Pros and Cons of Working as a Massage Therapist at a Spa

Massage Therapist at a Spa

Does It Make Sense To Work In A Spa After Graduation?

One of the top career choices for recent massage school graduates is to work in a spa or spa-like setting. Businesses that are already established and creditable as massage providers can be a great way to begin your career in a setting that is safe, secure, and supportive.

However, because you do work for a boss and a company, you are stuck following someone else’s rules and ideas about massage.

Pros of Working in a Spa

  • The biggest benefit of working in a spa is regular hours and regular pay. Because most massage therapists in a spa are hourly employees, you come in, work your shift, and get paid—regardless of how many clients you see during that time.
  • A spa generally brings the clients to you, so you can focus on just being a massage therapist instead of a business person, advertising executive, and accountant. While you might get bonuses for bringing in clientele, it usually isn’t expected of you.
  • The spa setting is very structured. Everything has a set price and set guidelines, the staff tends to be the same day in and day out, so you know what to expect when you walk in the door. If this kind of work environment is good for you (it can be a lot less stressful than owning your own massage practice), then you might want to look into it.
  • A spa is usually one of the safest places to be a massage therapist. No matter how much we might not like to think about it, an individual working alone on bodywork is at risk for attack. Because a spa has other people around and usually requires a contract signed by the client, it can be a safer place to work.
  • Built-in mentoring is another great reason to consider working in a spa. When you work with others who have more experience than you, you can learn on the job or even get paid to expand your skills.

Cons of Working in a Spa

  • There is little flexibility. When you work at a spa, you provide one (or two) services all day long for the same amount of time. This can get tiring, especially if you have your own ideas about what kind of healing you’d like to provide.
  • Most spa professionals make a relatively low hourly wage. The average spa worker earns around $10 to $12 an hour, which can seem pretty low when compared to what the spa charges the client. Of course, you have to factor in the possibility of a tip (as well as benefits and taxes paid by your employer), and the costs of operation being absorbed by the company.
  • You are just one cog in a big wheel. Massage therapists in a spa tend to be replaceable. Because spas over a host of services, you might not be as valuable to the company as you’d like to be.
  • When you work for yourself or in a facility that isn’t a spa, you can direct the course of your own career better. If you don’t like to accept certain types of clients, or if you prefer to push one modality over another, you might be better off not working somewhere that has rules already in place.

Of course, it’s important to remember that no two spas are created equally. Medical spas aren’t the same as day spas, which aren’t the same as recovery spas.

Before you make any decisions about your future career, be sure and research your potential employers and what they expect from their massage therapist staff.