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  1. #1

    Default What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Hi guys. I'm currently a high school senior going to college for biology and planning to take the pre-med route. I really enjoy biology however I wanted to know what courses I can take to help me later on in my life with my fragrance passion. Also I saw a school in England that offers a course and certification. Do you think that when I get to college I could do a study abroad program to this school or will my school have a list of schools I am allowed to visit. Thanks for your suggestions and help.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    No doubt chemistry

  3. #3

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    I watched the 3 part documentary on the BBC about perfume. All the students seem to have chemistry as a background.
    DONNA

  4. #4

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    You cannot really study anything... look at masters like Andy Tauer. Self Taught. Trial and Error is the best teacher i say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by donna255 View Post
    I watched the 3 part documentary on the BBC about perfume. All the students seem to have chemistry as a background.
    Type "BBC PERFUME" into youtube to find this documentary. It's amazing. a must see.!

  5. #5
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Agree with others - definitely a background in chemistry wouldn't hurt.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Biology would certainly help too, as it will help you to later study the olfactory sciences aswel as botany, or ethnobotany.

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    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    A college degree is vitally necessary at this time in the world and should be pursued regardless, but a chemistry degree won't increase your chances of being a successful perfumer any more than a literature major would.

    Perfumery is an art, no less than it is a science. Walkdogg is correct. Self-teaching is the best way to go. You can pay top dollar at the highest prestiged university you want, and it won't teach you half of what you can learn yourself for free if you have discipline and a curious mind.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Quote Originally Posted by noirdrakkar View Post
    A college degree is vitally necessary at this time in the world and should be pursued regardless, but a chemistry degree won't increase your chances of being a successful perfumer any more than a literature major would.

    Perfumery is an art, no less than it is a science. Walkdogg is correct. Self-teaching is the best way to go. You can pay top dollar at the highest prestiged university you want, and it won't teach you half of what you can learn yourself for free if you have discipline and a curious mind.
    I disagree to a certain degree. I think Andy Tauer's success is partially due to his experience as a chemist. Not entirely of course, but understanding molecular structures, and using proper laboratory procedures for years had to help and it's doubtful he would have had the oppty to acquire that experience without a degree. I'm a big proponent of autodidacticism, but it isn't for everyone.

  9. #9

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Virtually all the perfumers currently working in the major fragrance manufacturers and Houses were first trained as organic chemists, at least to degree level, often further. This isn't coincidence.

    I, however, do not have a degree in organic chemistry and I've had to learn huge amounts of chemistry to catch-up with those who do and so practice the art effectively. Without it you are like a painter attempting to paint, without any of the techniques of colour blending or brush-strokes: it isn't impossible to produce great art, but it's much less likely.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
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    Chris Bartlett
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    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

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    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    good point social woman.

  11. #11
    Basenotes Junkie Curly11's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Virtually all the perfumers currently working in the major fragrance manufacturers and Houses were first trained as organic chemists, at least to degree level, often further. This isn't coincidence.

    I, however, do not have a degree in organic chemistry and I've had to learn huge amounts of chemistry to catch-up with those who do and so practice the art effectively. Without it you are like a painter attempting to paint, without any of the techniques of colour blending or brush-strokes: it isn't impossible to produce great art, but it's much less likely.
    How many weeks or months do you think you spent trying to catch up?

  12. #12

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    The question that the OP asked was what classes will help him achieve his goals to become a perfumer. I think the answer to that question is unequivocally a degree in chemistry. While some responses have focused on whether a degree is necessary to become a good or great perfumer those responses miss the point that fragrance industry employers expect and/or demand their employees to have a scientific degree to even be considered for employment.

