Oct 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM | careers in holistic health 6 Common Misconceptions About Becoming a Certified Spa Manager

I wanted to take a minute to dispel some of the common misconceptions about how to become a certified spa manager.


Who doesn’t love the spa? But have you ever wondered how you go about getting a job in one? Or maybe you’re already working in a spa as a massage therapist or esthetician and thinking about making the next step in the spa career track.

We’re so excited about our new Holistic Spa Management courses, launched fall 2016. The next start date is January 2017, so I wanted to take a minute to dispel some of the common misconceptions about how to become a certified spa manager.

Myth #1: It takes a year or more.

No: You can complete the five courses that make up ACHS’s American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and International Spa Association (ISPA)-approved program in just one semester (15 weeks).

The courses are:

  • SPA 120 A Comprehensive Introduction to Spa Management
  • AROMA 103 Introduction to Aromatherapy for Spa Managers
  • SPA 220 Retail Management for Spas
  • SPA 250 Supervision in the Hospitality Industry
  • SPA 367 Financial Management for Spas

Myth #2: I have to attend a brick and mortar campus.

No: You can complete the courses and sit your exams completely online. We use state-of-the-art online classrooms with video and live interaction and live proctoring to ensure exam integrity while making it easier for you to complete your credential.

Myth #3: I have to quit my job to attend school.

Not anymore! With ACHS’s easy to use, yet sophisticated online classrooms you can complete your coursework from any computer. Plus, with our iPhone and iPad apps you can study, even post discussions and take quizzes, from wherever you have cell service or Wi-Fi! You will need to allocate an average of 3 hours a week per credit of study (i.e., 6 hours for a two-credit course).

Myth #4: My certification will only be good in the U.S.A.

ISPA and AHLEI are recognized internationally. According to the AHLEI website:

AHLEI extends its reputation around the globe to serve the needs of learning institutions and hotel organizations through 74 licensed affiliates in 45 different countries. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute also has an official office located in India, and holds exclusive Hospitality Education Program (HEP) license agreements in numerous countries connecting AHLEI's research and expertise to hospitality operations throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Myth #5: It is expensive.

The ACHS Spa Department has designed this program to be completed in just nine credits. This saves you money and time.

Myth #6: Online instructors don’t have industry experience.

ACHS spa courses are taught by industry seasoned spa professionals. The Chair of our Holistic Spa Management program and lead instructor is Shawn Hallum, the Regional Spa Champion for West Coast, Hawaii & French Polynesia for the Starwood Group. Shawn, who among his other credentials also holds a Master of Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine from ACHS, helps manage such world-renowned spas as the Heavenly Spa at the Westin Maui and the Spa Helani at the Westin Ka`anapali Ocean Resort Villas. While not required, we certainly encourage you to take a field trip to visit Shawn in Maui (we sure want to go!). 

See Shawn on Hawaii TV here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHt8e01V2JA 

You’ll also have the opportunity to learn with all-star faculty member Margaret LaPierre. Margaret has been a part of the ACHS family since 1996. She’s completed both the Certificate in Aromatherapy and Diploma in Holistic Health (HHP) programs with ACHS and is also a clinical esthetician. Margaret owns and operates her own integrative skincare clinic called Skin Therapy of Virginia, where she combines traditional skin care and holistic health. 

Have other questions about getting started in the holistic spa industry? Post them in the comments!

Holistic Spa Management

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the CSO of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are our own. If this blog contains affiliate links, they will be marked with an asterisk. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine. 

Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!