Aromatherapy is a branch of both holistic medicine and somatology. The aim of aromatherapy is to detoxify the body and to calm and relax the client. It entails massaging the body with essential aromatic oils, each of which has different properties (some stimulate, others soothe). Many people are moving towards natural medicine, such as aromatherapy, because they spend so much money on prescribed medicines that do not always work. 

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. The aim is to promote physical and emotional well-being.  For use, highly concentrated oils are diluted with water or an unscented carrier oil such as a vegetable oil.  Essences contain alcohol, aldehydes and terpenes. Solutions are usually massaged into the skin, inhaled from steam or added to a bath. Learning and developing new forms of oil treatment through various combinations of oil extracts is part of the job. The nature of the oils is vital and aromatherapists need to be well schooled in which aromatic oils are necessary for a particular treatment.

Wounds, superficial scars, skin cancer, skin toning and skin-cell stimulation are examples of conditions aromatherapists are trained to treat. They can also help cure headaches, as well as skin diseases and pre-menstrual tension. Aromatherapists also believe that by changing their attitudes, patients will heal more quicklyAromatherapists discuss their clients’ specific problems with them and then select the correct oil or oils for treatment. They then plan and explain the treatment requirements, create blends of oils and apply them, often via therapeutic massage. A basic practical knowledge of the oils and massage techniques is essential for effective treatment. Some oils can have negative effects if used in the wrong way.

They may need to liaise with GPs and make referrals to specialists and other health care practitioners. They may provide advice about diet, exercise and lifestyle and keep accurate confidential patient records.  Other tasks are keeping up-to-date with research and new developments in the profession, managing stock levels , teaching and supporting trainees, marketing and promoting their practice. 

Some aromatherapists do laboratory research on the chemical components or plants and oils. 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.

Personal Requirements

  • good health
  • pleasant personality and appearance
  • empathetic and tactful
  • good listener and communicator
  • enthusiastic and professional
  • dedicated to the profession
  • responsibility for decisions
  • good with your hands

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate (matric), or equivalent with a Higher Certificate Pass or a Diploma pass (depending on the reuirements for your course) 
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences
In addition, check the college admission requirements to see if you qualify for the programme you want to do

What to Study

Diploma: Somatology - universities of technology or TVET College


  • health and beauty salons
  • health spas and hydros
  • cosmetic companies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • self-employment

Further Information

Aroma South Africa
P. O. Box 21941

Massage Therapy Association
P O Box 53320
Kenilworth, 7745
Tel: 079 846 0964

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a beauty salon or health spa
  • make an appointment to speak to an aromatherapist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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