Career-changers finding opportunity in booming day spa industry
(ARA) – Even though the economy appears to be climbing out of recession, unemployment rates remain alarmingly high. Yet some industries continue to prosper, offering plenty of opportunity for career-changers and qualified job seekers. The day spa industry is an example of a “luxury” industry that has continued to do well despite the recession.
Penny-pinching Americans may not be willing to spend extra on some luxuries or comfort items, but a trip to the day spa can be seen as making sense for both economic and health reasons, points out Debbie Bates, a massage therapy and spa instructor at Everest College in Fife, Wash. People who once took long vacations and bought big-ticket luxury items are cutting back, but still want to feel like they are treating themselves.
“We find that many people have started indulging in affordable luxuries like massages and yoga,” Bates says. “Day spas aren’t competing with the local beauty parlor. A trip to the spa is seen as a luxury good, like a two-week vacation or diamond bracelet. But compared to a cruise or expensive jewelry, a 90-minute massage is a real bargain.”
There are more than 14,500 spas in the U.S., with about 80 percent of those being day spas, according to the International Spa Association’s 2007 estimates. With many day spas experiencing increased demand, qualified salon and spa professionals are needed.
Demand for massage therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent through 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Money Magazine lists massage therapists among its top 20 careers. Demand for spa professionals has been growing for a while. The industry has boomed since 1999, and 53 percent of salon owners had job openings in 2006, hiring nearly half a million new employees, according to a 2007 report commissioned by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. Despite industry changes, the future of the salon and spa industry is strong, and demand for experienced employees still exceeds supply at many day spas, the commission found.
Another factor driving increased demand at spas is the public perception of spas’ emphasis on overall wellness, Bates says. “Spas are not simply places for ‘pampering.’ Rather, they promote health and wellness. They really focus on helping clients relax and manage their stress.”
Americans’ stress levels have been rising for years. In fact, a 2004 APA survey found that 73 percent of Americans cited money concerns as the top factor affecting their stress level. “When times are tough, finding the right way to relax might be the best thing you can do for your health,” Bates says.
“Some see massage as a luxury, but in our Massage Therapy program at Everest Institute, we really emphasize how massage promotes overall wellness and can be an essential part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Erin Murphy, who also teaches massage and spa therapy at Everest College in Fife. She says that professionals find that even when times are tough economically, clients keep coming back for their massages because they know it’s essential to mental and physical health.
“There is no doubt that the recession is going to affect all sectors of our economy, but we have seen that the spa industry is quite resilient,” Murphy says.