Massage Therapist and Spa Owner Profile
Find out what it’s really like to be a massage therapist.
Spa Owner Success Story
L.M.P. (Licensed Massage Practitioner)
Co-owner of Glee Day Spa, Seattle, WA
Amanda Jester began going to a massage therapist after she was in a car accident. “I realized that this was something I believed in; I enjoyed it; and it was an avenue for me to start my own business.”
Jester holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was working in the social services field. When she decided to make the switch into massage, she kept her full-time job and enrolled part-time at Cortiva’s Brenneke School of Massage in Seattle, Washington.
Training Online and Offline
While searching for a massage therapist school, Jester did most of her research online. “I really loved the philosophy of integrating body, mind and spirit at Cortiva schools.” She also spoke to other Cortiva graduates who spoke highly of the program.
She advises prospective students to research well before selecting a massage therapist school. “Most schools offer you the opportunity to visit and sit in a class for free. Go to the school, meet the students. Make sure it’s well-rounded. The program should really leave you with a sense of how to run a business.”
Getting a License
At the end of a course in massage therapy, Jester explains, “You get a certificate. You have to take a state test to become licensed after that.” The test varies from state to state. “Washington is more stringent. The classes you take are almost like pre-med and will include anatomy and physiology.”
In other states, the process may not be as intense. “In California you don’t really need a license,” she says. The massage therapy licensing exam that Jester took for Washington state was all computer-based. “There were many questions on it based on ethics and laws.”
Customize Your Program
While at Cortiva, Jester leaned more towards massage therapy in the spa environment. “You can customize your program to suit your interests. We had courses in Swedish and deep tissue massage, reflexology, Reiki and pregnancy massage.” She adds, “Although I leaned towards spa, I am fully trained in clinical massage as well.”
Spa vs. Clinical Massage Therapist
There are some core differences between the spa and clinical massage therapy environments. “Clinical therapy is a lot of insurance work. You usually work in a chiropractor’s office. Much of it is through worker’s compensation. You see clients on a short term basis and you are trying to correct soft tissue damage along with the help of a doctor and a physical therapist.” The spa environment is more indulgent and luxurious. “A spa is more about pampering,” she says. “Many people see it as a sort of preventative method.”
Working on Commission
After completing her massage therapist program, Jester worked at an Aveda Spa where she worked on commission.
“You can earn anywhere from 35 percent to 50 percent of the massage costs, and massage prices usually range from $60 to $120.”
The other option, she says, is to “rent a space, in which case you may be able to take away 100 percent of your earnings. This is usually what happens in a chiropractor’s office.”
After a year of working in the Aveda spa, Jester felt ready to start her own massage therapy business. She joined forces with her sister, a licensed esthetician, and Glee Day Spa was born. They focus on “integrating mind, body and soul” in their healing treatments.
Jester warns that starting your own business requires a concerted effort and a lot of creativity. “Business can be slow at first. The best thing we’ve done to generate business is join networking groups to get our word out.” She adds, “Also you can offer your services for free to get your name out. We’ve donated gift certificates to United Way and joined our local Chamber of Commerce.”