    On a related note the fragrance industry is very small, and breaking into it can come down to dumb luck. A degree in organic chemistry is a respected degree and would be applicable to other creative sensory jobs like the flavor industry. I don't think you can go wrong with either of those industries. Good luck.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Curly11 View Post
    How many weeks or months do you think you spent trying to catch up?
    I just spotted there was a specific question for me here, sorry. The answer is it's an ongoing project: I've spent about 2 years of highly intensive effort (by which I mean an average of 8 hours a day 6 days a week) studying and practicing alongside other activities necessary to run a business. That has given me a lot of knowledge, but I'm constantly discovering more things I don't know: it is a characteristic of developing expertise in any subject I think that the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don't know and that has certainly been my experience of fragrance chemistry.

    I wouldn't trade those hours though: it has been, and continues to be, a fascinating experience.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
    ― Dave Barry

    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  14. #14

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    You should probably major in biochemistry, and while you are in college, in your spare time (if you have any) buy raw materials and research and practice perfumery on your own. Once you try learning to make perfume, then you'll really know that you love it. And if you don't love it, and change your mind about what you want to do, use your biochemistry degree to go to med school. Biochemistry seems better suited for the fragrance industry anyways because you will be studying organic chemistry. If you really love biology, you could double major in that as well.

    This way, you have a safety net, and if you can't or don't want to go into the fragrance industry, you can still do something you enjoy and try to go to med school. I am a biochemistry major and this is exactly what I am doing. After you graduate, if you still want to study perfumery, you can go to the ISIPCA or work for a company and can learn in that company.

  15. #15
    Basenotes Junkie Curly11's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    I just spotted there was a specific question for me here, sorry. The answer is it's an ongoing project: I've spent about 2 years of highly intensive effort (by which I mean an average of 8 hours a day 6 days a week) studying and practicing alongside other activities necessary to run a business. That has given me a lot of knowledge, but I'm constantly discovering more things I don't know: it is a characteristic of developing expertise in any subject I think that the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don't know and that has certainly been my experience of fragrance chemistry.

    I wouldn't trade those hours though: it has been, and continues to be, a fascinating experience.
    Thanks for the reply. I thought maybe I'd insulted you with my question. Evidently you've been diligent, but I would guess that you have natural aptitude. It's been many years since my last organic chemistry class, but I do remember being perplexed. Perfumery is far more fascinating than I previously knew - there is an immense content in the discipline that goes far beyond creating an appealing fragrance.

  16. #16

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    A degree in organic chemistry, or at least a major focus in that subject in college is pretty much standard if you wish to work for the 'big houses', or as a technical perfumer for corporations that make laundry soap, etc. That said, I do know that IFF and other big houses have taken in some perfumer trainees without the chem background. If you wish to be an artisan perfumer, you can, if you wish, not study chemistry. If you learn the Jean Carles method, which I teach my students, you will find all the chemical reactions occur when you make mods, and you can select the winners for your perfumes. Carles never studied perfumery, and declared he wouldn't accept a student who had. Kind of an odd statement, but I'm sure he had some clashes with them. His method works, and was the start of the Givaudan school. I have created private label formulations that included shampoos, lotions, soaps, etc., and for that I work with a contract manufacturer, and they have chemists on staff, so that works in my favor, me being a non-chemistry major.

    About the study: traveling and investing lots of money in a brick-and-mortar school isn't for everyone. I, and others, offer online courses, with private tutorial and independent study options. Hope this information helps.
    Anya McCoy - http://anyasgarden.com/
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  17. #17

    Default Re: What do I study to become a perfumer?

    Hi 102,
    Just thought I'd add to the conversation. I'm a college sophomore now on the way to a Biology degree and heading toward pre-med as well. I'm also minoring in chemistry because my required classes have a prebuilt chemistry minor in it. (All I have to do is take one extra chemistry class and I have enough credits) I have no idea if the college you plan to going to does the same thing but it's worth looking into.

    Secondly, I think the only reason why I've grown a liking to this hobby is because of my fundamental background in both chemistry and biology. The concepts of perfuming were much easier to grasp with previous knowledge of both and I find it easier (and more interesting) to learn in class when I can relate the info back to perfuming. So I would say that if you want to study perfuming definitely take some chemistry classes. Everything else I've learned about perfuming so far as been from scanning the internet for places like this. Just watch your sources.

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