How Can I Become an Aromatherapist?

Research what it takes to become an aromatherapist. Learn about certification, career options, education requirements and job duties to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Aromatherapists are a type of complementary and alternative medicine practitioner who use scents to promote wellness. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education/Training Required Vocational diploma or certificate with hours of required training
Key Responsibilities Use herbs, plant materials and other aromatic substances to alleviate stress, assist patients with overall wellness, help patients alter their moods
Certification/Licensure Certification is available, may need licensure from related field
Job Growth (2012-2022) 23% (for all massage therapists)*
Median Salary (2014) $37,180 (for all massage therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Work as an Aromatherapist?

Aromatherapist use herbs, plant materials and other aromatic substances to alleviate stress, assist with wellness and alter patients' moods. If you are interested in becoming an aromatherapist, you can enroll in an on-site or online program covering the principles of the alternative healing field. Aromatherapy is a federally unregulated profession, which means that schools and study programs don't have to follow any legal guideline. To ensure standards in the profession, a few groups have been organized by professional aromatherapists to approve educational programs. You might find such programs through massage therapy schools, private institutions and other types of healing art centers.

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) ( and National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) are both professional organizations that approve aromatherapy training programs. The AIA has three levels of approval. Clinical Level schools are ones that have 400 or more hours of study per graduating student. Professional Level schools are ones that have 200-400 hours of study, and Foundation Level programs have 100-200 hours of study per student.

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has two levels of approval for programs. Level I programs are considered basic, with around 30 hours of study focusing on an introduction to aromatherapy and its components. Level II programs must have at least 200 hours of study and are considered professional-level programs.

It is important to find out if your state requires schools to be licensed, and make sure that any school you apply to is licensed in your state if required. It is also important to check the school for any complaints filed by former students or instructors, the level training that the instructors have, the careers graduates go on to have, and whether or not the program will offer you liability insurance.

While enrolled in an aromatherapy program, you are likely to study anatomy and physiology, history, research, applied sciences, chemistry, botany, biology, cultivation, essential oils, hazards and safety, blending, ethics, and business practices. The more courses your program offers, the wider your skill-set will be, and the more able you will be to have a successful career in aromatherapy.

Get Certified

Certification is available for aromatherapists through the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) ( Certification and registration through the ARC is not the same as licensing, which is not available in any U.S. state. To be registered with the ARC, you will need to pass their exam. To register for the exam, you need to have completed at least one year of a Level II NAHA-approved program, or have proof that you have had similarly adequate training. If you want to have 'hands-on' contact with clients, you will need to be licensed in another field that is regulated such as massage therapy, aesthetics, and other body-work professions.

Begin Your Career

As an aromatherapist, you might find work in salons, spas, hospitals, clinics, massage therapy offices, acupuncture offices, and in other complementary and alternative medicine environments. Some aromatherapists choose to work directly with clients, while others choose to manufacture essential oils, work in a retail setting, become an educator, or even become part of the perfume industry.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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