Aromatherapist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 24, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an aromatherapist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

With a high school diploma it may be possible to begin a career in aromatherapy. Aromatherapists treat patients with holistic medicinal treatments using natural oils that may be applied topically or inhaled. Voluntary certification is an option for those interested in pursuing a career in this field.

Essential Information

Aromatherapists provide holistic medicinal treatments to patients through the topical application or inhalation of natural oils. Although there are no official licensure standards in the United States for aromatherapists, there are professional groups that specialize in aromatherapy and offer certification programs.

Education Training available through some postsecondary institutions and private organizations
Certification Optional credential, requires completion of a 200-hour training program
Required Skills Knowledge of history, safety and healing properties of natural oils
Average Annual Salary (May 2018)* $45,880 for massage therapists (aromatherapy may be part of service provided)
$36,350 for skincare specialists (aromatherapy may be part of service provided)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 22% for massage therapists, aromatherapy may be part of service provided
11% for skincare specialists, aromatherapy may be part of service provided)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Professional aromatherapists must know how to use various types of equipment to apply natural oils to patients' bodies. Some types of equipment used include diffusers, dry evaporators, steamers, and/or vaporizers. They sometimes administer oils that are inhaled or consumed orally. Aromatherapists use essential oils or hydrosols to perform detoxification, massage, and relaxation techniques on clients.

According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), aromatherapists do not treat medical conditions or offer diagnoses. Instead, their main job is to customize blends of oils to accommodate individual clients for aesthetic purposes or relaxation therapy. Aromatherapists usually work in a medical clinic or spa.

Job Duties

Aromatherapists take a brief medical history of a client before therapy, asking about any existing medical conditions and environmental factors affecting the patient's health. The practitioner then consults with the client about possible drug interactions, and the dosage, purity, and application methods for the necessary therapeutic oils. The practitioner then applies the oil on the client, either through sprays, salt baths, massage oils, or inhalation techniques.

Education Requirements

Aromatherapists are not required to be licensed medical professionals, but they may earn optional certification through the NAHA, which requires 200 hours of training and practice in aromatherapy. According to NAHA standards, certified practitioners must also have extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Practitioners with this certification must know about the elements of botany, the medical and holistic properties of therapeutic, chemical blending techniques and methods of oil application. The NAHA has established a code of ethics for aromatherapists, which covers treating clients with holistic principles and sharing knowledge with colleagues.

Essential Knowledge

In order to carry out the duties of an aromatherapist, practitioners should be able to distinguish between different types of essential oils and know how they affect the body. This requires knowledge of the history and safety of natural oils. Other essential knowledge includes knowing the healing properties of certain oils and common therapeutic applications.

Salary Information

Statistical data specific to what aromatherapists make a year is difficult to track, as many aromatherapists are self-employed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does, however, provide information for both massage therapists and skincare specialists, both of whom may use aromatherapy as part of their repertoire. Massage therapists earned an average of $45,880 a year in May 2018, per the BLS, and skincare specialists averaged $36,350 annually the same year. Employment in either field is projected by the BLS to grow faster than the average rate estimated for all occupations from 2018-2028, with 22% growth for massage therapists and 11% growth for skincare specialists.

Aromatherapists treat patients using natural oils that are applied topically or inhaled. Aromatherapy is a holistic medicinal approach to treatment, and no specific training is required to be an aromatherapist. However, voluntary certification may help aromatherapists appeal to potential employers or attract customers if they start their own business.

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