The Perfumer - A Path to the Art


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Becoming a Perfumer

Perfumers are chosen in various ways, each company having a different procedure. Of course, the major criterion is a good nose and this is determined by a series of odor evaluation tests. Prospective perfumers are given a series of identified chemicals, numbering from 20-30 and is asked to study them for a short time. They are then given the same chemicals coded and asked to identify them. There are differences of opinion regarding how many a potential perfumer must identify, but 75-80%, would be considered appropriate.


A perfumer is a trained professional who creates fragrances for household products, toiletries, cosmetics, and fine fragrances for men and women. The training process to become a perfumer is intense and rigorous, spanning many years. The first task for a trainee perfumer is to study hundreds of natural and synthetic materials, cataloguing and memorizing them according to their specific odors.


The candidates remain apprentices for a minimum of 6 years and may never make the grade at all but, if they do, they become full-fledged perfumers and then can move up the ranks, depending on the success of their creations.

Three Schools:

Three-year basic training is available for talented young artist at the famous Institut Supérieur International du Parfum or ISIPCA in Versailles.

The address is:


Institut Supérieur International du Parfum, 34 - 36, rue du Parc de Clagny, F - 78000 Versailles, France, Tel: 33-1-3923-1450, or,

After basic training, you will spend further years alongside senior perfumers who will share the wealth of learning they have gained from customers and the marketplace, and how you can transform this experience into modern, fragrant compositions. A further opportunity is through the University of Plymouth Business School. This institute provides an in-depth look into the world of fragrances and all related industries, while allowing the established professional to expand his/her knowledge of fragrances. This concludes with an officially recognized diploma in perfumery ( IFEAT ).

The address is:

University of Plymouth,  Graduate Business School/ Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, United Kingdom, Tel:  44-17-5223-2496,, or e-mail to:

This is an international profession, so knowledge of languages – English at least – is essential.

We welcome you to the fascinating world of fragrances, to the world of the creative perfume artist, and to the international stage for those "with the right nose".


The address is:


Creative School of Perfumery, is at 21 Arlington Street, London SW1; Tel 020 7629 8468. Courses cost £ 550 and last either two full days or five evenings. 


Three Industry Schools:


Givaudan Establishes Perfumery School


Givaudan Perfumery School: A legendary institute that creates the world's leading fragrance artists.


School of Perfumery - SA 5, Chemin de la Parfumerie CH - 1214, Vernier, Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: 41 22 780 9111


The Givaudan Perfumery School nurtures and inspires tomorrow’s leading fragrance artisans with generations of knowledge, passion and expertise. Open since 1947, Givaudan is the first fragrance company in the world to have its own school, which is widely considered the crème de la crème of fragrance training for those in the fragrance industry. The Givaudan Perfumery School is located in a brand new facility near the Givaudan European Creative Center in Argenteuil, France on the picturesque banks of the Seine, where Monet painted some of his early pieces. The school, under the direction of Jean Guichard, has established a new standard of perfumery training - a structured technique that enables perfumers to systematically learn the entire spectrum of the olfactive genealogy and develop an olfactive memory of over 1200 ingredients


Developing World Class Talent

Without advertising or active recruitment, Givaudan receives over 200 applications for their Perfumery School each year. Givaudan does not accept tuition for training; acceptance is by invitation only. On the average, Givaudan selects only five new students every eighteen months, who dedicate at a minimum three years of study to become a Junior Perfumer. When study is complete, graduating perfumers have the opportunity to create fragrances for the most respected fragrance house in the world.  Today, it is estimated that thirty percent of the world’s fragrances have been created by a perfumer who was trained at Givaudan’s Perfumery School.

A constant source of top-notch talent, The Perfumery School is considered one of the cornerstones of Givaudan’s success. With over seventy perfumers on staff, Givaudan represents the largest and most culturally diverse perfumery team in the industry, with the ability to develop fragrances for virtually every product category in every region of the world. Givaudan’s New York Studio has also recently expanded the perfumery school to include a specialized program for key clients expressing and interest in exploring a deeper understanding of perfumery creation.

