Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, is the use of plant oils in promoting physical and emotional well-being. Students may receive some instruction in aromatherapy as part of the curricula in holistic health or massage therapy degree programs; but, there are also programs dedicated solely to aromatherapy. These are typically offered through specialty schools associated with alternative healing methods. The programs are readily available online. To find them, students should look specifically for certificate programs; diploma programs in aromatherapy do not exist.
Certificate programs in aromatherapy are offered at a range of levels. Some of them prepare graduates to take the Aromatherapy Registration Council's (ARC) exam. Students interested in the ARC credential should check with their school to see if its online program can provide proper preparation for that test.
Aromatherapy programs are offered entirely online as well as in a hybrid format, requiring at least some on-campus attendance. Students usually have one or two years to complete all the coursework necessary for graduation.
Information and Requirements
Distance-learning students need access to a computer with high-speed Internet as instructors deliver previously recorded lectures online. Textbook lessons, webinars, homework assignments and special projects add to the comprehensive online learning experience. Certificate programs in aromatherapy generally call for 100-170 credit hours of coursework.
Certificate programs in aromatherapy cover a range of topics. For example, students generally learn something about the history of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Human anatomy and physiology classes may also be required. And, instructors may spend some time teaching students how to run the business side of an aromatherapy practice. Some of the courses most commonly included in aromatherapy programs are listed below.
This course introduces students to the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy and its modern practice. Topics covered include the basic administration and therapeutic uses of essential oils.
Students gain an overview of the origin, history and contemporary practice of aromatherapy. This course also teaches customer service skills as required in an aromatherapy practice. For example, students learn how to conduct client interviews; record client heath histories; assess client needs; construct personalized treatments; and ask for referrals.
Essential Oil Use
Students review the properties of essential oils including therapeutic benefits, application methods, active ingredients and handling practices. Additionally, students gain hands-on experience as they learn how to extract, distill and utilize essential plant oils.
Aromatherapists may find work in hotels, spas, resorts, cruise ships, healing centers and health stores. Of course, some of them choose to operate their own private practices. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track salary or job outlook information specifically for aromatherapists. Aromatherapy is often practiced supplementary to other professions such as massage therapy so salaries vary among practitioners.
Licensing and certification requirements aren't currently in place for practicing aromatherapists; but this may change in the future. Students and professionals alike may monitor developments within the industry by keeping abreast of updates from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). Meanwhile, the NAHA offers a voluntary certification that professional aromatherapists may choose to earn.
Although a certificate program in aromatherapy is considered a terminal level, individuals who study aromatherapy are often interested in other fields of alternative medicine and nutrition. Students may pursue such options as an associate's degree in massage therapy or a bachelor's degree in holistic health.
Certificate programs in aromatherapy are often found fully online or via hybrid method and teach students how to use scents from plant oils to promote physical and emotional well-being. Graduates from these programs may find careers in hospitality or holistic health.