as valid healing modalities with both veterinarians and the general public, and make people aware of the fact that these healing moadilities not only exist, but are powerful, non-invasive tools that can help their pets feel better.


Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
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