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How to Become a Smell Tester With a Perfume Company

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Are you a perfume lover who dreams of spending your days sniffing nuanced fragrances? Do you have a superlative sense of smell and an ability to identify scents with precision? Have you developed an assortment of great ideas for intoxicating perfumes that have yet to be made? If you answered in the affirmative to any of these questions, you may have thought of becoming a professional smell tester at a perfume company. In fact, the people who actually do all of the critical smelling at perfume companies are perfumers. A career as a perfumer may be right for you.

Becoming a Perfumer

Familiarize yourself with the major perfume companies. Contrary to popular assumption, there are literally only a handful of perfume companies in the world. According to author and perfume critic Chandler Burr, these companies are responsible for developing and producing all of the fragrances available in the world--including those that appear to have been created by a fashion house, designer or celebrity.

Read books about the perfume industry. There are several available that offer an illuminating look at the major perfume companies and perfumers who work for them, as well as the history, art and science of perfumery.

Embrace science. Modern perfumery is not just about flowers. Synthetic molecules play a huge role in virtually all perfumes, and have since the 1920s. Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of how these synthetic molecules are developed and what they smell like.

Let your nose lead you, and smell everything. To further hone your skills as a sniffer, as well as your understanding of perfume and its components, expose yourself to as many perfumes as possible. Make a point of smelling everyday objects as well--everything from plants to paper and plastic. A perfumer must have a boundless smell vocabulary.

Start making your own perfume. There are numerous retailers from whom you can purchase the necessary supplies, including natural and synthetic essences, bottles and more. Practicing on a small scale will prepare you for work as a professional perfumer down the road.

Attend a school of perfumery. Like the major perfume companies, there are only a handful in the world. Aside from being the apprentice or child of a renowned perfumer, a formal education in perfumery is the best stepping stone toward becoming a perfumer at one of the major companies.

  • "The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York;" Chandler Burr, 2007
  • "The Secret of Scent;" Luca Turin, 2009

Rose Brown began writing professionally in 2003. Her articles have appeared in such Montana-based publications as "The Tributary" and "Edible Bozeman." She earned a bachelor's degree in literature from the University of California at San Diego, and a master's degree in English from Montana State University. Brown has been a professional florist since 1997.

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