Aromatherapy is the application of certain scents, used in essential oils, to promote healing and relaxation. These scents are commonly derived from flowers, herbs, and spices, and can be used topically or inhaled to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Although aromatherapy has been around for centuries, it is becoming more popular in the United States as alternative medicine becomes more mainstream.
Aromatherapists are skilled practitioners in the field who use aromatherapy treatments in 3 ways:
- Cosmetic, where they add essential oils to soaps, shampoos or body lotion.
- Massage, where they incorporate essential oils into massage therapy.
- Olfactory, where essential oils are either diffused into a room with certain equipment, or inhaled by an individual by breathing in essential oils on a handkerchief, or placed topically on certain meridians of the body.
There are home study courses available online, as well as workshops and training classes. Often massage therapy schools include aromatherapy training as part of the curriculum. You can check for local classes in your community, or find a home study course online.
Currently, there is no certifying agency operating in the United States. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) is working to promote self-regulation within the field. In order to legally practice aromatherapy and actually apply essential oils to a client, you must be licensed in another field, such as massage therapy or nursing.
Aromatherapists can choose from a wide variety of jobs once they obtain training. You can work in spas or holistic wellness centers, operate your own aromatherapy boutique, or supplement your income as a massage therapist by offering aromatherapy treatments. Because the field is so wide, salary estimates are difficult, but NAHA estimates a range of $15,000 to $45,000 per year.
Finding a Job
Once you have obtained your training, some schools offer career placement assistance. You can also apply with spas and salons or alternative healing centers. You can also operate your own business, selling essential oils, or write articles and books about the practice of aromatherapy.
As alternative therapies become more mainstream, the practice of aromatherapy will continue to become more in demand. To get your client base started, however, you can advertise with alternative local weekly newspapers, or on Craigslist. You can also look for health expos in your community. Look into creating your own website and advertise your services online. Don't forget word of mouth as another viable source of advertising, especially once you have built a loyal client base.
Pros and Cons
The best part of aromatherapy is being able to help others feel better. With this career, you will promote healing and wellness, and it is a great outlet if you are a creative, intuitive personality. On the other hand, since you need to be certified in another profession in order to actually apply essential oils to clients, it can in some ways only be considered a second job.
Becoming an aromatherapist is a great career option for the WAHM who wishes to supplement her income while helping others. It is definitely a field that is continuing to grow as more and more Americans accept alternative therapies.______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.