Careers in Fragrance
Few people even think of a career in the fragrance industry and those who do often assume that you have to be a qualified chemist to stand a chance. This just isn’t the case.
For those who do enter the sector, most stay for their entire working life. They simply get ‘hooked’.
If you feel that a career in fragrance could be right for you, we provide here some examples of the types of jobs often available…
Warehouse operatives – goods in and despatch out. Receiving raw materials that are to be used within fragrances and sampling those for Q.A. department Quarantining until passed by Q.A. and ensuring good manufacturing processes are adhered to within a warehouse environment. Forklift truck driving is usually involved. In-house training is provided for the equipment and Health & Safety. On-the-job training includes a fork-lift truck driving licence. Quite often people in a fragrance company factory or warehouse are paid more than in other factories because of the number of skills needed and because they gain transferable skills.
Production compounders – these are the people who mix the fragrance to a formula. This is a skilled role for which in-house training is given. Attention to detail and a very meticulous approach are required, as weighing material to one sometimes two decimal points on a scale is needed, so ability to be precise is essential. It’s much harder than people think because you also have to be able to recognise precisely which chemical is required. There is opportunity for promotion to managerial roles – supervisors, shift leaders, production managers.
Laboratory work – three labs – overall skill set is similar:
1. Quality Control Laboratory– laboratory technicians need a high degree of attention to detail in order to check incoming materials against previous batches – colour and physical state of the oils (plus resins and crystals); and smell the grades of material. You may have to work some laboratory machinery running tests e.g. using a mass-spectrometer or a gas liquid chromatogram (GLC) and testing specific gravity measurements. Outgoing quality control involves assessing batch to batch variation of goods leaving the company and ensuring fragrances have been manufactured to specification via a range of tests including odour test comparisons, smelling batches over a 24 hour period.
2. Fragrance Compounding Laboratory – this section is split into 2 areas.
•Fragrance compounder – One prepares and blends samples for customers to a given recipe at the sample bench and often packs and despatches samples. Customers will be large and small retailers, household cleaning and laundry product manufactures, industrial and institutional market producing things like commercial cleaning products and air fresheners, right through to makers of fine (designer) fragrances and other toiletries and personal care items as well as cosmetics, candles, air freshening and aerosol products right down to diesel re-odorants to make them smell nicer.
•Perfumers’ Assistant – The other section is creative assistants/perfumers’ assistants working specifically for a perfumer during the creative process, blending materials to a given formula. The job is akin to being a PA to a perfumer.
3. Applications Laboratory –
Application Technician – these take finished fragrances and apply them to soap, foam bath, shampoo, candles, cleaning products and may be cosmetic scientists.
Managers tend to be well-qualified, often to degree level, and may have completed the Society of Cosmetic Chemists Diploma in Cosmetic Science. This position also includes stability testing fragrances in product and ensuring the fragrance compound is suitable for the product it was designed for.
Trainee perfumer – After being a Perfumers’ Assistant you may become a Trainee Perfumer for two years usually assisting a Perfumer. You would normally undertake your own compounding. Some companies require a degree but many do not. The training is usually in-house and involves smelling and learning the raw materials’ palette of 3000+ materials and how they work in combination.
Junior Perfumer – Five year term of work where you continue your training working under the supervision of a Perfumer although you may have your own customer assignments or projects.
Perfumer – Once qualified as a perfumer – usually after about 7 years – you are creating fragrances to meet a customer project or brief and proactively creating fragrances in line with trends and fashions.
Commensurate with experience and success, perfumers can move into the roles of Senior Perfumer and Chief Perfumer
Evaluators – If you love fragrance and know what’s hot and what’s not, this is the role for you. This is a liaison and monitoring job working with perfumers and ensuring the time-lines and creative direction for customer requests. They make sure that the right product is selected or created for each customer. They often start as Trainee (or Junior) Evaluators. A shorter training period of around 1 or two years is usual. They may have specific responsibilities e.g. looking after a sector or a customer. They evaluate and describe the odours available in the market-place; become aware of new trends; and stay ahead of the game on behalf of customers. It’s like being a ‘professional consumer’ conducting in-use panel testing and focus group. You would manage the company’s perfume library. Evaluators need to have their nose to the ground (pun intended) and help keep perfumers on track with trends and needs.
Marketing – Monitors trend from descriptive, fashion, trends and design point of view and may be chartered marketers. The role involves presenting the visual face of fragrance but without the smelling role that the evaluator does. The marketer would, for instance, spot a fragrance fashion trend and the evaluator would then review the products already in the market place which follow this same theme, noting the categories, the odours, advising customers and perfumers accordingly. The marketers, who are often MBA qualified, are responsible for strategic marketing and preparing business plans for the company.
Sales – Key account managers, sales representatives and other members of the customer services sales teams with a geographical or product speciality. The job involves liaising between customers and evaluation.
Regulatory Affairs – This is one of those less well known but interesting career options within the fragrance industry, particularly if you are looking to combine technical knowledge with commercial responsibilities.
Regulatory Affairs Officers, Executives and Managers are responsible for pulling together technical, development, quality and safety information on a product. It is an extremely complex area, and those who enjoy a varied role that requires a great deal of multi tasking might suit this area. In the fragrance industry, where critical information is needed for clients, products fall under different regulations as well as IFRA guidelines and often special customer requirements. The job requires a great deal of administration and documentation. Those already educated to degree level are usually those candidates sought for this department but not necessarily the only ones. Often fragrance industry experience in other roles will help you on your way to career in regulatory affairs, however be prepared to invest in a great deal of training in this complex area.
The industry desperately needs more professional sales people and laboratory compounders.
ICATS – The International Centre for Aromas Trades Studies offers distance learning-based courses with the backing of the University of Plymouth. These are suited to those intent on a career within the industry or as part of continuing professional development for those already within the industry. http://www.icatsaromaeducation.com/
The International Perfume Academy offers a spectrum of distance learning courses across olfactive, practical and technical topics including smelling techniques, perfume evaluation and regulations affecting the perfume industry.
These courses are offered by IFRA members or affiliates but are not endorsed or over-seen by IFRA and by offering the links here, IFRA UK does not take responsibility for their content.
For examples of some of those who have forged successful careers in the UK fragrance industry, click here…
Jobs in Fragrance
Members of IFRA UK may post job opportunities free of charge. Non-members should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to advertise.
UK Formulation Management Administrator, Brixworth
Click here for details. Deadline 30th April 2017.
P/T Regulatory Support, Pangbourne
Click here for details.