The International SPA Association estimates that, as of May 2019, approximately 377,900 people worked in the spa industry, which is an increase from 343,600 in 2013. The primary employers of spa attendants are hotels, resorts, salons, and, naturally, spas. Increasing numbers of salons are adding spas to their facilities to maintain a competitive edge; in the coming years, this will lead to increased opportunities for spa attendants throughout the country, mostly in larger cities and metropolitan areas. The same is true for hotel spas. Many spas, however, are clustered in resort areas with attractions like hot springs and consistently pleasant climates.
Many spa attendants receive their training on the job, but some background experience in health care or cosmetology may help you in landing that first job as a spa attendant. If you are not particular about your geographic location, check travel publications for listings of resorts and spas, or visit https://www.spafinder.com for lists of spas according to their specialties and locations.
A degree from a cosmetology or massage therapy school can be valuable when looking for a job in a spa. Many of these degree programs require fieldwork, or hands-on experience, and will put you in touch with salons and fitness centers. Without a degree, you may be limited in the spa treatments you are allowed to perform. But as more and more individual hair stylists and beauty salons open day spas to accommodate all the needs of their clients, both licensed and unlicensed spa attendants will find more job opportunities.
The longer an attendant works in a spa, the more he or she will learn about the services provided there. The attendant will also have more opportunities to expand upon the on-the-job training and potentially be allowed to perform more treatments. Though attendants typically start off with only an hourly wage, they can eventually receive commissions and tips. The more guests an attendant works with, the better tips and commission he or she will make. In a salon or day spa situation, the clientele will include regular customers. If they are happy with an attendant's work, they will request that attendant's services specifically and thus increase the attendant's income.
Attendants who complete further formal education also become qualified for more advanced positions. Those who attend cosmetology school to become cosmeticians typically take classes such as anatomy, chemistry, and physiology. They are qualified to work on the skin, giving facials, body wraps, and makeup applications, and may also do hair removal by waxing or plucking. Nail technician programs offered through cosmetology schools or nail schools qualify the graduate to give manicures and pedicures. Attendants who are particularly interested in fitness may want to consider advancement by getting an associate's degree from a fitness program. Courses for such programs include muscle conditioning, nutrition, and injury prevention. Those interested in massage may seek advancement by completing a massage therapy school program, which will qualify them to give different types of massage. These programs include course work in anatomy and physiology as well as provide hands-on training.
Some attendants advance to become spa managers or spa program directors. As program directors, they are responsible for adding new services, training spa attendants, determining what skin products to use, and controlling other details of the spa's daily practices. Those who wish to run their own business may eventually open their own spa.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as Pulse (https://experienceispa.com/pulse/current-issue) to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Join the International SPA Association, Spa Industry Association, and other organizations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Attend the annual International SPA Association (ISPA) Conference & Expo (https://attendispa.com) to network and to interview for jobs.
Contact spas directly to inquire about job opportunities.