Spa therapy is a rewarding career that combines practice of multiple spa specialties, like cosmetology, massage therapy, esthetology, and performing manicures, pedicures, aromatherapy, or hydrotherapy. Aspiring spa therapists frequently enter the field after training as either massage therapists or cosmetologists, or attending a course of study for spa therapy, but there is no set path on how to become a spa therapist. After training and graduating with a diploma from an accredited beauty or spa therapy school, aspiring spa therapists will obtain licensing according to country or state requirements. To become a spa therapist, the graduate will find an entry level position at a spa and refine spa skills on the job, while working with experienced spa therapists. Once a spa therapist has experience, he or she can work for resorts, spas, hotels, or cruise ships as either an employee or an independent contractor.
To become a spa therapist, a candidate must have a background in performing a wide variety of spa services to be competitive in the job market. Massage therapy schools offer courses in traditional Swedish massage technique, anatomy, physiology, draping, and business practices. While on the job, a spa therapist will learn more specialized techniques like reiki, shiatsu, deep tissue massage, stone therapy, and pregnancy massage. If a student decides to go to cosmetology school to become a spa therapist, he or she might learn to cut and style hair, perform chemical hair services, nail technology, and possibly learn to give facials, perform skincare services, and do hair removal.
Anyone who wants to become a spa therapist must be willing to work long hours at first for relatively low pay until establishing a loyal clientele. Spa therapists need to be willing to work weekends when most spa customers have time for spa services. While some spa therapists work for spas and resorts as employees, others may be considered independent contractors and will need to learn how to run and manage a business, including obtaining a business license, getting insurance, and paying taxes. Self-employed spa therapists will usually be responsible for buying their own supplies, keeping their own records, and setting business hours.
After getting experience as a spa therapist and building a clientele, typical wages can be competitive with other full-time professions. Some spa therapists will want to get advanced training in spa therapy management or get certifications working with particular products. This will increase a spa therapist's marketability and earning potential and allow the possibility of managing a resort or spa.