How I Became a Certified Aromatherapist

The minute I started researching essential oils I knew I was hooked. While I was interviewing several essential oil companies at once, the walk to my the mailbox at the end of the driveway had me full of excitement wondering if a package of essential oils would be waiting for me. After about the 100th bottle of essential oil, I realized that I had no idea how to safely use most of the essential oils in my collection!

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While interviewing Larry Williams at Aromatics International, he suggested I go online and take the Free “Introduction to Essential Oils” class from Aromahead Institute. I signed up and completed it in a short time and wanted to know more. I soon realized that either my fridge full of oils could degrade before I could ever use them or that I could become a Certified Aromatherapist and learn how to use more of them.

I love learning in a live classroom so the first thing I did was to look around for a local school. The closest one I could find was nearly two hours from me. With a small child, I knew that this would be nearly impossible. I had dreams of attending Stillpoint Studies in magical Sedona, Arizona, but that would be even more impossible with a then four-year-old. 

My requirements for a school included:

  • Approved by both National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA)
  • Online school
  • Self-paced
  • Something that I could access forever (no expiring classes)
  • Access to the teacher to ask questions and receive feedback
  • A well laid out class that is easy to navigate
  • Good reviews
  • A teacher with a style that matches my way of learning

Right about the time that I was looking for a school, Andrea Butje at Aromahead Institute held a webinar to talk about the process of becoming a Certified Aromatherapist. I attended the webinar and knew that this would be a good school for me. Andrea’s warmth and sense of humor stood out for me and I could tell that I would learn a lot from her.

I signed up to get started in September 2014 and started printing out the first two lessons so that I could dive right in. I joined the Aromahead Forum (an online community for Aromahead students and graduates) and started asking questions and participating in conversations. Well, life came up and things got put on hold for a few months. Since Aromahead students have lifetime access to the class with no timeline to complete certification, I knew that this would not be a problem. I could relax and take care of life outside of school until I could get back to it. And that’s just what I did.

I did a little retail therapy during the Black Friday sales and got myself a nice little aromatherapy library including:

I continued to write essential oil company profiles when I could and by May 2015 I was ready to get serious again about my aromatherapy certification. It had been seven or eight months since I’d last looked at the course and knew it would be best for my brain to start back at the beginning rather than where I’d left off months earlier. I was delighted to see that in the few months I’d been away improvements and revisions had been made to the course. Andrea has worked hard to add a webinar for every lesson in the certification course. Cindy Black has also been adding webinars to the Anatomy and Physiology portion of the program. I already enjoyed Andrea and Cindy’s teaching styles, and these webinars deepened my understanding of the material tremendously.

I made myself the goal of completing the certification program before the end of the summer and set to work. I committed to study a minimum of one hour per day, however, I became obsessed and often spent three or four hours per day studying the material. The aromatherapy certification is broken down into seven lessons plus an orientation that could be considered an eighth lesson with all of the information it provides.

To receive your certificate in aromatherapy at Aromahead you are required to:

  • Pass a 50-question Aromatherapy Certification Program exam
  • Pass a 50-question Anatomy and Physiology exam
  • Turn in 20 case study reports (and have them approved)
  • Write (and have approved)  an 8-10 page research paper

The total number of educational hours is 235 which includes the 76-hour Anatomy and Physiology class taught by Cindy Black.

I did my smelling and blending exercises at my dining room table and watched webinars and read through material from my couch or in bed after tucking in my son at night.

What surprised me is that I loved learning the chemistry of essential oils! I also loved learning about how the human body works. Questions that I’ve had my entire life about how my body functions were answered in the 76-hour A&P class. I found myself watching extra videos to learn more and adding science-type videos to my Netflix queue. My mother had to hear about everything I’d learned the night before in our morning telephone conversation as I made breakfast.

