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A Career in Fragrance: Where to Start


Do you dream of working as a perfume designer? If so, you may be wondering how to get started on this career path. 

Like many other careers, there are a few paths you can take to become a perfume designer. None will be quick or easy, but the payoff is worth it. From earning a degree to climbing the corporate ladder, here’s how to get started with a career in fragrance.

How to Get Started as a Perfume Designer

If your goal is to work as a perfume designer, you have three main approaches you can take:

  • Earn a degree and attend a specialized school
  • Train on the job
  • Learn through workshops and online courses 

Study Chemistry

Most perfume designers have a background in chemistry. After all, chemistry plays a vital role in perfumery. 

Perfumes are engineered to have three parts:

  • The top notes, which are the first to be noticed – and the first to evaporate.
  • The heart notes, which become apparent after 3-4 hours.
  • The base notes, which take the longest to evaporate and can be smelled 5-8 hours after application.

Understanding how different scents evaporate and work together will help you build better and long-lasting perfumes.

If you’re serious about a career in fragrance, find a school with a chemistry program. Some colleges and universities have advanced classes or programs that focus on the chemistry of perfume. These courses will provide specialized knowledge that will help you in your career.

For many in the perfume industry, earning a degree in chemistry was the first step in their careers. Once you have earned your degree, you can begin applying for internships and entry-level positions. From here, you can climb the ladder to the role of a perfume designer.

Keep in mind that it can take many years just to earn a position as a student perfumer working under a master perfumer.

Attend a Perfumer School

Once you have earned a degree in chemistry, you can attend a perfumer school to gain more specialized knowledge in perfume and scent in general.

Several well-known and respected schools focus on perfume and cosmetics, including:

  • ISPICA School
  • Givaudan Perfumery School
  • L’Ecole Superieure du Parfum
  • Grasse Institute of Perfumery

The most prestigious perfume schools are in France, and many only accept up to 20 students per year.

A perfumery degree will require an additional 2-4 years of education. While earning your degree, you can apply for an apprenticeship and work under a senior perfumer. An apprenticeship will give you a glimpse of what it will be like working in the industry and how teams work together.

An apprenticeship will be required to complete your degree.

On-the-Job Training

If formal education isn’t an option for you, consider on-the-job training. Start with an entry-level position at a perfume house or cosmetics company. From here, you can develop the skills and training while on the job to work your way up to a perfume designer role eventually.

Entry-level positions can include:

  • Testers
  • Lab technicians
  • Office workers

Many large companies in the perfume and cosmetics industry have internal training programs to teach you the basics of scent design and development. However, you may be required to continue working for the company for a set number of years after you complete your training.

Experiment at Home

Another option is to simply experiment at home and try to make your way as an independent perfume designer. 

Today, you have access to so many online courses, and that includes perfume creation. It may not be the same level of education provided by an accredited college or university, but it can be the first step to someone who wants to run as a small, independent perfumer.

Launching a small independent perfumery will require hard work, dedication and patience. Many individuals are selling their perfume creations through their online shops, but it’s important to remember that running your own business can be challenging. 

A career in fragrance can be exciting and rewarding. The right scent can make you feel confident and uplifted. As a perfume designer, you will be helping people feel their best. Although the road can be long and challenging, it’s a worthwhile pursuit for anyone with a passion for scent. 

Are you interested in a career as a perfume designer? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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