American Massage Therapy Association: “The Spa Life”


When considering if a particular work environment is going to suit your personality and career goals, knowing what some of the expectations are within the environment may help. When asked, Snedden thought the short turnaround time between services bore repeating, explaining how the quick pace can come as quite a shock to some massage therapists.

Also, when you work in spa setting, don’t be surprised when you’re expected to assist with other business-related tasks. Many, though not all, spas expect massage therapists to participate in client education and retail sales—two practices that Snedden feels go together. “Massage therapists are expected to educate their clients about the services they are providing and the products they are using,” he explains. “Educating the client about the benefits of the services and products helps clients make informed decisions about purchasing products for use at home.”

If the thought of selling retail makes you uncomfortable, you might be pleasantly surprised by the idea that many spa goers actually want to be educated about the products. According to a spa consumer survey conducted by the Coyle Hospitality Group and WTS International, 84 percent of the 1,300 active spa goers who participated in the survey believe it’s important for their massage therapist to explain products and benefits during a treatment.

Also, massage therapists might be asked to learn additional spa services, including body wraps and exfoliation treatments. “This will depend on the scope of services offered by the spa,” Snedden explains.


When Snedden is hiring massage therapists for spas he manages, he has some specific attributes he looks for: “I personally look for someone with a solid basic skill set in massage technique,” he says. “I also look for someone who can be a team player.”

Most spas have training programs that will educate the massage therapists about the products, processes and procedures used, so being open to learning is important, too. “Experience is a plus if the massage therapist is willing to be open and receptive to learning new ways of doing things,” Snedden explains. “While I’ve always been receptive to new ideas and process improvements, individuals who are insistent on doing things the way they’ve always done them can be a detriment to the team.”

A few other characteristics spa owners will look for include: timeliness, ability to communicate, strong team player and a person who comes to the spa ready to work. Snedden also suggests that massage therapists who know they’re interested in working in a spa environment consider taking a spa treatment course or customer service training.

Although quick to acknowledge that spa work isn’t going to be for everyone, Snedden also was clear that the idea that working for a spa is akin to slave labor just isn’t true. “Successful businesses, including spas, take care of their employees,” he says, “because they know that in turn, happy employees will take care of clients.”

Be prepared when you go into the interview, Snedden encourages, as this meeting is going to really give you the opportunity to find out if a spa environment is a good match for your career goals. “Go into the interview prepared with questions and put a lot of thought into your decision before accepting a position,” he explains. “The spa environment isn’t a good fit for everyone, but for those who are interested, it can be a very rewarding career both personally and financially.”

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