Givaudan is the essential source of sensory innovation for our customers driven by our mutual passion for excellence.


International Flavor & Fragrances


521 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, Tel: 212-765-5500


In September 2002, IFF opens a Perfumery School in its New York headquarters.  Under the direction of industry veteran Ron Winnegrad, the new school is part of a global program to create the legendary perfumers of tomorrow, guaranteeing that our customers will continue to collaborate with the most talented perfumers in the industry for years to come. 


IFF's Perfumery School ensures that our customers will continue to work with the best of the best - talented, creative perfumers and fragrance development managers that have trained with the industry giants. The IFF Perfumery School includes perfumery and fragrance development ( known as evaluation ) training programs. A rigorous selection process, including extensive interviews with members of the school’s advisory board and olfactory intelligence tests, ensures that IFF selects candidates who have the olfactory ability and behavioral competencies to become highly successful perfumers or evaluators.


Once selected, perfumery students participate in a four-year program that teaches them the basics of perfumery, enables them to gain an understanding of the fragrance preferences of consumers around the globe, and allows them to learn from the best by apprenticing with IFF’s senior perfumers.  Students are required to complete a thesis on a fragrance project related to IFF's business.  The result of this comprehensive training is a gifted team that consistently created spectacular, commercially-successfully fragrances.

Evaluation students participate in a 14-month program, split equally between instruction in the fundamentals of perfumery and experience in the marketing, applications, and project management aspects of the business. They are also required to complete a thesis on a fragrance project related to IFF's business.


Becoming a Student

IFF is committed to investing in our people and developing their talents. For this reason, our Perfumery School is only open to current employees, who must be nominated for consideration by one of our creative center managers and go through the selection process outlined above.  The only way to become a perfumer from within at IFF is by becoming a member of IFF at one of their creative centers, sales offices, and manufacturing facilities around the world.  Part of the reason why nothing new is being created, and why a lot of good talent is being over looked. 


IFF opens a new creative center for fragrances and beauty care in Bombay, India.  The company's investment in the 20,000 square-feet facility reflects its long-term commitment to the Indian market and dedication to providing customers there with world-class technology, expertise, service, and products.  Already a leader in the Indian flavors market, the new center provides the infrastructure for IFF to gain leadership in fragrance.


Symrise Establishes Perfumers' Academy


Symrise 3, rue des gravers 9220, Neuilly-Seine, France


Symrise has expanded its in-house perfumer training program with the Symrise Perfumers' Academy. The tri-level venture aims to educate noses at all career levels, from novel to senior perfumers. The Academy will provide basic fragrance training in addition to more advanced programs that will offer established perfumers training in communication and presentation skills, business management/finance and the latest chemistry.  The most seasoned noses will take part in exchange programs with top perfume firms and will take regional "fragrance expeditions," exploring fragrance's agricultural, production and market roots while gaining consumer insights (trends, etc.) on site.

"Perfumers are the creative heart and soul of our Scent & Care division," said Achim Daub, head, Scent & Care division, Symrise. "We feel it is absolutely essential that we nurture their talents to the best of our ability. By establishing the Symrise Perfumers' Academy, we hope to inspire our creative people; we want to give them as much freedom as possible to learn, travel and experiment so that they can, in turn, create innovative, imaginative fragrances again and again."


Suggested Articles


The path to become a Perfumer is long and arduous.  Unfortunately in order to learn the art well takes a great deal of reading.  A book that appeared recently by Chandler Burr for example is excellent.  It goes into great detail how the industry works fully illustrating the secrecy of the business.   However, it does not teach one how to assemble a composition otherwise known as a fragrance.  There are many parts of the pie.  The creative end is just one small piece of it. 


Good ones, on the art are almost impossible to find due to the select club of individuals who are connected to the heart. News articles cover a wide range of topics appear daily on the web site, or through their on line search engine. Prior to the advent of the internet many have been lost forever.  The enclosed list if you can find them are some of the good ones on perfumer's and the art.  


A Method of Creation & Perfumery by Jean Carles


News Articles worth reading -


A Perfumer's Training ©   - Power Point