Education and Training Requirements

High School

Because the practice of reflexology involves utilizing the correspondences between reflexes and the various parts of the body, a student who has some knowledge of medicine and anatomy will have an advantage. Study biology, chemistry, and health—anything that relates to the medical sciences. Since reflexologists must make their clients comfortable and gain their trust, some study of psychology may be useful. You might also investigate areas of bodywork and alternative medicine that are not taught in school. If you have some knowledge or practical skill in some area of massage (shiatsu or Swedish massage, for example), you will have a head start, especially since some states require reflexologists to be licensed massage therapists.

Postsecondary Training

The single most important part of a reflexologist's training is the completion of a rigorous course of study and practice, such as that provided by the International Institute of Reflexology. Many courses are available, and they range from one-day sessions designed to train people to work on themselves or their partners to comprehensive courses that require a commitment of nine months or longer on the part of the student. Naturally, if you wish to practice professionally you should select a comprehensive course. Correspondence courses are available, but any reputable correspondence course will require you to complete a required number of hours of supervised, hands-on work. Some aspects of the technique must be demonstrated, not simply read, especially concerning the amount of pressure that the reflexologist should apply to different kinds of feet. Many reflexologists offer services other than reflexology, and you may wish to also train in other kinds of massage, aromatherapy, or another kind of bodywork. Such training may increase the likelihood that you will make a decent living, especially at the beginning of your career.

Other Education or Training

The International Institute of Reflexology and the Reflexology Association of America provide continuing education classes, webinars, and workshops that help reflexologists keep their skills up to date and maintain their certification. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

In some states, such as Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Washington, and Tennessee, a reflexologist who has completed a course given by a reputable school of reflexology can be licensed specifically as a reflexologist. In most states, however, reflexologists are subject to the laws that govern massage therapists. That often means that you must complete a state-certified course in massage before being licensed to practice reflexology. In many cases, reflexologists are subject to laws that are designed to regulate massage parlors. In some places, these laws require you to be subjected to disease testing and walk-in inspections by police. It is common for those who are medical doctors or licensed cosmetologists to be exempt from massage-licensing regulations. Because there is such wide variation in the law, anyone who wishes to practice reflexology should carefully study state and local regulations before setting up shop.

It is recommended that you enroll in a course that requires a substantial number of hours of training and certifies you upon graduation. If you are at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have completed a course that requires at least 110 hours of training, and have achieved ARCB Foot certification, you can apply for certification from the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB), an organization that seeks to promote reflexology by recognizing competent practitioners. In addition to meeting age, training, and experience requirements, applicants must take and pass a three-part examination (written, practical, and documentation). Certification is purely voluntary, but a high score from the ARCB is a good sign that a practitioner is competent.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Aspiring reflexologists should obtain hands-on clinical experience with clients while in school. Additionally, any volunteer or part-time experience in the office of a reflexologist will provide a useful introduction to the field. 

Reflexologists work closely with their clients, so it is essential that you be friendly, open, and sensitive to the feelings of others. You must be able to gain your clients' trust, make them comfortable and relaxed, and communicate well enough with them to gather the information that they need in order to treat them effectively. It is highly unlikely that an uncommunicative person who is uncomfortable with people will be able to build a reflexology practice. In addition, you must be comfortable making decisions and working alone. Most reflexologists have their own practices, and anyone who sets up shop will need to deal with the basic tasks and problems that all business owners face: advertising, accounting, taxes, legal requirements, and so forth.