Do You Want to Be a Perfumer? Things to Consider

I receive many questions about training as a perfumer–how does one go about entering a perfumery school, what the salary is like, how many years the training takes place, etc. I try to respond to each letter, since I know how difficult it is to obtain the information about the industry, but lately I’ve noticed that many people contacting me have no idea what the profession entails. They hold romantic notions about working with beautiful scents and surrounded with other artistic people. It’s all true, but there is a negative side to this profession and it can be a shock to those who enter the industry. In my new video, I explain what the cons of perfumery as a profession is and what qualities a perfumer should have.

Of course, I share my experience working for some of the largest perfume companies in the industry, and my insight is influenced by that. People working for smaller houses or niche outfits would have a much different perspective. On the other hand, many people attempting to enter the industry want to work for the likes of IFF and Givaudan and create fragrances for brands like Dior and Estée Lauder.

My explanation is not meant to discourage anybody, but rather to give a realistic, clear-sighted view. Once you know what to expect, you are prepared. The positive sides of this profession are evident–creativity, passion, and of course, beautiful fragrances.

If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments.



  • Lucas: I had an interview for Givaudan perfumery school in 2019 and one doesn’t even have the idea there are multiple kinds of perfumers. People mostly speak aboit fine fragramce perfumers but there are also perfumers responsible for creating consumer fragrances for global brands that are used in your laundry or home care products. Then there’s also technical perfumers who specialize in reworking existing fragrances depending On customer needs or changing regulatory stuff. So many options.

    I almost made it back then and still hope to enter in the future. February 8, 2021 at 9:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s true. There is more to this profession than just fine fragrance perfumery.
      Good luck, Lucas! February 8, 2021 at 11:04am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Great presentation, Victoria! I think what you said is true of any serious profession. In the legal profession, for example, novices must submit to constant criticism and editing of their work for years. Throughout one’s career most professionals will be required to collaborate with others and to make changes per their opinions. Even after almost 40 years of practice I often had my legal work edited by 3 or 4 people on any big project. And I was totally fine with that. The end product was better since each editor brought a little different perspective to the table.

    And, in every profession, one learns to do one’s best work even though the project/brief is not one you particularly like or believe is the best way to do something. February 8, 2021 at 9:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Very true! The problem is that there is so little information about the industry, so people don’t have a clear idea what the profession entails and how competitive it really is. February 8, 2021 at 11:07am Reply

  • Wild Gardener: Is it true there are more astronauts in the world than perfumers? February 8, 2021 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: This is a common thing that you hear, but I don’t believe that it’s true. February 8, 2021 at 11:00am Reply

      • Wild Gardener: It would be unlikely if you include all the functional and technical perfumers, as well as all the independents these days.
        I suppose if it was just master perfumers then it might be a closer run thing. February 8, 2021 at 11:05am Reply

        • Victoria: I agree. The industry is not that small. I also don’t understand why that’s even a relevant comparison. 🙂 February 8, 2021 at 11:08am Reply

  • Paul Kiler: Nicely said… BRAVO! February 8, 2021 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Constancesuze: Thank you, Victoria!
    I’m one of the people who reached out to you about how to be a perfumer (once, many years ago), and I remember thinking your reply was very curt and discouraging. I realize now how much time it would take you to answer all of those emails when so little is know about how the fragrance industry operates, and how hard it would be to be a public-facing touchpoint for everyone who is curious.
    Now happily an evaluation trainee at IFF 🙂
    Thank you for all of your writing February 9, 2021 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I remember your message, Constance, because you were one of the handful of people who took time to reply and thank me.
      Now I didn’t think that my reply was discouraging, just factual. I think I said that you need either a diploma from ISIPCA or to get training with one of the suppliers. And look where you are now! Bravo! I’m very happy for you. February 9, 2021 at 10:41am Reply

      • Constancesuze: I’m glad you remember my message, I’m sorry more people don’t thank you for your advice. I think the facts about joining the perfume industry can be a bit discouraging, since there are so few paths. But I’m happy at how things turned out, and it’s been a privilege to follow your writing! February 9, 2021 at 9:32pm Reply

  • Peter: Mahalo nui loa, Victoria, for becoming a Perfume Creator. The more you reveal the grit under the glamor, the more I appreciate You and your Comrades. February 9, 2021 at 11:13pm Reply

  • Muriel: Hello Victoria,
    Thanks a lot for this (once again) super interesting video! It is indeed very sad that there isn’t much information on that profession. It is also a discipline that is not at all mentioned at school where the sense of smell is completely ignored, which might be why it is still so exclusive. When I finally discovered how important smells were to me, I kind of regretted I had not known before… (as a teenager, I hesitated between chemistry and languages to enter university, and went for languages and literature), but I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to endure the constant competition of the perfume industry. However, working with smells, just for your own pleasure is extremely rewarding. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!! February 10, 2021 at 6:42am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Fascinating talk, Victoria.

    Sensitivity, Curiosity, Persistence and Enjoyment/Passion! Four main ingredients for budding perfumers to keep in mind, as per your video. I was really struck by how similar these qualities are for success in many professions. When my students (university) seek tips for success, I always say pretty much the same thing. The first three are crucial qualities that please employers and the last is crucial for pleasing oneself. February 11, 2021 at 5:25pm Reply

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