Most of the big perfumers have had family contacts or some other contacts within the industry. Some have learned as apprentices under other perfumers, technicians, and chemists. A few great perfumers have been turned down by the professional perfumery school ISIPCA (http://www.isipca.fr/isipca/home.nsf/P_CONS
), but these days I think it’s difficult to get a steady job without an ISIPCA diploma. Some go to the in-house schools of the big scent maker corporations like Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF, Symrise
, etc. Jean-Claude Ellena started as an intern at the Antoine Chiris factory before going to Givaudan for a short while. A lot of it has to with how much talent you have and who you know.