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Aromatherapy as a Career

Being an aromatherapist is an immensely rewarding and flexible career, 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 or secondary career, opening the door to a world of possibilities. As an aromatherapist, you could own your own business, create your own product range, consultancy, lecturing, train the next generation, or even go into publishing once you have the relevant experience. Alternatively, you could practice aromatherapy as a secondary career, around other commitments you may have, to provide you with an additional source of income.

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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 allows you to dictate your own working hours. After graduation, many aromatherapists start their own private practices, with some also teaming up with other Complementary and Alternative (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. This is of course as well as seeking employment in an already established practice and or within the NHS. 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, General Medical Council (GMC), healthcare insurers and the cosmetic industry. Research supports the use of aromatherapy, from its use in palliative care, with multi-skeletal (MSK) conditions to assisting in the treatment of illnesses of psychosomatic origins. Aromatherapy is also used in hospitals and hospices as well as other mainstream healthcare services. Aromatherapy is gathering momentum in the media with organic-based products in high demand. 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 everyday haircare and skincare.

A Rewarding Career

Aromatherapy is also a deeply satisfying career, providing both expected and unexpected opportunities for personal development. Aromatherapy administered via the medium 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 trying especially when you are faced with a client with complex 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 reports reveal the UK’s struggling healthcare system has 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 significant increase in 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 £45 to £75 per treatment (dependent on time and location). 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 is usual to charge a fee for travel within so many miles. Therapists with a solid client base can earn between £25,000 - £45,000 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. However, a good place to start is to contact local alternative medicine clinics and to start practising on friends and family to build up a referral network. Alternatively, new graduates may go simply straight intAROMATHERAPY AS A CAREER 2.pngo employment or working within an already established 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.

Where Will Your Career Take You?

Graduates of IFA approved courses have gone on to carve out an array of successful businesses in the industry through a variety of creative outlets; from authoring books, research papers and other scientific publications to providing commentary for popular media. We have seen others go on to establish household brand names e.g. Aromatherapy Associates, be holders of beauty skincare awards, consultants for companies such as L’Oréal, been cited in Vogue and having celebrity clients. Others have become care leads in the NHS, received awards from Prince Charles and even an OBE. The possibilities are endless! It just goes to show if you are trained thoroughly and work hard, you too can achieve great things. Wherever you wish your career in aromatherapy to take you by choosing an IFA approved course provider to qualify with you are setting the foundations for success.


There are various options to becoming an aromatherapist:

And Beyond

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 of what direction they wish to take and the business module is designed to help you decide that. For those who choose to undertake an IFA accredited course, our support does not end when you graduate. Qualifying from one of the above courses, with the exception of the add-on course, will qualify you for practitioner membership with the IFA. When you are IFA registered, you will be added to the IFA register, which is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), a UK body accountable to parliament. This enables you to use the IFA and PSA logo on your marketing materials (if you practice in the UK). These quality marks are recognised by the government and employment within the NHS - the mark of a true professional.