Career in the perfume industry
Flavor and fragrance compounds are created for different products ranging from cosmetics and toiletries to household cleaning and oral care products. They are also used in foods, snacks and beverages. Basically, they are used when the base smell of the final product needs to be masked.
Internationally, the University of Plymouth, UK, and ISIPCA, Versailles, France offer courses in this area. The Honors BA in Business and Perfumery from the University of Plymouth is an undergraduate program with Perfumery electives and accredited by the International Federation of Essential Oils and Flavor Trades (IFEAT). ISIPCA offers higher education and training programs in the fields of perfumery, cosmetics and aroma. In addition to the above, major flavor and fragrance houses offer training programs for aspirants. Also in India, many multinational and local flavor and fragrance houses are actively recruiting and training potential candidates.
There are three main disciplines in perfumery: the creation, application and evaluation of fragrances. Aspiring students may have a range of job opportunities in these categories. The creation of perfume consists of creating new compounds and a multitude of creative processes to train in the profession of perfumer. It is a blend of organic chemistry and the art of perfumery. A bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in chemistry or science with chemistry as a discipline is preferred.
The applications department understands roles relating to the safety, stability and performance of fragrances in the intended base. Analytical chemists and holders of a bachelor’s degree in chemistry can apply for jobs in this department. The evaluation of fragrances is about understanding the performance, stability and safety in the end-use situation from the consumer’s perspective. Those with a background in science and marketing research have many opportunities in this department.
Although a good sense of smell is a prerequisite, there are certain scents that only a few people can distinguish. For example, some people have trouble smelling different functional groups of musk. You can develop your olfactory memory by practicing smelling different ingredients over time. With practice, you will be able to memorize smells and develop your olfactory vocabulary.
The global perfume industry is worth about $24 billion and India contributes about $500 million. The current growth rate is 11%. To help the industry grow, buyer education is an important aspect of perfume retailing in India. India’s aromatic heritage is a key factor for the perfume and perfumery industry to run smoothly.
You have to gain experience in laboratory courses and complete several internships. This field also requires time management and multitasking skills. You have to learn to work in teams because perfume chemists are more likely to team up with groups of researchers. Developing communication skills can help express or explain ideas, data, and thoughts to colleagues. As there are not too many perfumers available, salary levels are high and it is a lucrative career for those interested in this lifestyle business.
The writer is a fragrance designer and managing director, Ripple Fragrances.