Begun in 1976, SpaTech Institute has offered training in basic cosmetology and various spa-oriented modalities for more than three decades. But it wasn’t until the last few years that nail education was added to the curriculum. Despite its relative newness to SpaTech Institute, the manicuring/nail tech program is on the cutting edge, teaching students to work with state-of-the-art technology and how to build a solid business upon graduation.

The structured curriculum is very hands-on, requiring 200 hours of classroom study in subjects such as professional ethics, anatomy and physiology, first aid, and state law. Students learn current trends from the school’s two nail instructors as well as from industry leaders, such as OPI educators, who come in to demonstrate the latest techniques. Plus, during creative classes, students are encouraged to bring their cell phones and practice selected YouTube and Pinterest nail art tutorials.

Kris Stecker, the owner of SpaTech Institute, explains that the school prides itself on being a leader in education as well as a top provider of spa/cosmetology employees who have excellent technical, communication, and customer care skills. Before Stecker owned the school, he and Nancy Risley, the founder of SpaTech Institute, had extensive experience in the customer service-based spa industry as polarity therapy practitioners. However, they both realized they could affect more individuals by teaching rather than just working on a handful of people.

Because of the school’s focus on spa modalities, students are trained in other services that can be incorporated into the salon experience, such as aromatherapy, reflexology, and nail art. “Students learn techniques not just for a state board level, but how to refine them into high-end spa-quality services,” site director Peggy York explains. If the students ultimately work for a spa that offers all of these modalities, they will have a more well-rounded understanding and be better prepared than graduates of traditional programs.

In fact, one of SpaTech Institute’s biggest focuses is assisting students in job placement after graduation. York teaches classes on how to market, network, and build a clientele. SpaTech affiliates with as many spas and salons as they can through their advisory board and job fairs so that placing students upon graduation is as seamless as possible; before they graduate, 78%-80% of students have jobs. Additionally, the school has an online portal where students can stay connected with teachers and look for jobs that will be a good fit. “It’s important for a student right out of school and the salon to have a mutual fit so that the vibration and the ambiance of the salon really fits the tech who goes to work there,” York explains.

SpaTech occasionally struggles in helping students realize their personal potential and guiding them through the learning process. But York states, “Watching their confidence as well as their technical skills transform is really the best part.”

Fast Facts:

School name: Spa Tech Institute

Location: Westbrook, Maine

Owners: Kris Stecker/Nancy Risley, founder

Square Footage: 1,700

Opened in: 1976

Number of Employees: 27

Number of hours to complete the nail course: 200


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