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.