You love essential oils. You use them on a daily basis and have seen how they have been able to enhance your health and well-being. You’re curious to know more about how exactly they work and what other ways you can use them. You’re even interested in learning about what it means to be an aromatherapist.
If you’re interested in an aromatherapy course but wondering what kind of career opportunities exist for you, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m not going to lie to you.
Whenever I hear people talk about all the money in essential oils, I can assume at least one of two things. First, that they are most familiar with the small percentage of people who are successful with the selling of them through an MLM model. Second, they are aware of the great profit margins to be had when you compare the wholesale price of essential oils with their typical retail prices.
In either case, it’s not as easy as it might seem.
It’s true that essential oils are increasing in their popularity, and thus the market is growing. It’s also true that people have successful careers in various areas of the aromatherapy industry.
But when we talk about making your aromatherapy career, it’s no different than any other dream job in that it will have its own flavor of challenges, undesirable and/or time consuming tasks, and stressful situations.
I guess you might say the plus side is that the aromatherapy educational program will help you to overcome these obstacles. Plus, you’ll be very familiar with how to cope with stress and push yourself to grow.
What You CAN Do As an Aromatherapist
Let’s talk career paths, since you’ve got options!
As I cover in the Marketing for Aromatherapists Webinar (included in the Bonuses for the Aromatherapy Practitioner Course), there are several different career paths open for those completing an aromatherapy training program.
We might divide these broadly into SERVICES and RETAIL, though there is often overlap and there is the option to offer both (though there are ethical and logistical things to consider!).
From a Services standpoint, here are some of the things you can do as an aromatherapist:
- Aromatherapy Educator: Someone who educates on aromatherapy. This might be as simple as a beginning workshop for a few people, to the writing of a certificate program/curriculum. You might do this as your sole business, use it in tandem with other services, or be hired to work with a larger school or organization.
- Aromatherapy Practitioner: Simply speaking, an Aromatherapy Practitioner is a person who sees clients one-on-one to help them use essential oils to better their lives on any and all levels. Though our students are prepared to work in all different areas of aromatherapy, it is this role of Aromatherapy Practitioner that we focus most on in our program. It’s important to note that as an aromatherapist, you can help people with many different conditions but you won’t be able to make a medical diagnosis. For you to be able to assist with certain conditions, you may need a medical diagnosis from a professional. We cover all of this in the Aromatherapy Practitioner Course so you can be clear on where your scope of practice begins and ends.
- Aromatherapy Consultant: With a certificate in Aromatherapy you might also get work as a consultant to different companies and organizations using essential oils. From a company selling oils that needs help with making sure their recommendations are safe, to another that is looking for custom blend formulations, to helping a hospital implement aromatherapy into their Integrative Medicine department, to designing protocol for office policy around essential oil use, there are endless ways to utilize your training and connections to create a niche for yourself to help bridge the gap between aromatherapy and how they are used in the general public.
- Aromatherapy Writer/Researcher: We only know what we know because we have others out there researching and reporting on it. As you learn about the History of Aromatics (covered in both our certificate courses), you’ll find out that essential oils as we use them today are relatively new. Some aromatherapists have contributed by writing papers for International Journals, bring aromatherapy into greater academic study, or provide a service as an editor – as an aromatherapy writer myself it’s necessary to have an editor on staff that knows about chemical and latin names.
Whatever path(s) you may choose also depends on your additional background and training.
We’ve had students who are veterinarians that learn about adding essential oils to their practice, mental health counselors who incorporate aromatherapy into their sessions, nurses that bring essential oils into a hospital, and essential oil retailers who use their new knowledge to improve their product lines and marketing.
We’ve had students who were also chemists, massage therapists, herbalists, english teachers, engineers, and computer programmers.
All them bring their other passions and skills to the table, it’s beautiful to see how it all blends together.
But let’s say your thing is retail. You love creating and designing products, are so excited about exploring blends, and you’ve even got some friends that are loving the sprays you’ve made for them already.
