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Health & Fitness Programs ►Spa Professional Certificate Program with Externship

Program includes National Certification & an Externship Opportunity

The Spa Professional

In today's industry of massage therapy, it is more important than ever to have knowledge and skills necessary for a successful career. There are a wide range of opportunities available in today's spa environment, and there are many different potential business relationships that will be encountered throughout a typical career. Learning more about the business world will serve to equip the spa professional with information and tools that will inevitably be required as you begin your career.

The Spa Professional Program

This course provides an overview of the theoretical principles for common massage therapy systems and manual techniques. The course discusses the historical influences from a variety of cultures in order to best understand the massage therapy industry and profession today. In addition, the course overviews selected major cautions and contraindications for giving massage, as well as the effects and benefits of proper massage therapy treatments. The course prepares students with fundamental knowledge about sanitation, and creating an appropriate environment to perform massage therapy services with ethical and professional boundaries. The course also serves to introduce both the theoretical basis as well as the demonstration of fundamental manual techniques in the traditional discipline of Western Massage (i.e. Swedish massage), and the contemporary systems of Myofascial Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, and Reflexology. This course provides instruction the focuses on the basic knowledge and skills of business and professional development, including writing resumes, goal setting, self-care, and job interview comportment. Students will also have the knowledge and tools for basic entrepreneurship, including marketing for massage therapy. Finally, the course emphasizes utmost professionalism and ethical behavior.

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Comprehend foundational knowledge for understanding and applying massage therapy.
  • Gain insight into the philosophical and historical background of massage therapy.
  • Explain the effects and benefits of massage.
  • Understand clinical applications of massage.
  • Understand general guidelines for giving massage including hygiene, setting up the physical environment, and elements of performance.
  • Understand the basic physiology of trigger points, and explain the manual techniques used to treat trigger points as a massage therapist.
  • Understand the principles of Reflexology and explain the basic techniques used to treat the various systems of the body with the application of manual reflexology methods.
  • Develop career strategies, set goals, and plan for ongoing professional development
  • Navigate the career path with sound business practices and ethical behavior
  • Have the basic knowledge and tools for basic entrepreneurship, including marketing
  • Observe ethical and professional behavior in accordance with ethical codes from the leading professional organizations in the industry
  • Use Microsoft Office


  • Describe massage in the context of a natural healing art, and understand the traditional influences that helped to shape today's massage therapy profession.
  • Define massage and describe fundamental massage techniques commonly used.
  • Explain the concept of wellness, and understand how massage therapy is complimentary to Western medicine.
  • Comprehend the basic terminology used to describe the various types of massage styles and techniques commonly used.


  • Explain the various massage techniques and the effects they have on the body, mind, and emotions.
  • Identify how and when massage therapy fits into the healing process of tissue repair.
  • Explain the primary effects that massage has on each of the body systems, and on the organism level overall.
  • Explain how massage therapy is used in treating human pathologies.
  • Understand how research literacy and the evidence-based practice is important for the massage therapy profession.
  • Explain the basic massage applications for each system of the body, and how massage is used to compliment standard medical treatment in hospitals and nursing homes.


  • Describe the major endangerment sites of the body, which require knowledge and caution to avoid injury during massage.
  • Explain the principles for general, regional, and local contraindications for massage.
  • Explain the common medications and understand the implications for giving massage to medicated clients.
  • Describe the major components for maintaining a professional presence, including sanitation and hand washing practices.
  • Explain the primary considerations for self-care as a massage therapist.
  • Describe the primary elements of massage applications, including topical substances, proper draping, safety and comfort of the client, and use of techniques.
  • Explain the paramount ethical and moral considerations for the professional of massage therapy, and confidentiality as a client’s right to privacy.


  • Identify the primary manual techniques used in Western Massage, and the variations for each
  • Describe the variations of each of the primary western massage techniques, and how they can provide specific effects
  • Understand how to use western massage techniques appropriately in a session
  • Distinguish between active and passive movements, joint mobilization techniques, and stretching
  • Explain the therapeutic benefits of massage
  • Understand the application of mobilizing and stretching techniques for different joints and areas of the body, as well as the guidelines for applying joint movements


  • Identify three contemporary massage and bodywork systems that are popular within the industry
  • Explain the basic history and physiological basis of myofascial massage
  • Identify the primary guidelines, contraindications, and basic myofascial techniques used
  • Explain the basic history and physiological basis of trigger point therapy
  • Explain how to locate trigger points, and how they can radiate pain in predictable patterns
  • Identify the primary deactivation techniques used to treat trigger points
  • Explain the basic history and energetic basis of reflexology
  • Explain zone therapy and the guidelines in giving reflexology sessions, including positioning the receiver and body mechanic considerations for the therapist
  • Identify the primary foot reflexology techniques


