Ready to Become a Spa or Salon Manager? Learn which Certification Best Suits Your Needs

webmaster Spa Management Leave a Comment

Fueled by society’s much stronger focus on wellness, the spa industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.  In fact, in the next four years the compound annual growth rate is estimated by the International Spa Association (ISPA) to be almost 6%.  That equates to plentiful job opportunities, yet spas are struggling to find sufficient well-trained therapists and managerial staff.  And due to the strong demand, those without pro-active staff retention programs are experiencing high turnover, so recruitment expenses are soaring.

Sustained spa revenue growth is particularly hindered by the lack of qualified spa managers according to research by the Global Wellness Institute and claims by industry leaders.  These insights reveal that many spas are not profitable because the people with decision making authority are not educated about basic business principles.  Sadly companies do not seem willing to invest in giving enthusiastic therapists the business knowledge they need to move up through the ranks.  Many prefer to hire from outside the industry, thus reinforcing the perception that there is limited career advancement opportunities when joining the spa field at a technician level.

Fortunately, the industry is realizing its shortcomings.  The influential International Spa Association, ISPA, has even launched a campaign to spread the message about the benefits of working in the spa, salon and wellness sectors.  Also, some companies are seeing the wisdom of investing in training, with particular attention to giving existing staff the commercial expertise to operate a financially viable spa.  If a spa is earning a reasonable profit, then they can also carry out more professional skills training for all therapists.  It is a win – win situation for everyone as the owners make more money and staff see a clear career path forward if that is their desire.


Wondering if you have the required commercial savvy and skills to be successful?  Almost everyone finds themselves asking the same questions, especially if they have no formal business training or have never had any direct responsibilities for a money-making operation.

So, when you’ve finally made the decision to make the career plunge into management, what is the next step?  Many people choose to enroll in a spa management course to learn or refresh areas that they believe needs improvement, expansion or more in-depth knowledge.  There are so many options available that just beginning the evaluation process can feel daunting.

It is impossible in this blog to examine all of the viable options, but rather I will focus on these spa management certifications ………. CIBTAC, VTCT and BISA as they are internationally recognized for producing highly successful management personnel.

These are generally offered at private schools with reasonable tuition.  You can often complete them in five to twenty days of full-time study.  Alternatively, colleges will offer them once a week over an extended period for those who wish to remain working and learning at the same time.  In either case you will find the education investment pays off quickly in terms of a higher salary as holding a certificate from an internationally recognized awarding body is increasingly important given tougher insurance liability regulations.

BISA Certificate in Spa Management
5 Days – US$2,600

When I started the Bali International Spa Academy in 2006, my intention was to help fill the rapidly growing global demand for quality spa personnel.  Just a few years later, the gap between availability of well-rounded spa managers and market needs had widened dramatically.  After 30 years of experience as a spa industry owner, consultant and director in both the West and the East, I was confident in creating a five day course suited to varying ambitions and needs.

The BISA customized management course has proven successful and I have been conscious to keep the content up-to-date given the rapid evolutions taking place in the industry. Even in the space of 10 years there have been so many change!  Who would have imagined that social media would have such a powerful impact on decisions about personal wellness and spa choices? Recruitment methods have advanced to a degree which is unrecognizable even just a few years ago. Diversity in the workplace has been legally and morally dictated in many countries, thus re-defining hiring practices. Consumer expectations of customer service standards are higher than ever, meaning consistent delivery of personalized service is paramount to achieve client loyalty.  Being green sensitive is no longer sufficient; facilities must demonstrate real environmental care in all aspects of operations. The only aspect that has remained the same is the value of strong leadership, a topic which features prominently in the BISA course.

In just five days, students will be assured of contemporary content presented in a well-paced format.  There are plenty of homework assignments which are reviewed every day.