The more you learn about essential oils, the more you wonder about how you could make a living selling them. You follow people on Instagram making body butters and room sprays, how hard could it be?
Here’s what you need to know about selling your own essential oils or aromatherapy products:
- Make sure you’re clear on the state and regional laws governing how products like essential oils can be packaged and sold. You’ll want to be clear about GMP practices, labeling laws, and what you can and can’t say in regards to what your products do. It’s not within my scope to outline all of that here, but the deeper you dig the more you’ll see why so many essential oil marketers make vague or subjective claims. If you’re going to get into the business of selling oils, you’ll need to be creative to find that sweet spot of effectiveness, but not illegal, when it comes to what your products can do. If you are in the services side, be ultra-clear on what you can and can’t do when it comes to your scope of practice, particularly if you have dual licenses and/or certifications.
- If you’re doing any formulating, be crystal clear on the shelf-life of your products. We don’t cover commercial formulation as a part of our course, but do cover the safe ways to formulate any water based products (sprays + lotions) for immediate use. Know your preservatives and use them correctly. We don’t recommend rosemary extract or Vitamin E as a preservative alternative. If you want to formulate for commercial sale, you need to have qualified training in that area that includes proper formulation and testing procedures.
- Refrain from making medical claims, unless you have the medical license to do so. In our Aromatherapy Practitioner Course, we cover the do’s and don’ts of making medical claims of your offerings (even when you know what you’re providing has clinical and experiential data behind it to support its known benefits). As aromatherapists alone, at least in the US, we are on our own to govern ourselves with professional behaviour. With a grey area, you’ll find people on every place on the spectrum of informed and misinformed, ethical claims and unethical claims, legal and illegal. We want to help you do it right and stay out of trouble.
- Do your cost analysis. Even though the mark-up can look incredible (a kilo of lemon oil wholesale is about X while a 5ml bottle runs $x), you’ve got to factor in everything else: bottle, label, design, equipment/space for bottling, labor, advertising, insurance, all the time you’ll spend figuring out how to sell your products, website, and a million other things you’ll discover because that’s what happens when you run a business.
If you plan to go into business for yourself as an aromatherapist seeing clients, you’ll also want to consider what kind of financial cost it will be to open up and sustain a practice. This will also help you in the pricing of your services to make sure you do make a profit. I find one of the hardest challenges for Aromatherapists starting out is that they have a hard time charging for their services. The first step is in calculating what it costs you to do business, so you might as well have an idea of that before you begin.
No matter your type of business, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions: Who are you selling to? Who are you serving? What do they need?
This gets to the heart of what I teach our students that are getting ready to start a business. The more familiar you are with the people you want to serve from the get go, the more you’ll know whether or not bottling all that lemon oil is the way to do it.
Those of you who decide to go the route of educating or seeing private clients, the more you can hone in on what your people could use from you the most — then you’ll know where to focus your energies.
For example, let’s say you saw how much you were able to use oils to help your grandma in her final weeks and you’re interested in serving the elderly. Now you can look into what it takes to bring aromatherapy to older folks homes and what kind of programs address what you need. Or maybe you’d like to learn more about essential oils for behavior disorders and using them to work with kids. Then you can research more about what it might take for you to offer that in your area.
In most cases, you’ll want to have some kind of education in what essential oils are, how they work, and how you can use them safely. It’s not as simple as just bringing in oils to the local nursing home or setting up a diffuser in a classroom. Though this happens more and more as oils become so widely available and I dare say, trendy, there is a lag in proper education on safety especially with special populations like children or the elderly. If those running the companies selling essential oils aren’t always informed about safe and proper use as mentioned earlier, you can bet that those running community spaces, offices, and the like don’t always know what’s best with oils.
So is there a need for more educated aromatherapists working out there in the world? Absolutely.
Will that need continue to increase and become ever-more relevant? Yes, I believe so.
But the opportunities for paid positions, that will probably take some time. I want you to be prepared for two things:
- To most likely work for yourself, thus you need some entrepreneurial spirit, some drive to put a stake in the ground and say, “This is me and this is what I have to offer.”
