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How to Become an Aromatherapist: A Step by Step Guide

There’s plenty to think through before becoming an aromatherapist. We’ve laid out the most important points in this article.

Before you start telling your friends and family that you're planning on becoming an aromatherapist, take a look over this article. While it's not exhaustive, we've listed out a lot of the high-level things to expect during your journey.

The goal of this article was to paint with broad strokes about aromatherapy but also provide some food for thought, so we've started with some topics you might want to skip over.

Here's a quick list of the topics in case you want to jump down the article:

  • What is aromatherapy
  • The aromatherapist
  • Education and training
  • Building your skills
  • Essential equipment
  • Certification and career development
  • Continuing education

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapist using citrus oils, clove oil, tea tree oil and natural chemicals.
An aromatherapist using citrus oils, clove oil, tea tree oil and natural chemicals.

Definition and History of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses the scents of essential oils extracted from plants to promote physical, emotional and mental well being. It's a holistic approach to healing and relaxation often used as a complementary therapy to support mainstream treatments.

Aromatherapy leans heavily on essential oils, which are highly concentrated plant extracts that can be used to do some cool stuff like relax, uplift and reduce anxiety and stress. Essential oil therapy goes hand in hand with aromatherapy, including inhalation and topical use.

Essential oils can be used as part of a treatment for many conditions related to mental health, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches and muscle pain. There is some hidden knowledge to this art, though, because some essential oils can be toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Also, using the wrong dilution rate can exacerbate the condition you're trying to heal (especially headaches).

Essential Oils

So, what exactly are essential oils? In a nutshell, they're concentrated, fragrant liquids extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems and roots of plants.

Essential Oils are synonymous with aromatherapy, but they're also found in food and drink flavourings, perfumes, cleaning products and personal care products. It can take several kilograms of a plant to produce a single bottle of essential oil, so they're relatively expensive.

There are over 150 essential oils, and while they can be used to relieve stress or pain and make you feel better by inhaling them, you should not consume them unless you’ve checked with your doctor. Also, if you use them topically, you should be careful, as some essential oils can cause skin irritations.

The Aromatherapist

Picture showing an aromatherapist using certain essential oils and keeping notes.
Picture showing an aromatherapist using certain essential oils and keeping notes.

Job Description

Aromatherapists use essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds to improve mental health and manage chronic pain, muscle pain, migraines and menstrual cramps.

As a company that supplies the leading electric and portable aromatherapy massage tables, we're big fans of aromatherapists and have had the chance to work with many practitioners over the years.

The main role of an aromatherapist is to help clients achieve better emotional, mental, and physical health by creating a personalised treatment plan tailored to their needs and preferences. This typically starts with an initial consultation to learn about the client’s health, goals, and preferences.

From there, the aromatherapist will put together a personalised treatment plan that lists a blend of essential oils and relaxation techniques. They'll often also take on an education role, teaching the client how to use essential oils safely, recognise side effects, make storage recommendations, and counteract potential toxicities.

Work Settings

Many aromatherapists work in spas, wellness centres, clinic rooms or in private practice. They often work alongside other healthcare professionals, so you'll find them in the same practices as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and, to a lesser extent, general practitioners, depending on where they are employed.

Education and Training

Specialist using lanvder essential oil, rosemary essential oil and lemon essential oil.
Specialists use lavender essential oil, rosemary essential oil and lemon essential oil.

Find an Aromatherapy Course or Program

When you've made up your mind about becoming an aromatherapist and want to take the next step, the best path forward is to sign up for a reputable course or program.

This can be harder than it sounds, given how many courses and programs there are and the lack of formal certification or standards required to provide training. The best information we can offer is to look for courses that provide clear information about their curriculum and instructors. Start by researching the company and reading reviews from students who have completed the course.

A comprehensive school, for example, will provide evidence that their courses deliver, and buying a generic Certificate IV in Aromatherapy (HLT43015) won’t give you the skills to work as a professional in the industry.

Look at your study options from reputable schools and institutions such as the Australian College of Aromatherapy (ACOA) or the New South Wales School of Aromatherapy (NSWSA). Both schools have a proven track record in the industry and a student-centred approach to learning.

Learn about Aromatherapy Oils and Their Uses

During your aromatherapy course, you can choose to study the benefits and risks of using essential oils, skin irritation, allergic reactions and photo-toxicity. Assuming you pick a good course, you'll learn how to use essential oils safely, dilute them in a carrier oil and the different forms of application.

When applying essential oils to the skin you need to know the different techniques and how to calculate dilution rates to minimize the risk of irritation or sensitisation. You need to take this step to be safe when you start practicing with actual paying clients and developing ongoing treatment plans.

Further Training and Specialisations

Simply becoming an aromatherapist doesn't have to be your final goal - you can do additional certifications in clinical aromatherapy or holistic health.

This is a great way to take your aromatherapy skills beyond general knowledge. Once fully trained learn how to specialise and further develop your skills to include paediatric aromatherapy or aromatherapy for mental health. Both specialisations will require additional courses so make time to further your training.

Building Your Skills

A man mixes eucalyptus essential oil.
A man mixes eucalyptus essential oil.

Learn Aromatherapy Techniques and Methods

Another way to learn about essential oils is through an aromatherapy massage course. Aromatherapy massage combines massage therapy and essential oils and is a great way to relax, recover from injury, and reduce stress.

Understanding different ways to use essential oils is helpful in your mission to become a well-rounded, fully educated aromatherapist.

