Aromatherapist: job description

Aromatherapist: job description

Aromatherapists treat a variety of physical conditions, illnesses and psychological disorders with essential aromatic oils that are extracted or distilled from flowers, trees, spices, fruits or herbs.
Experience of working in a medical, massage or beauty clinic will be helpful in aromatherapy.

What does an aromatherapist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

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

Typical employers of adult nurses

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).

Qualifications and training required

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.

To find out how you can get into a career in this area via a school leaver route see the science section and the public service section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

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.

Key skills for aromatherapists

Excellent organisational, interpersonal, listening and communication skills are essential. Aromatherapists also need to possess a mature, confident, sensitive and empathetic temperament.