How to become as Aromatherapist. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Aromatherapist do?
Aromatherapists use aromatic oils from herbs, flowers, trees, spices or fruit to help improve their clients’ sense of wellbeing and relieve symptoms of ill health.
As an aromatherapist your work would typically include:
- taking details of the client’s medical history, diet and lifestyle
- selecting the oils you feel are appropriate to treat the client
- mixing the oils in blends for massage, bathing or inhaling
- applying oils by full or partial body massage
- keeping records of treatments and the blends of oils used
- supplying blended oils and instructions for clients to use at home.
Aromatherapy may be used in medical environments such as hospitals or hospices, or alongside other complementary treatments.
You are likely to be self-employed, which means you could choose your own working hours, although you may have to offer evening and weekend appointments to meet the needs of your clients.
You would normally work from treatment rooms that may be at your home or in an alternative therapy or natural health clinic, or a beauty salon. You may also visit clients in their own homes.
How much does an Aromatherapist earn?
Your income would depend on the number of clients and your location. Many aromatherapists are self-employed and charge an hourly rate which can vary between £30 and £60 an hour.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
There is no statutory regulation within this area. However, you could improve your career prospects by working towards membership of a professional body (see the Aromatherapy Council website for a list) and joining the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC); check the training section for details.
- Aromatherapy Council
Many professional associations suggest the best way to prepare for a career in aromatherapy is to take a course that lasts at least 12 months and covers competences set by Skills for Health and complies with the Aromatherapy Council’s (AC) Core Curriculum. Shorter courses are useful as an introduction or for general interest only.
- Skills for Health
The AC can give you further advice about choosing a course, as well as a list of awarding bodies and associations, such as City & Guilds, ITEC and VTCT that have developed diploma-level qualifications in aromatherapy.
You can also study at foundation degree and degree-level, however, these courses usually include aromatherapy alongside other complementary therapies. It is important to check that courses include theory and practical experience. Check with course providers directly for entry criteria.
Being a member of a relevant association and being part of a professional register would be useful when looking for employment or promoting your service to clients. As well as the CNHC, there is an alternative register held by the General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapists; see websites for details.
Training and Development
As a practising aromatherapist, you will need to continue your professional development and keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career. Joining an association, such as the ones listed on the Aromatherapy Council website will often give you access to short courses, workshops and other development and networking opportunities.
- Aromatherapy Council
Organisations from a variety of complementary therapies, including aromatherapy, have worked to create a single (voluntary) regulatory body, known as the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The aim of the CNHC is to protect the public by registering practitioners, setting standards for safe practice and providing a means of redress if things go wrong.
It is anticipated that health professionals and the public will use the CNHC register to check if a therapist is of sufficient standard, so it may help your reputation and business if you are registered.
In May 2009, the CNHC register opened to aromatherapy practitioners. The most cost effective way to join is through your professional body (check with them for details), but you can also apply directly to the CNHC website.
- Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council
Skills and Knowledge
- a caring approach
- the ability to inspire clients’ confidence and trust
- good communication and listening skills
- accurate record-keeping skills
- the ability to recognise when to refer clients to a qualified medical doctor
- commercial awareness and business skills if self-employed.
You are likely to find most opportunities as a self-employed practitioner. Many therapists set-up clinics at home or in other premises, or visit clients in their homes or a combination of the three. To be successful you will need to build up and maintain a sound reputation and client base. You will need to market and promote your business, which may involve working long hours at first until you have established your practice.
You could take further training and offer additional therapies such as reflexology or massage to further supplement your income.
You may also find opportunities for work in hospitals (for example, those specialising in cancer care), health spas and private clinics.