- To have another side-gig, training in a related modality, or some way to supplement your income (hopefully all three)
Both my mom, myself, and many aromatherapists I know have only moved forward with being able to put energy (and get back energy in return) with both bullets listed.
It’s all about the Sh*t Sandwich. That is, what kind you’re willing to eat.
It all comes down to this, friends: no matter what you do in the world of aromatherapy, it’s all going to have it’s own “sh*t sandwich” to eat.
I’m sorry to be so blunt but this is how Elizabeth Gilbert so aptly explains it in her book Big Magic. She paraphrases Mark Maron who points out that every job has its own “sh*t sandwich” — it just depends on what kind of sh*t sandwich you’re willing to eat.
Do I want to type on a keyboard for hours, or make PDFs in Adobe, or battle with website gremlins, figure out how to convert audio files, and learn YouTube again because they keep changing it? Not really.
But I want to help you learn the art and science of aromatherapy so much, that those annoyances feel like small peas compared to the magic we get to make together.
I’m willing to fight the gremlins, learn the programs, and press all the buttons, so you can get the best education you can.
Lastly, if you’re still wondering whether or not aromatherapy is the “career” choice for you, know it starts with learning how aromatherapy can help you first and foremost before you learn how to use aromatherapy to help others, like your family and community.
That’s why we focus on that in our Healing with Aromatherapy Course, now included with both our Foundations in Aromatherapy Course and our Aromatherapy Practitioner Course.
Some Final Thoughts
The honest truth, like it or not.
Though aromatherapy is a growing field and while essential oils are gaining in popularity and have even become mainstream, being a professional aromatherapist largely exists as a job you must create yourself.
I can not think of a single professional aromatherapist that I know who doesn’t also have training in another field, whether it is related to the work they do in aromatherapy or not. Many who come to aromatherapy already have or are seeking certification and licensure in careers such as nursing, psychology/counseling, massage therapy, pastoral care, physical therapy, yoga/meditation, childcare, veterinarian studies, and many more.
Unfortunately, though there is an increasing number of “certified aromatherapists” (a term that can indicate a wide range of education experience levels), and the demand for those who hold such designations hasn’t quite caught up.
Though they do exist, it is rare to find full-time job opportunities for aromatherapists that don’t also include other skill sets such as: writing, marketing, graphic design, data entry, or one of the other vocational skills listed above.
Most of the aromatherapists I know work for themselves and often have another related job or source of income. We don’t get into this for the money. We followed our interests to find an area of study that has enriched our lives.
I can’t stress the amount of “unpaid” time is spent by passionate aromatherapists who want to share what they’re learning.
There’s a certain amount of business savvy that one must harness to be “successful” as an aromatherapist. Unless of course they are lucky enough to find a job, often with a company selling oils, to help write educational marketing content, updated social media, and review the website for compliance.
The good part is that there are far more of these positions than in years past as companies become more aware of the legal ramifications of making unsubstantiated claims for their products — something that’s way too easy when the owners/managers lack the necessary education.
I’ve also seen my mom and many colleagues spend countless hours trying to get “good” information out there on the internet to counteract the blatant lies that get spread around. Though we’ve certainly gained students through my mom’s efforts to educate via social media, the return starts to diminish at a certain point.
No one does this for the money. They do it for the love of the earth, it’s gifts, and the deep desire to help us all heal.
I hope this has got you thinking more about what you CAN do with aromatherapy, rather than what you can’t. I wanted to make sure of that before you jumped into a program here or anywhere else .
If you join our program, I want you to join first and foremost for yourself, then for anyone else or a future career.
Yes, you can most certainly have the aromatherapy job of your dreams and be able to help countless people.
And we desparately need more educated aromatherapists out there.
But don’t let these be your only reasons for becoming an aromatherapist.
Be in this for you, for your own healing. That’s the real career of your lifetime. Let the rest unfold from there.