  • Explore the massage therapy career
  • Define helping professions and identify characteristics of a helping professional
  • Examine the importance of balance
  • Evaluate a massage career in the context of one’s life
  • Explore aspects of a massage therapy employee, and aspects of an entrepreneur
  • Contrast the benefits and drawbacks of employment and business ownership
  • Define an elevator pitch and its importance to your career
  • Identify and explore options for massage careers
  • Describe employment venues
  • Contrast status of employee, independent contractor, and room renter
  • Identify ways to find jobs
  • Create a captivating cover letter and winning résumé
  • Explore interviewing and communications skills
  • Relate the concept of culture and the importance of “fit”
  • Evaluate the fine points of negotiation and examine your rights and obligations as an employee
  • Illustrate why marketing still matters as an employee
  • Explain the importance of continuing education and professional development


  • Define and explore ethics and professionalism for the massage therapist
  • Distinguish important documentation and the importance of keeping records
  • Explore the complexity of relationships between massage therapist and client
  • Define different boundaries for the massage therapist
  • Characterize sexual misconduct and identify preventative courses of action
  • Analyze gender and the massage therapist
  • Evaluate opportunities for the male therapist
  • Identify requirements for licensing, certifications, and national exams
  • Explore relevant professional associations and trade publications
  • Illustrate the importance of taking care of the caretaker
  • Explain the concept of “healthy selfish”
  • Identify foreseeable stressors for massage therapists
  • Examine techniques to manage stress
  • Define and create a self-care mission statement
  • Craft a self-care plan
  • Develop a good support system
  • Examine internal versus external nurturing
  • Review the importance of boundaries


  • Define marketing
  • Explain the marketing mix and define the “four Ps” of marketing
  • Define product and placement, and explain how to structure price
  • Explore the various components of promotion, and learn how to leverage customer service as a marketing strategy
  • Explain the purpose and makeup of a marketing plan
  • Write a mission statement
  • Examine trends in the massage industry
  • Identify a target market
  • Describe a company analysis and identify and assess competition
  • Define and explore a SWOT analysis
  • Introduce implementation tactics to help achieve marketing goals
  • Discuss why marketing is important for the massage professional
  • Evaluate marketing considerations and challenges unique to the massage industry
  • Identify essential marketing materials for massage therapists
  • Examine the anatomy of a business card
  • Introduce cooperative marketing, low-cost and no-cost marketing techniques and tools
  • Illustrate how to craft and deliver an elevator pitch for the massage therapist
  • Explore niche marketing for different massage modalities and different target markets
  • Examine the role of communications in marketing massage
  • Learn ways to “recession-proof” your practice through marketing
  • Identify ways to manage marketing information overload and exhaustion


  • Define ethics and professionalism within the context of the bodywork and massage therapy professions
  • Identify some things that are often misconstrued to be the same as professional ethics
  • Explain the relationship between ethics and professionalism
  • Explain the purpose of codes of ethics and standards of practice
  • Define the principles underlying the code of ethics for massage therapy and bodywork professions
  • Identify the character traits that provide a solid foundation for ethical behavior
  • Identify common things that present challenges to ethical behavior
  • Explain the types of justifications and rationalizations people use to defend unethical behavior
  • Explain the components of the ethical problem solving model and the importance of using a standard approach

Note: This program can be completed in 6 months. However, students will have online access to this program for a 24-month period.

Education and National Certifications

  • Students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED.
  • There are no state approval and/or state requirements associated with this program.
  • There is a National Certification exam available to students who successfully complete this program:
    • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Exam

National Certification

Upon successful completion of this Auburn University program, students would be eligible to sit for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam. Although there are no state approval, state registration or other state requirements for this program, students who complete this program at Auburn University will be prepared and are eligible to sit for this national certification exam. Students who complete this program are encouraged to complete the externship option with their program. Students who complete this program can and do sit for the MOS national certification exams and are qualified, eligible and prepared to do so. Auburn University works with each student to complete the exam application and register the student to take their national certification exam.

Externship / Hands on Training / Practicum

Although not a requirement, once students complete the program, they have the ability to participate in an externship and/or hands on practicum so as to practice the skills necessary to perform the job requirements of a professional in this field. Students will be assisted with completing a resume and/or other requirements necessary to work in this field. All students who complete this program are eligible to participate in an externship and will be placed with a participating organization near their location. Auburn University works with national organizations and has the ability to place students in externship opportunities nationwide.

Note: No refunds can be issued after the start date published in your Financial Award document.