What Are My Career Options in Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapists use essential oils to treat issues such as stress and sleep problems. If you're interested in working as an aromatherapist, read on to find some direction and get yourself started. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Aromatherapy Careers Overview

Aromatherapy is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that uses the essential oils of plants, which may be rubbed on the skin, inhaled or, rarely, ingested. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Center for CAM, studies have shown aromatherapy to have no significant clinical effect on wound healing, immune status or pain management. However, at least one study has shown that certain scents can affect the levels of biological markers for stress in the blood stream. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recognizes several aromatherapy programs in the U.S. (www.naha.org).

Aromatherapy practices may be used, along with traditional Western medicine, by licensed medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, midwives and physical therapists. Others who might incorporate the use of aromatherapy oils include acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Massage Therapist Chiropractor
Median Salary (2014) $37,180 $66,720
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 23% 15%
Work Environment Part-time, by appointment Full time; nights and weekend work is possible
Similar Occupations Athletic trainers and exercise psychologists, physical therapists Occupational therapists, physicians and surgeons

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Aromatherapy Practitioner

Aromatherapists can work alongside healthcare practitioners as advisors to determine what essential oils will best suit a client's or patient's needs. As an aromatherapy practitioner, you may administer topical or inhaled essential oils using sprays, vaporizers or other devices, or via massage techniques. You might also recommend essential oils for your clients to use at home and teach them in how to use these oils safely and effectively. According to the NAHA, there are no specific state licensure requirements for becoming an aromatherapy practitioner.

Massage Therapist

The majority of states require licensure or certification for massage therapists. To earn your credentials, you'll typically need to complete some formal postsecondary education in massage therapy and pass an examination, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some states have their own examinations, and others recognize the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), nearly 190 accredited public and private not-for-profit schools offered massage therapy programs as of January 2014 (www.nces.ed.gov). Course topics in a certificate or diploma program might include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, ethics, business basics and stress management, as well as instruction in various massage modalities.

Chiropractor

The BLS reports that chiropractors must complete at least three years of undergraduate education and four years of chiropractic school; however, most earn a bachelor's degree before applying. After completing 4,200 hours of classroom and clinical experience in chiropractic school, you must pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam or a state exam and obtain a license. There are 15 accredited public or private not-for-profit chiropractic schools in the U.S. as of January 2014, according to the NCES. You'll want to look for a Council on Chiropractic Education-accredited program.

Naturopathic Doctor

As of January 2014, the NCES shows five accredited schools in the U.S. that offer programs leading to the Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) degree. You'll want to look for schools that belong to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Your courses might include human anatomy, neuroscience, pathology, immunology, pharmacology, botanical medicine and homeopathy. You'll also complete clinical rotations. Although N.D.s do not always have to become licensed, you'll need to be licensed as an N.D. in eleven states and in Puerto Rico.

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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  • George Mason University

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    • Master

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  • The George Washington University

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  • American University

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  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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  • The University of Scranton

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  • Colorado State University Global

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