Sometimes a person is born with an innate talent for perfumery just as one might be born with a good ear.
It is possible to become a perfumer without having been born with an exceptional nose. Then it is a question of providing the background knowledge, the materials, and the instruments. Even with the best noses, there is training required for obvious reasons. One would be to train the perfumer to create perfumes that are safe to wear on the skin. The second is to allow a person to learn the vast terminology associated with perfumery. The third is to learn how to record and measure. The fourth is to learn to blend and dilute. The fifth is to be able to name as well as recognise by smell the raw materials.
How long does it take to become a perfumer? That is like saying how long does it take to become an artist or a musician. When you are practicing then you are a perfumer but to become a master or professional perfumer takes many years of training.
The best thing you can do while training in perfumery is to experience as many smells as possible and build up your vocabulary. Take notes. Buy as many samples from good reputable suppliers as possible to know what the "real thing" smells like.
Take notes, smell, take notes, smell. Create small things.
Compose simple pieces. Explore each individual material in great depth. Explore different dilutions, explore different plant varieties, and from different countries. Travel and obtain raw materials from the source. (But always have knowledge before setting off of what the genuine article smells like. Bring a small amount with you to compare.) Bring your notebook and a small comparisons library with you everywhere.
Grow fragrant plants. Do your own extractions. Make all different kinds of extractions. Record everything.
Build up your library, learn about how to store your materials and clean your equipment. Invest in base and middle note materials. Don't spend more on top notes materials (generally speaking) than you will use in 6 months.
Practice Practice Practice.
Make something every day. Make mistakes. Practice more.
Professional Natural Perfumer Job Duties
• Evaluate the odors of naturally aromatic botanical essences.
• Set production safety standards and ensure they are adhered to.
• Source or produce ethical pure botanicals and review production data in order to ensure that they comply with standards.
• Determine the quality of prepared materials by visiting compounding and distillation areas.
• Evaluating perfume blends for specific characteristics, such as odor, body, harmony, strength, and permanence.
• Smell and evaluate trials from the previous days.
• Reject batches that do not meet criteria and record.
• Approve batches for finishing, sign off and record.
• Assign priority levels based on the type of project and meet deadlines.
• Adjust formulas of samples needing improvement based on earlier evaluations and briefings.
• Meet with clients or team evaluators; discuss which samples are ready and which need more work.