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August 22, 2019 4 min read

Hooray!!!! It seems like more and more individuals are becoming educated regarding essential oils! This is a beautiful and amazing thing considering how many still do not see the value of spending money on institutions that specialize in essential oil education. However, there is a downside to this as well.

With so many becoming more educated, I worry that too many are placing too much value on a certificate versus the knowledge they gain. Let me explain as best I can…

Regulation of Industry Titles

The essential oil industry is largely unregulated when it comes to registration or licensure in the United States. In fact, the only viable title given to anyone that holds any weight whatsoever is that of a Registered Aromatherapist or RA. This title is only given by the Aromatherapy Registration Council once an individual has demonstrated their knowledge via a proctored exam.

Individuals cannot even apply for this exam until they have received a certificate from an institution validating they have taken and completed at least 200 hours’ worth of essential oil studies. They are also required to have taken a program that offers basic anatomy and physiology as well.

In addition to these requirements to even take the exam, if you pass you still must maintain continuing education credits. Every five years you either retest or you must turn in 100 or more continuing education credits from approved workshops and schools. So, you don’t just get a title – you continue to learn and grow. If you are curious about more, read here. For now, let’s get back to the certificates individuals receive.

Essential Oil Certificates Versus Titles

Titles versus Certificates

I know I have written about this before, but perhaps I wasn’t clear on titles. Without any real regulation of registration or licensure like other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities (think massage therapy), there are no real titles gained from earning certificates. Please, let this sink in and consider what it really means.

In other words, an individual who receives a certificate from any institution offering essential oil education is just that – a certificate holder. After earning a few of my own certificates and really looking at all the angles of this, I can tell you it stinks. I even thought at one point that I could call myself a “Clinical Certified Aromatherapist.” The reality is though, that while I may have clinical training and knowledge, I do NOT work in a clinical setting. Additionally, that title was not given to me by any regulatory body that verified my knowledge base.

So can I call myself a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist or CCA? Yes, but does that make this titling accurate? Unfortunately, it does not. I am, like many others, a certificate holder for several programs and workshops and have invested in learning the appropriate educational materials for essential oils. While all the certificates are very meaningful to myself and others, the only validation they offer is that I (we) have completed a program or workshop.

Does this mean that the programs and all the hours I or anyone else have invested in are for nothing? Goodness no! It does mean that I and others value this knowledge and have made a significant investment in ourselves to be able to express that knowledge in an effective and efficient manner when considering risks and benefits. This alone is very important.

What Titles Have You Seen…

Now that I have really tried to explain things, I want to share a list of titles I have seen over the last decade. This list is not going to be conclusive but relevant. Why? Because these titles are not titles given by a regulated body with no affiliation to anybusinesses or schools regarding essential oils.

  • Wellness Advocate
  • Wellness Practitioner
  • Natural Health Advocate
  • Certified Essential Oil Coach
  • Clinical Aromatherapist
  • Certified Aromatherapist
  • Certified Clinical Aromatherapist

Without a truly unbiased regulating body to issue the appropriate registration titles or licensure, these are sadly self-proclaimed titles. For someone like myself to really look at the reality of things, I mentioned before, it stinks. However, it is the truth. The only real title is that of a Registered Aromatherapist (RA).

This title does not consider the hundreds and thousands of hours individuals like myself have studied to gain more knowledge and be a more effective practitioner. This title doesn’t separate the new certificate holders from the vintage aromatherapists who have laid the path for many of us to follow and continue their work.

This title is however offered by an unbiased organization that tests the knowledge of those seeking to hold it. It allows those taking it to demonstrate a base level of knowledge via a proctored exam. And honestly, it is the only one available currently that holds any weight because it holds no affiliations to any programs or businesses.

To My Fellow Certificate Holders

I did not voice myself to create dissension, but to show you and those that are interested in gaining knowledge, that if we truly want a “title,” we have some work to do or we have some other concerns that need addressing. The ARC I am sure would love more volunteers to help us all get to the next level. That may be what it takes.

Questions we need to ask include what does more titling look like? How would it work? What would be the differences and qualifications needed if we had other titling? Is a title that important? Or is the knowledge that we have gained of more importance?

I suppose it is up to each of us to decide that and see if creating something more than what we have is needed. For now, I will continue learning and holding more certificates because those little pieces of paper are about more to me. They are about being able to continue learning, being able to demonstrate what I have learned, and to be able to continue helping others with a balanced view.