Learn about the Benefits and Risks of Aromatherapy

Another thing to cover is the risks and benefits of aromatherapy. If you're considering becoming an aromatherapist, then you're probably well aware of the benefits:

  • Pain relief
  • Stress reduction
  • Relieve symptoms of some chronic illnesses
  • Mood improvement
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Enhanced mood and energy levels
  • Improved digestion
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Improved mental focus and clarity

However, you might not be as aware of the risks:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin irritation
  • Toxicity
  • Increased photosensitivity
  • Respiratory issues
  • Hormonal effects
  • Risks towards pregnancy and breastfeeding

As you head down the path of becoming a certified aromatherapist, you'll need to learn the specific dangers of using aromatherapy. The list I've added above is not exhaustive and doesn't go into much detail since there's quite a lot to unpack on the topic.

Essential Equipment for Aromatherapists

Massage Tables and Chairs

As an aromatherapist you need to invest in massage tables and chairs. Whether you have your own clinic, work in a wellness centre or do home visits you need to have a comfortable and adjustable massage table and chair.

Your table and chair need to be easy to clean and if you do home visits, you'll need something portable that easily packs away. Tables and chairs with height adjustment and padded upholstery are a must have for an aromatherapist clinic.

Best quality recommendation: Pro-Life: Venus Extend

Pro-Life: Venus Extend - the best table for a high-profile aromatherapist.
Pro-Life: Venus Extend - the best table for a high-profile aromatherapist.

The Alevo Venus Extend is the premium power-driven table for any aromatherapist who wants the best of everything for their clients. Featuring a motorised backrest, linked seat tilt and sturdy head cradle, this table is the best of the best.


  • Customisable to your patient's body
  • Motorised for easy configuration
  • Highly durable
  • Comfortable and supportive body filler pads
  • Ergonomically designed

Price: $5,239.50

Best value recommendation: Centurion Elite ABR

Centurion Elite ABR is the perfect portable table.
Centurion Elite ABR is the perfect portable table.

The Centurion Elite ABR is a strong, lightweight table perfect for aromatherapists who want a portable table they can easily transport, but that is durable enough to last them years.


  • Strong and lightweight
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Easily portable

Price: $495

Diffusers and Inhalers

Having a range of diffusers for different spaces and client preferences will give you more aromatherapy treatment options. For example, a diffuser for a small space will emit less scent than a diffuser for a larger space. Offering personal inhalers for your clients to use when not under your care is another great idea. This way, they can take their aromatherapy treatment with them and use it independently of your services.

Recommendation: Earning Living makes a great, affordable diffuser. There's not a standout brand for inhalers, but the most important thing is to pick a disposable option since you'll be working with clients, and re-using isn't advised.

Carrier Oils and Mixing Tools

For diluting essential oils you will need carrier oils like jojoba, almond and coconut oil. To mix carrier oils, you'll need a range of tools like bottles, droppers, and blending bowls.

Recommendation: Pick up a set of glass beakers, bottles and droppers. You don't need to purchase a crazy expensive set of mixing tools. As long as you can accurately measure volume, any set will work!

Travel Bags and Cases

You’ll need to find a tough, organized bag to carry your oils and equipment in. A good idea is to get a bag with lots of compartments to prevent breakages and spillages.

Recommendation: Centurion Transit Bag Portable 720


  • Sturdy and padded
  • Fits nicely on your treatment table for convenience

Cost: $80

Certification and Career Development

A practitioner mixes specific essential oils.
A practitioner mixes specific essential oils.

Meet the Certification Requirements

If you’re going to be an aromatherapist, you need to know that different locations have different requirements for becoming a licensed aromatherapist. Research the specific requirements for your area. There is a certain level of education and training you’ll need to complete. Make sure you have the right qualifications to be a professional. This may be a certificate, diploma or degree.

Get Practical Experience with Essential Oils

When starting out your career, it’s a good idea to get experience using essential oils in different applications, such as massage therapy or as a topical remedy. You might also want to get some experience with clients, understanding their needs and how they may like to use aromatherapy.

Business Plan

When you’ve completed your education and are ready to work as a professional aromatherapist, your first stop should be creating a business plan.

There are a million articles online about writing a good business plan. The one I like is called the Two Page Business Plan by Tony Novak.

Your business plan should outline your business goals, your target market and how you will market your services. But it shouldn't be an essay. The point is to think through these points deeply and then write down your plan concisely.

Having a detailed business plan will also help you get financing to start your business. Research the market demand for aromatherapy services in the area in which you want to start your practice to make sure it’s a good idea.

Promote Your Services

Marketing your aromatherapy practice is essential if you want to get new clients. This involves setting up a website, creating a Facebook or Instagram business account and even joining a professional network.

I recently wrote a fairly comprehensive article on how to get more patients to your clinic, which gives a bunch of great advice on how to market your services. Rather than repeat myself, I'll point you to check out that article if this is a topic you haven't dug into too deeply.

Continuing Education

A medical professional discusses the health benefits of essential oils.
A medical professional discusses the health benefits of essential oils.

Keep Up-to-Date

To be at the top of your game, you will need to stay up to date with all the latest research and developments in aromatherapy.

There are always new studies being done that will change existing clinical guidelines or new oils being developed that may have a new therapeutic use. Attending workshops and industry conferences will keep you informed of industry trends and network with other professionals.

Aromatherapy Associations and Networks

A good place to grow and nurture your aromatherapy business is by connecting with other professionals. Joining aromatherapy associations and networks will help you share knowledge and best practices with other aromatherapists. You might also meet other professionals through this and get more clients.