Aromatherapists treat a range of physical and emotional problems by applying essential oils, usually through massage. An essential oil is an aromatic substance extracted from plants such as rosemary, lavender, peppermint and tea tree.
You could be:
- discussing lifestyle, diet and emotional wellbeing with your client
- selecting and preparing (blending) the mixture of oils to use in treatment
- massaging the oils into your client's face and body
- preparing a bath with drops of oil or mixing oils into base creams, gels or lotions for self-administration
- providing treatment over several visits
- selling essential oil products to clients and advising how to use them
- advising your client to see a doctor or another therapist and informing your client's doctor that you are administrating aromatherapy
- keeping records of clients and progress
- buying your oils from suppliers.
Most aromatherapists are self-employed and work on a freelance basis so their earnings will vary. They normally charge an hourly fee or sessional rate which can range from £25 to £70 an hour. At first you may have to supplement your income with some other work.
- You may work in a treatment room in a clinic, health centre or beauty salon.
- You might work from your own home.
- You may visit clients in their homes, so you might have to travel.
- You might have to work evenings or weekends.
- You will be on your feet a lot of the time.
- you would usually wear a white coat or trousers and tunic.
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- There are Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND) courses in Complementary Therapies at several Scottish colleges. Many courses include a unit in aromatherapy.
- Entry requirements for an HND or HNC are usually 1-2 Highers plus subjects at National 5. Contact the individual institution for details.
- The Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) in Spa and Massage Therapy Level 3 (SCQF Level 6) includes units on different massage therapies.
- The HND in beauty therapy includes units in aromatherapy and you can sometimes take individual HN units, which are accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
- There are also courses run by private companies.
- You should check that your course is accredited either by SQA or by the Aromatherapy Council and meets the standards of the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Aromatherapy and Aromatherapy Core Curriculum. This will qualify you to register with the British Register of Complementary Practitioners (held by the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine), or the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Registration is voluntary, but useful when looking for employment or promoting your service to clients.
- You should check that courses have enough work experience training to give you the skills and experience you need to practise as an aromatherapist rather than just the theory.
- Entry requirements vary – for some full time courses you need 2 Highers including English and Biology or Chemistry. Knowledge of anatomy is useful.
You might find work in the National Health Service (NHS) but most aromatherapists are self-employed.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- able to work well with people from a wide range of backgrounds
- well organised and able to keep clear records
- understanding and sympathetic
- tactful and reliable
- able to apply varying pressure with your hands for massage.
You should have:
- stamina, as it can be tiring work
- in depth knowledge of the properties of a large number of essential oils
- excellent communication skills, especially listening.
Once you have gained your qualification, training is on the job, with short courses to keep you up to date.
- With experience you might be able to increase the size of your business.
- You might train in more than one complementary therapy – many aromatherapists also qualify in reflexology, Indian head massage, shiatsu (Japanese massage therapy) or allergy testing.
- You might combine your work with teaching, research or journalism.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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