Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Becoming an Aromatherapist | How I Chose My School

I wrote a few months ago about my decision to start my journey to becoming a Certified Aroma Therapist.   This is the second post about becoming an aromatherapist out of many, I'm sure.  In this post I will tell you how I personally went about choosing my aromatherapy school.  Plus an update on how that is going!

Before I begin I want to make it clear that what was important to me may not be important to you.   If you are searching for a school right now you really need to sit down and make a list of your priorities and then begin your research based off your own priorities. 

Here is how I chose my school...

Type of Classroom
There are in person, online, and correspondence options when it comes to aromatherapy schools.  I love the idea of an in person classroom (and this is actually what I have chosen for going for my herbalist certification... more on that later!), but unfortunately there were no CA options in my area. 

Online is another great option, but knowing where I live I saw a flaw in that option.  We often lose internet here, sometimes for days on end.  I didn't want to have an important deadline or really be in the groove with my class and have to stop due to an outage.  Online is also not the best option for my style of learning.

I am a book person.  I want to open a book, read it, feel it, carry it with me, etc.  So I realized that a correspondence class was one that fit me best.  Although this wasn't a deal breaker for me, I would happily do an online class if it ended up being a good fit. 

Classroom Hours
Here's where I may differ from my American readers.  I wanted a Canadian course.  I live very close to the border and Canada tends to have stricter standards for CAs than America.  Although there is still no government regulation when it comes to education, Canadian organizations have created criteria that requires a bit more time and sections than American schools.  I know that if I ever decide to open a brick and mortar store in my town there's a good chance I'll have some Canadian clients.  If they know anything about CA's I wanted them to know that I have education that aligns with their standards, and possibly even join some Canadian organizations.

This isn't saying that American Standards aren't good, they are!  Canada just requires a little bit more.  I quickly realized that in order to become certified AND be able to list myself with a Canadian organization I was better off taking a Canadian class.  Some of the more popular American classes wouldn't give me the number of hours Canada requires, even if I took their advanced classes.

All this in mind I quickly narrowed my research down to Canadian schools that offered 300 hour 101 courses.

It's important to find someone you connect with, or at least someone you are comfortable working with.  I wanted an instructor who had ample years of experience in the aromatherapy field that they were able to teach based on their years of experience.  Someone who could answer questions I have not from reading from a book, but from pulling from their experiences.

I also wanted someone who was quick to reply to emails and took the time to answer the questions I had.  So when I had my choices narrowed down to two schools I emailed both the same list of questions and waited.  Then I sent a follow up email to see the response time on that and strongly considered this timing in my decision.

While I'd love to have endless funds and have the cost of a program not be a consideration in my decision, it was.  It was a BIG consideration.   It was also the reason that Canadian schools were so appealing to me.

You see, they charge about the same as American schools, but charge in Canadian dollars.  As an American I would pay in American dollars and benefit from the weak Canadian dollar in this transaction.  At the time I paid for my course I was able to save 30% on the cost.  So my $555 course only cost me about $400 after I paid for shipping and taxes.  That's not too bad considering it was a 300 hour course and many American schools charge twice that for half the amount of hours.

Those were my main criteria for choosing a school.  I then spent HOURS looking at website after website, mostly using the NAHA and AIA websites to find schools, and narrowed it down to two schools.  My email correspondence with them narrowed it down to my final choice. 

Colleen was quick to answer emails, offered a 300 hour 101 correspondence course, and charged in Canadian dollars.  Essence of Thyme checked every box for me.

I started the course in October and recently finished my midterm exam.  Being halfway through the course I can tell you that I am extremely happy with how things are going!  I am learning so much using a style that works for me.  I have even started taking on a few clients (actually required as part of the midterm!) and love created custom products.  So much so I even opened my own Etsy shop called the North Shore Apothecary.

I am not a certified aromatherapist... yet!  I am in line to finish my course in January or February next year.  Then I am taking an in-person Herbalism course to become a Certified Herbalist.  Once I complete that I will finish my aromatherapy degree with Colleen's 201 Course, which is an additional 300 hours for a total of 600 hours of education.  Then maybe I'll get my Master Herbalist certification.  And then I will really be looking to expand North Shore into something great... I hope! 

Stay tuned.  I'll update more on my Aromatherapy journey in a few months!

No comments: