How To Pick The Best Aromatherapy School for You
There are hundreds if not thousands of schools offering aromatherapy education all over the world. How does one choose the right program? The answer is it depends on many factors.
Why do you want to learn aromatherapy?
The first factor to consider is, why do you want to learn about aromatherapy? If you are a parent looking for bite-sized information to safely use essential oils with your family, a certification program might be too much. On the flip side, if you are an individual hoping to build a reputable business out of this, certification matters, so a quick weekend course is not going to cut it!
Many aromatherapy programs have accreditation from a third-party organization that ensures the program’s education is of high quality and follows current science. If a school is offering a program without reliable science, the education is unlikely to be correct. If a school opts not to join such organizations that enforce a minimum standard of practice on individuals and the curriculum they provide (e.g. the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists), one might ask why a school wouldn’t want to be part of something so important and relevant for public trust.
Aromatherapy is an unregulated industry in Canada and the U.S., so the professional organizations that manage these accreditations are not legally required to do so, and schools are not legally obliged to be recognized by them. This has been the case for many health modalities over the years including massage therapy, which is not a regulated industry in every province in Canada.
The benefit of a school providing an accredited program is that the association's prime focus is protecting the public from unsafe practices and to focus on the science. This is even more important currently because many companies promote aromatherapy and suggest it can just be practised by anyone. The truth is aromatherapy is a modality of its own and will require far more than a few written words to truly understand how to use and practise it safely. Because of that, the individuals practising aromatherapy are liable and should be appropriately insured, educated and keeping up with science through continuing education. Accreditation offers that while books and offhand diplomas/certificates do not.
Who is teaching the program?
After you have discovered what level of education you need, look at the source of the education. There are two parts to this answer: do they have qualifications in aromatherapy from an accredited organization, and do they also offer additional knowledge that could be valuable to me?
There are countless self-appointed experts in the world claiming to have the skills or qualifications to teach and practise anything, but many don’t hold more than a weekend course or have just done extensive reading and have not taken their knowledge to a level that can be tested and proven via profession. We suggest that learning aromatherapy should come from an aromatherapist with membership at an association that is recognized.
Alternative qualifications may also be valuable to a student. For example, if you were learning about aromatherapy, but interested in expanding into other modalities, it could be beneficial to learn from an instructor who also has training in reflexology, reiki, massage therapy, nutrition, business management, or other areas of interest. This matters because while schools are required to follow an accredited curriculum, they may insert cross-over information or also provide courses for more advanced training on other subjects.
How do you learn?
How you learn is a huge reason for picking a program offered in a specific way. For example, if you struggle with being self-accountable, in-person or scheduled class time may be better for you. Alternatively, if you have a family or a job and need scheduling flexibility, online is probably better suited to your needs.
Do you need support with both written word and videos? If the answer is yes, look for a program offering that. Are you comfortable learning online, but want to do guided studies? If the answer is yes, you will likely want an online school with the added feature of guided group studies.
Are you a pencil-to-paper person? Really dig deep into how the material is offered and presented. A strictly online or correspondence-type course might not work for you.
Do you need digital flexibility? Like you want to be able to do most of your coursework from your phone or on the go? You might not want a school that will send you a booklet, but instead a school with a flexible online presence.
Just like a business must know and understand how to attract their ideal customer, schools should know how to appeal to their ideal student. If a school has an antiquated website and that feels like an issue for you, you will likely find issues in other areas as you dig into your studies. If a school doesn’t reply to your e-mail in a way that is easily understood by you, you might run into communications problems. If a school takes several days to weeks to reply to your inquiry about their programs, chances are they will take this long to reply to your questions while you are studying.
Explore the school's website and really get to know the online face of the school you wish to attend, then e-mail them with questions you might have, see how they respond and when, and assess if they are as approachable or hands-off as you prefer.
Instructor Bios: People Matter
Who will be teaching you? This matters because we all thrive with human connection and who we are connecting with will influence our experiences. Your school of interest should have instructor bios so you can read about them and get to know them. This is important because we often are attracted to like-minded people with whom we feel we have a connection. Does the instructor bio make you feel like you know the person or want to get to know them? Or does the bio make the school feel less appealing?
Not every course is priced the same, and while many schools can offer the same accredited content, the prices may vary based on the business model. This will have a major influence on the cost. For example, a school offering in-person courses will have to pay for instructor time and location, while an online business can reuse the instructor time repeatedly and the online platform would be a lower cost.
Online courses can even vary because online learning platforms also vary.
Does the school offer payment plans? Not every business is equipped to offer this option, or the model doesn’t effectively allow it. So, if you need to come up with $2,000 upfront, you might want to search for a school with a payment plan.
Government Tuition Benefits
Does the school you are interested in offer benefits that can give you a tax break? Some schools in Canada are considered a Designated Educational Institution, which means they went through a process for recognition with the government so they could share tax break benefits with their students.
In Canada, this means you can write off your tuition using a tuition receipt your school will send you around tax time (by the last day of February usually) and you will also have access to monthly tax credits based on the length of the course. For example, a school may be able to give you up to seven months of tax credits, which translates into $400 a month in tax credits. Many of these tax credits can also be carried forward to future years. It's best to check with your own tax professional about the implications and benefits of using a recognized school.
While the above suggestions are just a few to consider, there may be other reasons why you will choose one school over another. For example, you may opt for a school that’s been around longer, but you may also be working on paper and face-to-face with an older school when really you wanted more flexibility and time freedom. Alternatively, you may opt for a new school because you love the idea of the science being fresh and current, but the hands-off approach doesn’t resonate with you.
Make a list of all these suggestions, start making notes, research like crazy until you find exactly what you need. Try not to get too caught up in all the flashy social media posts as that’s only one part of your school puzzle!
Aromatherapy is one of the most popular growing industries in the world, so we hope this blog assists you in securing a school that meets and maybe exceeds all your education needs. Happy studying!
This blog was written by Essentria School of Aromatherapy Inc. You can learn more about Essentria at www.schoolofessentria.com and by joining their free Facebook group, Love Essential Oils with Essentria, where they post tips and tricks on how to use aromatherapy safely in your daily life.