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  1. #1

    Default Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    This is kind of a silly wishful thinking topic. I'm currently studying Chemical Engineering at a university, which is great and all but I can't help but wonder sometimes if I could reroute that professionally into making fragrances.

    Now, I know there is A LOT to it, like specialized training somewhere abroad and smelling juts about everything imaginable. How realistic is it though?

    I mean, all of the blockbuster scents are made it seems by the same group of top-notch perfumers. Is it kind of like trying to become a pop-star or is it possible to find your own little niche and earn a decent living?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    Check this out, Vladdy:

    http://jaimeleparfum.wordpress.com/

    He's a BNer who did what you're saying - sucked it up and abandoned his previous plans, so that he could go into perfumery in school in France. He even learned French to do it. It's a tough road, though there are some other cases where people sort of dropped into perfumery accidentally with almost no effort.

    I knew a couple of guys who went into the industry through my background, chemistry. They were natural product chemists who went into the big aromachemical houses after school. If you are more interested in simply working in the fragrance industry than perfumery per se, you could stay on your present course, but take every opportunity to work toward a specialty in fragrance-oriented Chem. E., and hope to move into that end of the industry down the line.

    Also, remember that - just like in music - there are lots of professionals who are not stars but make a living and love their work. Hundreds or maybe thousands of regular Joes and Janes for every star. If you're willing to teach, lug your instrument to orchestra dates, sing clubs or play weddings, then in the perfume world, you could find yourself being a functional perfumer. And there's no shame in being an unknown perfumer. In a really great interview that I read, I learned who it is that Guerlain's Thierry Wasser admires: the functional perfumers who work on difficult chemical compositions!
    * * * *

  3. #3

    Default Re: Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    That's a great link, thanks!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    It depends where you are; I'm guessing you are based in the US. Most of the major fragrance houses have a presence in America; for some reason they all go to New Jersey. All of the big boys make their own aromachemicals as well, which could be your way in. Write to as many companies as possible telling them what you are studying and what you are interested in. Many houses with offer perfumery training. I got into Perfumery by joining a company that made fragrances, flavours and aromachemicals, after completing a degree in Biochemistry. I joined as a "graduate trainee", worked all over the place for a couple of years (from the factory to marketing including creative perfumery), passed a smelling test after working with a perfumer, and carried on from there. By the way, it takes about 8 years training before you can start calling yourself a perfumer.
    There aren't that many perfumers in the world, and even fewer superstar creatives, but the industry is always looking for new blood with new ideas. If you want it badly enough it will happen. Good luck.

  5. #5

    Lightbulb Re: Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vladdypwnz View Post
    This is kind of a silly wishful thinking topic. I'm currently studying Chemical Engineering at a university, which is great and all but I can't help but wonder sometimes if I could reroute that professionally into making fragrances.

    Now, I know there is A LOT to it, like specialized training somewhere abroad and smelling juts about everything imaginable. How realistic is it though?

    I mean, all of the blockbuster scents are made it seems by the same group of top-notch perfumers. Is it kind of like trying to become a pop-star or is it possible to find your own little niche and earn a decent living?

    I have worked as a perfumers assistant for so many years in the top 10 fragrance houses and I can tell you first hand it is nearly impossible to become a perfumer with just a chemistry degree. Some have degrees in chemistry, most do not only going to a perfumery school in france. About 90% are french, came from the perfumery school and have experience already. The other 10% got lucky and were trained by another perfumer. In order to be lucky, you must work for years and years and years of just compounding, doing trials and refilling bottles.

    There is no chemistry knowledge that you would need, I have a chemistry degree and used none of it. If you really want to be a perfumer, you will have to work for a snobby perfumer for over 10 years, if not 15. By then, you will be so tired of compounding and office politics and wishing you did something else.

    My advice is to go to school and get a degree where there is work. Look at jobs in your area, entry level jobs-what do they require? Go to a school with the least amount of tuition and get an advanced degree.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Does anyone have an insider view of becoming a perfumer?

    I will say the OP has moved on since his post is 2010 so its four years later.
    DONNA

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