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Aromatherapy as a Career

Training as an aromatherapist is an immensely rewarding and flexible career option which will allow you to work in a multitude of environments and interact with a range of people.

Primary and Secondary Career Options
Aromatherapy is a dynamic profession and can be practised as a primary career, opening the door to a world of possibilities. As an aromatherapist, you could own your own business, creating your own product range, product formulation, teaching, consulting, lecturing, or even go into publishing once you have the relevant experience. Alternatively you may practice aromatherapy as a secondary career, around other commitments you may have, to provide you with an additional source of income.

Working in Different Environments
Aromatherapy can be practised from your home, in a rented space, in a salon, clinic, spa or you may choose to conduct your business as a mobile therapist. Unlike other professions, aromatherapists have a great deal of independence and this career allows you to dictate your own working hours. After graduation, many aromatherapists start their own private practices, however some also team up with other CAM practitioners to offer clients a multi-disciplinary approach to their health. Working with others is also a way to lower the cost of renting clinic space. In addition, some therapists go on to qualify in more than one discipline opening themselves up to an additional client base. Aromatherapy is a versatile CAM medium and can be integrated into a range of healthcare disciplines like acupuncture, counselling, herbalism, pharmacy or nutrition, amongst others. Aromatherapy treatments are applicable for all ages, from pregnancy until old age. Essential oils can be administered to a whole host of clients under many different conditions, so if you like working with people and do not wish to be restricted to the confines of an office all day, aromatherapy may well be the profession for you.

Increasing Recognition and Popularity
The benefits associated with aromatherapy are being recognised by an increasing number of government agencies, healthcare insurers and the cosmetic industry. Research supports the use of aromatherapy with a catalogue of ailments, from use in palliative care for serious illnesses to assisting in the treatment of illnesses of psychosomatic origins. Aromatherapy is also used in nursing and hospices as well as other mainstream healthcare services. Aromatherapy is gathering momentum in the media and aromatherapy based products and practice is in high demand. Essential oils are being promoted in newspapers, magazine and television as part of a natural approach to healthcare and also for their role in anti-ageing and skincare regimes. This has given aromatherapy an even greater appeal and is leading to a surge of interest in aromatherapeutic formulations. As a result, aromatherapy based formulations can now be found across a broad spectrum of products, from household cleaning products to haircare and skincare.

A Rewarding Career
Aromatherapy is also a deeply satisfying career, providing both expected and unexpected opportunities for personal development. Aromatherapy administered through the art of massage can bring instantaneous results and as it is a face-to face discipline, there is a large element of interpersonal interaction. At times it can be tiring especially when you are faced with a client with personal problems, however it can be very gratifying to see the positive change it can make in people’s lives. As a discipline it is both mentally and emotionally challenging, which you do not find with many jobs.

Many people also train in aromatherapy to help a loved one with an illness or to improve their own health and self-care methods. Startling statistics being revealed every day and reports regarding the UK’s struggling healthcare system have given rise to a growing desire to move away from over the counter medicines. For example, it has been found that 26 million people in the UK regularly suffer from a back pain, with 90% of these sufferers relying on paracetamol to relieve pain. Emerging evidence shows that this drug may not only become ineffective, but may also cause harm when taken long-term. The growing culture of using complementary medicine and natural remedies as an alternative to synthetic drugs has led to a significantly increased demand for properly qualified aromatherapists.

Salary Expectations
Aromatherapists are usually self-employed, which allows them to choose their own hours. On average, they work on an hourly rate, earning between £30 to £75 per treatment (dependent on duration). Most clients wish to have treatments that fit into their working day, so mid-day and evening appointments are common. Any overheads incurred will usually include the cost of hiring a treatment room, the essential oils, as well as the primary costs of a massage bed and towels etc. If you are mobile, it usual to charge a fee for travel within so many miles. Therapists with a solid client base can earn between £20,000 - £35,000 per annum as a practitioner. Therapists who are just starting out may practice aromatherapy as a secondary career to supplement their income whilst building up their client base, until they are ready for full time practice. In addition, many therapists often start by providing treatments to friends and family to build up a referral network. Alternatively, the new graduates may go straight into working in a clinic.

Personal Attributes
As aromatherapists are working in a one-to-one situation, they should have the following personal attributes, in addition to the correct credentials and skills:

  • A desire to help others
  • A calm and patient manner
  • An ability to listen to others
  • Empathy towards others
  • A commitment to continual professional development
  • Thorough understanding of the scopes of their practice
  • Diary management
  • Organisational skills
  • Record keeping skills

More details can be found in the IFA’s professional Codes of Conduct, Ethics and Practice.

The IFA Diploma is an internationally recognised qualification leading to a world class qualification equivalent to a HE level 4/5 University Credit standard. The Professional Aromatherapy Diploma is taught from the IFA syllabus which has clear aims and learning outcomes and incorporates the National Occupational Standards (NOS), Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), surpassing the Aromatherapy Core Curriculum requirements. The course provides you with the tools to become a distinguished Aromatherapist capable of working with 70 essential oils, with emphasis on the practical application of aromatherapy. Before graduating you will have completed 60 case studies working with the public, providing you with the confidence as well as experience you need to embark on a career from the outset.

Successful completion of the course will automatically entitle you to be eligible for full membership with the IFA and CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council). Full membership allows you to use the suffix MIFA after your name and wording 'Dip' after your qualification and provides exemption from paying licensing fees and much, much more. The IFA runs other Diploma courses too, click here for details.

Where will your career take you?
Graduates of our courses have gone on to carve out an array of successful businesses in the industry through a variety of creative outlets; from authoring to consulting for global companies like L’Oreal to being featured in Vogue Magazine. Some of our therapists even have celebrity clients. It just goes to show if you work hard and study hard, you too can achieve great things. Whether you are looking for an additional source of income, a new direction in life or want to start your own business in a caring and nurturing profession, aromatherapy is a great career option.

Usually whilst undertaking training, therapists form an idea where they want to go in their future careers. However, a good place to start is to contact local alternative medicine clinics and to start practising on friends to build up a client base. These days social networks are also a great way to get your name out there and market your services. Wherever you wish your career in aromatherapy to take you, the IFA can provide new graduates with support every step of the way as they embark on their new journey.

The IFA is recommended as a Professional Body to join for Aromatherapy by the UK Government National Careers Office