Career profile of a aromatherapist

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Tracey Murray has her own aromatherapy practice in London. Aromatherapy helped her to recover from an illness. She was so impressed that she decided to train as an aromatherapist to help other people in the same way.

How does aromatherapy work?

It uses essential oils which are obtained from different parts of plants. Each oil has unique healing properties. Oils are massaged into the skin to promote physical, emotional or psychological healing. Massage loosens tight muscles and unblocks congested tissue. It also triggers the release of endorphins – the body's pain-relieving hormones.

Can you describe a consultation?

When I see a new client I start by completing a full health questionnaire. I then give them a body examination. Many people ask for help with a particular problem – indigestion or insomnia, for example – but during the consultation I may discover that these are symptoms of another condition, like stress.

I decide on the three most important conditions to treat and which essential oils will be most helpful. Because clients are individuals with different needs, every treatment is unique. I can use up to four oils in a treatment and normally blend a few drops of each one into a carrier oil to use in massage.

What happens next?

The client signs a consultation form to confirm that they understand the treatment. Then they lie on the massage couch completely covered in towels. I only expose the part of the body that I am massaging so the client doesn't get embarrassed.

After the massage, I allow the client to relax while I make notes about how they responded to the treatment. I sometimes give clients a treatment to use at home – essential oils can be used in many ways including inhalation, lotions, creams and compresses.

What hours do you work?

I usually start at around 11am and can work until about 9pm I usually work six days a week. The first time I see a client the session lasts about 90 minutes. Subsequent sessions last 60 minutes.

How did you train to become a aromatherapist?

I did a diploma in aromatherapy which took 18 months part time. There were five week-long courses and a lot of work to complete in my own time. About half of the course was written work, the rest was practical experience.

When I qualified, I took additional specialist courses in pregnancy massage and using aromatherapy on pregnant women, babies and children.

What do you like about your job?

There's a lot of variety – I see so many different people with different conditions. I really enjoy helping people and it's great to see the effects of my treatment. I also like being able to set my own hours.

Is there anything you dislike?

Because I'm self-employed I have to do all the tasks associated with running a business, like keeping receipts and records for tax. My income can vary because it depends on the number of clients I see.

What qualities do you need?

You must have good listening skills and empathy with clients. You need to be interested in healthcare because you will have to do a lot of research into medical conditions. Business skills are also important.

Tracey's route to her career as a aromatherapist

  • Three highers.
  • BSc in Clothing.
  • MA in Book Arts.
  • Worked in a range of fundraising and business development jobs.
  • Diploma in Aromatherapy.
  • Started her own practice.

Tracey's aromatherapist career tips

  • Human biology is a useful subject.
  • Try an aromatherapy treatment or go on an introductory course.
  • A business course will help you to run your own practice.

Aromatherapist related jobs

Salary of a aromatherapist

  • Most aromatherapists are selfemployed, so income varies according to the number of patients they treat and the amount they charge for each session.
  • A new entrant will earn about £12,000 a year.
  • With experience this could increase to £25,000. An aromatherapist with a large established practice could earn around £40,000 a year.

Career profile of a aromatherapist

  • If you want to practise aromatherapy professionally you should make sure the course you take is benchmarked to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for aromatherapy.
  • Diploma courses usually last two years part time. Some courses do not have formal entry requirements, but you need to be able to cope with the biology and chemistry included in the course. Other courses ask for GCSEs/S grades, or equivalent. Biology, anatomy, physiology and pathology are useful subjects.
  • Single and joint honours degree courses, which include the NOS requirements for aromatherapy as well as many other modules, are available. Thames Valley University offers a two-year foundation degree in Aromatherapy and Reflexology.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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