Aromatherapist: job description
Aromatherapy is a treatment that uses essential oils to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. The typical responsibilities of an aromatherapist include:
- undertaking patient consultations
- identifying appropriate essential oils
- planning and explaining treatment requirements
- creating blends of oils
- applying oils (often via therapeutic massage) and undertaking treatment
- liaising with GPs and making referrals to specialists and other health care practitioners
- providing advice about diet, exercise and lifestyle
- keeping accurate confidential patient records
- keeping up-to-date with research and new developments in the profession
- managing stock levels
- teaching/supporting trainees
- marketing and promoting their practice
Most aromatherapists are self-employed, working full or part-time from home, from clients' homes or from their own practice. Many work as part of a team of alternative health practitioners for private practices such as specialist and complementary health care clinics and health farms. Some aromatherapists provide additional therapies including massage and reflexology. A very limited amount of contract work may be available with some GP practices and NHS trusts (in hospitals, hospices and community health centres).
There are routes into aromatherapy for both university graduates and school leavers.
Graduates should have a degree in complementary healthcare or similar; some courses include professional qualifications but for others you will need to complete the qualifications as well as your degree.
Aromatherapy is an unregulated profession, but it is highly advisable to register with a voluntary regulatory body, such as the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA), the Aromatherapy Council (AC) or the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Before you can register with these organisations you will need a diploma or degree in aromatherapy, such as an NVQ, which are offered at most further education colleges. Details of approved qualifications can be found on the regulatory bodies' websites.
Experience of working in a medical, massage or beauty clinic will also be helpful. It is necessary to have a good understanding of anatomy and physiology in addition to detailed knowledge of essential oils and their preparation.
Excellent organisational, interpersonal, listening and communication skills are essential. Aromatherapists also need to possess a mature, confident, sensitive and empathetic temperament.