Spa directors need basic skills in management, finance, marketing and human resources on the business side, as well as a knowledge of treatments, products and equipment on the spa side. They may also need to know how to design a business, as well as a spa itself.
To prepare for these careers, students can complete spa management certificate programs or pursue spa management specializations within associate degree programs in fields like hospitality management. Bachelor's degree programs might also offer a minor in spa management. Some of the topics addressed in these training options include human resources, spa treatments, customer service and business practices.
Certificate in Spa Management
Most spa director certificate programs are on campus, but there are some online programs available. Students may learn how to run a spa on a day-by-day basis, as well as how to plan marketing and make business action plans.
Most spa director certificate programs have no specific prerequisites, but a few programs require a license in massage therapy, cosmetology or aesthetics. Applicants without a license may begin to earn one by taking a program of approximately 24 semester hours.
It is difficult to compare spa director certificate programs by semester hours; some list credits as units, others as quarter hours and still others as semester hours. However, equivalent contact hours range from 300-600. Programs with more course requirements often have more general business courses. Many of these certificate programs require seminars or internships in spa management. Coursework specific to spa management might include:
- Designing a spa and operating procedures
- Health and wellness
- Life coaching
- Spa financial management, leadership and human resources
- Spa treatments and services
- Spas and fitness
Associate Degree with an Emphasis in Spa Management
There are no associate degree programs specifically for spa directors. Rather, the degrees are in hospitality management, holistic healthcare or a similar field with an emphasis or minor in spa management. The spa management portion of the program is generally much the same as some of the certificate programs.
Most programs that offer a spa management minor have no prerequisites beyond admission requirements of the school. These generally are a high school diploma, a GED certificate or proof of passing a high school proficiency exam. As with certificates, some associate degree programs require students to have expertise in cosmetology, aesthetics or massage therapy.
The degree curriculum will offer basic and general business courses. The minor will add courses such as:
- Basics of Ayurveda
- Customer service, business practices, and supervision in the spa industry
- Feng shui and basics of spa design
- General earth science with lab
- Healing massage, yoga, nutrition
- OSHA rules and regulations for spas
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Bachelor's Degree with a Concentration in Spa Management
Some schools that offer bachelor's degree programs with spa management minors indicate that the minor was designed because the spa industry indicated a need for spa directors who had a formal training and education in spa management. One of the primary differences between some bachelor's degree programs and lower-level programs is a lengthy internship that can take from 9-16 months.
Minors in spa management generally consist of 15 core hours and at least 18 hours of related spa and business courses. The only education prerequisites for the spa director bachelor's degree programs are the general admission requirements for the school.
Spa director core courses vary little from those available in certificate or associate degree programs. The few distinctive courses in a bachelor's degree program may include:
- Planning a spa customer's experience
- Food and client wellness
- Alternative healthcare
- Lifelong fitness
Although a spa director is basically the only type of job for someone with a degree in spa management, there are a few other career options, such as:
- Assistant spa manager
- Retail and spa manager
- Spa concierge
- Spa manager sales consultant
- Spa services or operations director
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), average growth of 11% was expected for supervisors of personal service workers (which included spa directors) from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for these professionals in May 2015 was $35,710.
The BLS also indicated that spa directors need to keep up with changes in the industry - hospitality service, alternate therapies, business management, etc. - through continuing education classes. Individual courses may be found through various certificate and degree programs. Certificate holders may also choose to earn an associate degree.
A Certified Spa Supervisor credential is available through the International SPA Association (ISPA). In addition to having spa management experience, candidates must complete ISPA's Supervisory Skill Builders for Spas course and pass the certification exam. The International SPA Association also offers several online courses for spa managers. Finally, the association holds webinars for its members.
Students interested in becoming spa directors can complete programs in spa management at the certificate, associate, and bachelor's levels. These programs provide information about everything from human resources and finance to spa treatments and products.