Once students have completed Lesson 3 of the Aromatherapy Certification Program (ACP), they can begin case studies. In order to complete 20 case studies, students meet with five different people and hand in four reports for each person. This gives students the opportunity to follow up with “clients” and track progress. Each case study receives feedback from a teacher at Aromahead Institute. The Director of Student Services, Mina Napolitano, reviewed my case studies with Andrea Butje and sent me feedback on each case study that I submitted. The comments were encouraging, constructive, and she provided wonderful suggestions for alternatives to what I presented. I was not expecting to get such detailed feedback, and this information really helped me to get better with each report I completed.

As I was working through my case studies, I started to think about what I might like to write about for my research paper. This was the biggest struggle for me. Although I blog regularly, it’s been years since I’ve written an official “research paper” for review. I hit the books and the internet for weeks searching for inspiration. The idea for my paper finally came to me in a dream (or at least very late at night) and I woke up the next morning knowing exactly what I wanted to write about. I outlined my paper and began writing it and looking for resources to cite. The end result was: “What’s in your bottle? The Answer is not as simple as you’d think: The Adulteration, Degradation, Contamination and Misrepresentation of Essential Oils. Plus an Idea of How to Make Things Better.”

Before I even started my paper, I had already completed most of my case studies and passed both the ACP (100%) and A&P (94%) exams. By July 23, 2015 I had received my certificate officially naming me as a Certified Aromatherapist!

Emily Carpenter, Certified Aromatherapist

So what do I plan to do with my aromatherapy certification? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out, but I do know a few things. Here’s how I plan to start out using my certification:

  • I’ll be sharing more about aromatherapy here on Marvy Moms
  • Private aromatherapy consultations
  • Combined Reiki and aromatherapy sessions
  • Community education sessions on aromatherapy and essential oil safety
  • Eventually I will add herbalism and homeopathy as I complete those programs

Regardless of what I do with my aromatherapy certification, I am grateful that the process has given me:

  • A better idea of how my body works and things I can do to make it work better
  • An understanding and respect for the chemistry of essential oils
  • New ways to use essential oils
  • Ever-evolving ACP and A&P course material to refer back to (which I do often)
  • A community of aromatherapists
  • More information to share with all of you!

If you’re considering becoming a Certified Aromatherapist I recommend finding a school that resonates with you and going for it! NAHA and AIA both have lists of schools that are recognized (AIA) or approved (NAHA). Of course, I loved my experience with Aromahead and they are on both lists. There is another aromatherapist local to me that went through Aromahead certification before classes were offered online and she has great things to say as well (her enthusiasm and encouragement was another reason I chose Aromahead).

There are some “certification” courses out there that you should steer clear of. I won’t name them here, but I’d say that if it seems too good to be true (especially price) then it just might be too good to be true. NAHA has an unpublished list of schools that follow their guidelines but are not on the published “Approved Schools” list. If you call or send them a note they can tell you if a school you are considering is on their unpublished list or not.

If you’re not sure about whether you want to become a Certified Aromatherapist or not, there are still some great classes out there to expand your knowledge of essential oils. Many people start out with Aromahead’s free Introduction to Essential Oils Class or their Aromatherapy for Natural Living class. Find a school(s) you like and take them for a test drive. You’ll know soon enough if you want to learn more!

About Emily Carpenter

Emily is a Web Whiz, Blogger, Speaker, Student, and Mom. She is the owner of WhizBang! Web Solutions LLC, and the founder of Marvy Moms. She loves working from home so that she can be there for every possible moment with her son, JW. Learning as she goes, Emily breastfed, bought cloth diapers (but never used them), made her son’s baby food, had a family bed for nearly two years, and loves spending time with her son. Emily is a certified Level II Reiki practitioner and offers her services both in-person and remotely to people interested in this energetic healing modality. Emily is currently enrolled as a student at the American Academy of Homeopathy to become a Certified Classical Homeopath and has earned a diploma in botanical medicine at Botanical Medicine Institute. She is also a Certified Aromatherapist, and received her training from Aromahead Institute.