When I first became interested in essential oils, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them. I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to studying, though, so it wasn't long before I had volunteered my husband to help me carry a humongous stack of aromatherapy books home from the library.
I think most of us who enjoy learning about essential oils figure out early on that they just have a way of drawing us in until we want to know everything there is to know about them. The more I studied, the more I wanted to know. The analytical side of my creative brain was constantly badgering me with questions - "But why does this work?" "How do I know when to use Roman Chamomile instead of German Chamomile?" and, all too often, "What does that even mean!?"
My innate need to fully understand everything I become interested in left me thirsty for a much more solid foundation.
That's when I started researching more in-depth aromatherapy education. Some of the programs I found looked amazing but cost more than I could afford at the time and I didn't want to take out a loan to go back to school right in the middle of our Dave-Ramsey-Style-Get-Out-Of-Debt run. Some of the other courses didn't look comprehensive or trustworthy or up-to-date enough to capture my attention. A lot of time was spent sorting through information before I finally settled on the program I wanted to go through first and started saving for it. I know taking in all of that information and making a decision can be daunting, so I'm simplifying the process for you today with 10 easy steps to become a Certified Aromatherapist.
Note: I know full certification programs are not for everyone. If you have absolutely no desire to build a career around aromatherapy, you may not need to pursue such an in-depth program and a shorter course might work out much better for you.
But if you want to work in the aromatherapy field, start a blog or website, see clients, incorporate aromatherapy into your massage practice or your holistic health practice, write, sell products, or teach classes, or even just know that you have the knowledge and ability to be able to use essential oils safely and effectively and to share accurate information with your friends and family, a certification program is definitely going to be your best option.
10 STEPS TO BECOME A CERTIFIED AROMATHERAPIST
1. RESEARCH SCHOOLS
Is the school on the approved schools lists provided by NAHA and AIA? NAHA and AIA are the two governing bodies for aromatherapy education in the US. The schools that are recognized by them are those that offer 200+ hour programs with curricula that has been reviewed and approved as being comprehensive and accurate according to the rigorous standards set forth by our industry.
What are their requirements for certification? Most legitimate programs will require you to complete 200+ hours of aromatherapy coursework, an anatomy and physiology class, write a research paper, submit a number of case studies, and pass your final exam(s).
2. CHOOSE A SCHOOL / PROGRAM
Choosing the school you want to go with for your certification program is a largely personal decision. One school may offer more of a particular aspect of aromatherapy education that you want to learn than another or one may offer a format that works better for your schedule. I needed a school that didn't require in-person workshops or live calls and instead allowed me to learn online at my own pace.
Personally, I also wanted to go with a school that would offer thoughtful, individual feedback on my assignments and case studies, assign me to an instructor who would be available to answer my questions in a timely manner, and that offered an online community where students could interact with each other and the instructors. A mix of video content and written content was also important to me and I wanted to learn from people who I thought had good energy, presented themselves well, and who had a lot of personal experience in the industry.
Ultimately, you'll be drawn to the program that will work best for you. If anything, you'll have to narrow down your favorites and decide which one to go with first and which one(s) to enroll in later on. ;)
3. SAVE UP FOR THE PROGRAM YOU WANT TO ENROLL IN
Once you decide which program you want to enroll in, you may want to start saving up for it. Even the programs with payment plans require a down payment, so you'll want to be prepared financially. I save for courses by setting up a dedicated, automatic weekly transfer from my bank account to my savings account so that when I want to take a course, I have money in my "education fund" and I'm able to pay for it.
4. LEARN ALL YOU CAN WHILE YOU'RE WAITING. READ. ASK QUESTIONS. TAKE FREE COURSES.
If you aren't able to enroll in the program right away, take advantage of the waiting period by learning everything you can in the meantime. Read books. Lots of them. Ask people questions. Consider booking an educational consultation with an aromatherapist who can answer your tougher questions. Take advantage of the free courses offered by the different reputable schools. It's a good idea to see if the school you've chosen has one available so you can get to know the format they use to present their material and see if it appeals to you.
5. SIGN UP FOR THE SCHOOL'S LIVE WEBINARS AND CALLS, IF THEY HAVE ANY COMING UP.
I ended up choosing Aromahead Institute's Aromatherapy Certification Program as the first course I wanted to take. Since completing that program, I've made my way through other courses, including some from other schools, but this was the one that I thought would provide me with a really solid foundation to build upon and I'm still really happy with that decision.
Shortly after deciding on this program and saving up for it, the school offered a live webinar all about becoming a certified aromatherapist. I attended it and was really glad I did because a lot of the information covered within it answered questions that I had about the process and the value of the program. I ended up enrolling in their certification program during the webinar, which turned out to be excellent timing because they usually offer some really great bonuses when you sign up for the program during the webinar!
6. ENROLL IN THE PROGRAM
Congratulations! You're officially a student! It won't be long now until you're a Certified Aromatherapist!
The day I enroll in a new course is always a really exciting day for me. I know that I've just invested in myself by furthering my education and it feels good. Take some time to celebrate! Get acquainted with the user interface of the site, start making your way through the Orientation materials, and get your account info all set up. Introduce yourself in the forums, if the school you've chosen has them available. (Aromahead has a thriving, active community in their student forum.)
7. MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH THE COURSEWORK
Take your time. There's no hurry. Chew on the lessons as you make your way through them. Re-read / re-watch them several times so you can make sure you are really understanding the information presented. The more you go through the material, the better you'll remember it long-term.
8. WRITE YOUR RESEARCH PAPER
Choose a topic that is really inspiring you, whether it be a single essential oil, a plant family, or a specific issue that you are interested in learning more about. Writing about something that sparks your interest will be much more enjoyable than choosing a bland topic that you'll lose interest in quickly. It'll also make your paper more fun to read. Enthusiasm is contagious!
9. SUBMIT YOUR CASE STUDIES
This may have been my favorite part of the program. I love experimenting and seeing what works and doesn't and then reasoning out why the ingredients I chose were effective (or why they weren't) in any given situation.
One thing that I would do differently if I were able to go back and do this part over again would be to provide each of my case study clients with a little journal to keep notes in as they tested their products. This is a practice that I have since adopted for other projects and case studies and it's invaluable as a tool for learning.
Take time to thoroughly examine your case study results. If you have a blend that really worked, file your recipe and test it again with someone else in the future to see if it may be effective for many people. You can sometimes develop signature blends by refining and repeatedly testing case study blends that were successful! If a blend didn't work the way you had hoped, try to figure out why and decide what you could have done differently.
10. PASS YOUR FINAL EXAM(S)
Take as much time as you need to study before taking your exam. After you pass it, set aside some time to celebrate! You've just completed a really valuable course that is going to help you tremendously as you begin to build your career!
Once you've completed your exam and submitted all of your assignments, you'll receive some final feedback from your instructors and then you'll be awarded your certificate of completion. Print it out (if it isn't already printed) and display it!
As an Aromahead Graduate, I can wholeheartedly recommend Aromahead's Aromatherapy Certification Program. Their in-depth courses are organized so beautifully and include access to a thriving community of students and instructors. Andrea, the founder of the school, and Cindy, the Anatomy and Physiology course instructor, are both incredible teachers who break the information down into easy-to-understand pieces.
Are you considering Aromatherapy Certification?
Which program(s) are you currently thinking about enrolling in?
Let me know in the comments below.