Career as Fragrance Chemists/ Perfumers
If you have a keen sense of smell and like being in the company of fragrances or is fascinated by scent, to become a Perfumer or Fragrance Chemist could be the right career choice for you. This is a creative field which one can opt as a hobby or as a career, but it is not an easy field to get into. Career as a Perfumer or Fragrance chemist is one of the most challenging professions in the Flavours and Fragrances industry.
The word perfume comes from the Latin word 'per' means 'through' and 'fumum' means 'smoke'. Initially, perfumes were used in religious ceremonies, in the form of incense, but eventually, they were used by people to make themselves smell good. Making perfumes is an art that is thousands of years old. Historians believe that Mesopotamians were the first civilization to start perfumery through incense. Today, perfume is more popular than ever. Women adore it, men are using more and more fragrance products, and it's become a very mainstream middle-class product that even young people and kids are using. The sense of smell is one of the most powerful and persuasive of all human senses, so it's natural that perfume would entice us in many areas of daily living.
'Perfumery' is a term used in the perfume business to describe the business of producing and selling perfumes, or to the art of creating perfumes. A Perfumer is a term used for an expert on creating perfume compositions and flavouring. He is sometimes referred to as a Nose, due to fine sense of smell and skill in producing olfactory compositions. Perfumers are chemists who focus on fragrance production. A perfumer must have a keen knowledge of a large variety of fragrance ingredients and their smells, and be able to distinguish each of the fragrance ingredients whether alone or in combination with other fragrances. An understanding of chemistry is important to decipher the properties and reactivity of ingredients when making a fragrance. But the actual creation of perfumes goes beyond science.
Perfumers usually work for a fragrance house and their job focuses on coming up with aroma formulas for all sorts of products. They develop formulas to produce different smells not only in perfumes, they also add fragrance to everything from automobile air fresheners to antiperspirants, cleaning, laundry & personal-care products etc. Commonly-used ingredients in perfumery include fruits, flowers, oils, woods, resins, and plants. Among flowers, Rose is one of the most common ingredient used in perfumery.
Eligibility for Perfumers
The most important requisite for someone who wants to become a perfumer is developing a good nose for scent. In addition to being able to recognize smells, a perfumer must have a talent for combining smells in an attractive manner. Good memory power is a plus point to this career. Perfumers need to have a gift for working through trial and error, which requires a lot of patience and passion for the job. They also need excellent laboratory skills, good time management and team working skills, good written and oral communication skills and an inquiring mind. It is also important that aspirants have a passion for creation and a certain eagerness to experience new smells. Perfumers must also have knowledge of human and psychological behavior specifically in the area of smells that can trigger moods, memories or emotions.
In India, there are only a few schools to train in the field of perfumery. The perfumery course may teach you about the fragrance geneology, chemistry of fragrance, to recognize smells of hundreds of essential oils & enhance your olfactory sense, how departments work in a global perfume company etc. To enter the field of perfumery, one needs to have at least a degree in chemistry and then learn on the job. Those interested in high-ranking fragrance industry careers may want to consider an advanced degree like a master's or doctorate, as this can increase job opportunities. The training process to become a perfumer is intense and rigorous and takes many years. Some work as apprentices to established perfumists and learn the basics of perfume-making to become independent. This is a field where one keeps on learning and experimenting.
The training process to become a perfumer is intense and rigorous and takes many years. Some work as apprentices to established perfumists and learn the basics of perfume-making to become independent. This is a field where one keeps on learning and experimenting.
Job prospects & Career Options for Perfumers
There are only a thousand or so perfumists in the country, so there is a good chance for a lucrative career.
The job of the perfumer is very similar to that of food flavourists, who compose smells and flavourants for many commercial food products. A perfumers nature of work is similar to that of a researcher who spent most of the time experimenting with different types of scents. As a tester, you have to smell the fragrance, recommend changes, and analyze whether it will work with the buyers. Perfumers or Fragrance chemists may work in various areas within the fragrance industry. They may specialize in cleaning products, bath products or body scents.
Big Perfume houses or companies mainly have a creative, application and evaluation department. Those in creation are involved in the process of developing new fragrances. Application is to check the fragrance compound in the product. Besides having a solid knowledge of Analytical chemistry, those who work in the application department should study the product to understand its performance, constancy and legal compliances in terms of environmental pollutants and toxicity. Last one is evaluation or testing, where one analyses and evaluates performance of the product in actual use condition and recommend changes needed if any.
Most perfumers are employed by major fragrance producers or perfume houses, with a small number working exclusively for small independent perfume manufacturers who make customised perfumes. Today, a larger number work for other industries such as food and beverages industry that require regular testing of product smells and odors. In India, perfumery industry is in its blooming stage. SN Kelkar .Most of the major industries are in France where there are more scope for perfumers. The major perfume companies are IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc) from New York, Givaudan and Firmenich from Switzerland, Symrise, Fragrance Resources and Drom Fragrances from Germany, Mane and Robertet from France, Ungerer & Company from Chester, UK; and Tagasako from Japan. Of them Givaudan, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., Symrise, Robertet and Takasago have their offices in India. Perfumists can also find opportunities in tea, wine industry as well as in the field of Aroma Therapy.
A beginner in the field at application department can expect a pay scale ranging from Rs. 20,000 - 25,000. A candidate with a perfumery degree from an established school can earn around Rs. 35,000 in the initial stage itself. A perfumer in the creative department, after several years of experience, earns around Rs. 50,000 - 60,000 per month.
There are a few institutes in India that offer courses in perfumery. Mumbai University and Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai offers Masters in perfumery and flavours Technology. Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC) at Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh offers a one year course in Technology Development Programme in Aroma and its Management, open to students from both chemistry and non-chemistry background, as well as PG in Aroma Technology in partnership with the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. The centre offers short term courses as well.
VG Vaze College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai, under Kelkar Education Trust offers two year postgraduate diploma course in perfumery and cosmetic management. The course covers all aspects of perfumery, cosmetics and management. The trust is owned by SN Kelkar, one of the largest flavours and fragrance houses based in Mumbai.
Abroad, many universities offer courses in perfumery & one of the most reputed courses is offered by EFCM (European Fragrance and Cosmetics Masters degree) run by The Institut superieur Internatioanl du Parfum (ISIPCA) at the university of Versailles, France in partnership with the university of Padua in Italy. Most of the major perfume companies abroad have their own perfumery schools.
Fragrances and Flavours Association of India (FAFAI)
Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC)
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