The course syllabus covers the following content;

  • Spa and Salon Management
  • Salon Management
  • Marketing in the Spa and Beauty Sector
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Quality Management of Client Care
  • Human Resources Management
  • Health, Safety and Security
  • Spa Menu Planning
  • Standard Operating Procedures

Learn about the Differences

The BISA courses tailored to different career objectives is very popular, but we decided to add CIBTAC and VTCT management accreditation modules.  Although these are very similar in content, the main difference is their methods of appraisement and the amount of work required after leaving the BISA classroom.

CIBTAC Level 4 in Spa and Salon Management
5 Days – US$2,900

The Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology known as CIBTAC is one of the most highly regarded awarding bodies.  Their graduates are sought after by first-class spas and wellness centres worldwide, because they have confidence in CIBTAC’s proven training and evaluation methods.  CIBTAC’s strict assessment process by their own examiners verifies that students are truly ready to management from the first day with no additional on-site training required.

CIBTAC’s credibility in the marketplace bodes well for those seeking a management position.  If you will be working in the UK, the qualification is based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) and is recognized by both the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) and the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC).

If you are seeking to work in a country other than your home nation, the CIBTAC certificate is usually acceptable to obtain a working visa.  Certainly, no matter the country, employers will respect the knowledge gained through the course and their very detailed assignments.  The required individual work often proves instrumental in convincing decision makers of your level of industry understanding, and ways to increase profits through creativity and innovation.

There are five main topics, with all content specific to the spa, salon and wellness business;

  • Quality Management
  • Sales Management
  • Marketing
  • Health, Safety and Security
  • Public Relations (PR)

There are five mandatory assignments completed on your own time.  We would be happy to send you information about the specific content required, but do not feel threatened as the material is covered during classroom hours.  I too had to complete the same assignments, so can give you useful resources to aid in your own research and thought processes.

To complete the certification process, a CIBTAC examiner will interview candidates at Bali BISA or another CIBTAC centre for 30 minutes.  However, the grading of the portfolio of assignments is marked by myself.

VTCT Level 4 Diploma in Spa and Salon Management
5 Days – US$2,900

The Vocational Training Charitable Trust known as VTCT is a United Kingdom government-approved, awarding organization.  Since 1962 they have been at the forefront of developing the country’s vocational system of qualifications.  Their ambitious international growth plans led them to acquire, ITEC, another highly regarded certifying organization with a strong global presence.

They are highly regarded for their service industry qualification which makes their management level courses particularly successful.  This course is designed for those who have been undertaking supervisory or managerial functions, but have no formal management qualifications.  As it is very focused on customer care and modern marketing methods, the material covered has the potential to make a tremendous difference in spa profitability.

The content is very similar to the CIBTAC diploma course with the following subjects covered in detail.

  • Spa and Salon Management
  • Sales Management
  • Marketing
  • Health, Safety and Security
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Quality Management of Client Care

Outside of the 5 days of classroom learning, there are also extensive assignments to be completed at home. We have four trainers qualified as VTCT Assessors and I hold a VTCT Quality Assurance Diploma. All of us assist you with completing your quality assessments before a final review by VTCT. If you would like a peek of the level of detail required, I would be pleased to send you a sample task.


Still on the therapist track for now, but want to start on your business skills journey? Here are some classes offered at BISA that may be of interest.

CIBTAC Diploma in Complementary Therapies

CIBTAC Diploma in Reflexology

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Complementary Therapies

VTCT Level 2 Diploma in Complementary Therapies

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Aromatherapy

What is Right for You?

If you are an aspiring spa or salon manager, any of three courses  with BISA, CIBTAC and VTCT certification are suitable. The BISA course is the same length with a more diversified agenda and greater flexibility in terms of content focus. VTCT and CIBTAC accreditation both require more self-study after the course ends.

Consider your personal objectives, available time, budget, availability to travel and commitment to carrying out work on your own (of course with input from myself when needed!).

Still confused? Just send me an email and I will reply within 24 to 48 hours.

It is an exciting time to become involved in this industry in a managerial or leadership role. There is so much innovation happening every week, so why not become a part of it!

By Penny Ellis, Founder, Bali International Spa Academy
CIBTAC Centre of the Year 2015 and Finalist 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *