The Education Required to Pursue Becoming a Makeup Artist

The Education Required to Pursue Becoming a Makeup Artist

by Forest Time

An aspiring makeup artist needs a basic knowledge of cosmetology techniques.

Makeup artists generally find employment with theater and production companies, television stations or movie studios. To be successful in this occupation, you will need to be a skilled and licensed cosmetologist. Basic knowledge of the dramatic arts, film technique, stagecraft, and anatomy and physiology can increase your skill set as a makeup artist and can be obtained in high school or on the job. You can enroll in few types of post-secondary programs to obtain the education required of a makeup artist.

Cosmetology Program

General cosmetology programs are commonly available throughout the United States and are an excellent preparation for a career as a makeup artist. General cosmetology programs give students the aesthetic skills to manipulate makeup based on a subject’s skin tone and appearance and also teach students other basic salon skills such as hairstyling, haircutting, manicure, pedicure and facial treatments. One advantage of a basic cosmetology degree is that it will allow you to find work in a salon or barber shop while you pursue a job in the visual arts.

Permanent Cosmetology

Some makeup artists combine knowledge of basic cosmetology skills with knowledge of permanent cosmetic techniques. According to the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, permanent cosmetology skills are most commonly obtained by taking a workshop or by attending sessions with an SPCP-approved trainer. Permanent cosmetology skills are also applicable to a wide variety of occupations other than the visual arts, including tattoo artistry and medicine. A list of approved trainers is available on the SPCP website at

Makeup Artist

Some courses of study prepare you specifically for work as a makeup artist. While you’ll gain experience and training in basic cosmetology techniques, you’ll concentrate on specialty techniques applicable to the visual arts, such as synthetic mask-making, wig application and period hairstyling. You’ll also gain training in other aspects of working in theater, such as safety on set and typical relations between cast and crew. Training specifically as a makeup artist might give you an advantage over other job candidates.


To work in a field related to cosmetology, including within the visual arts, most states require that you be licensed and that you keep your license current. Although specific requirements vary by state, most require that you graduate from an accredited school of cosmetology and pass an examination before you can be licensed. Some also require that you be of a certain age before you can be licensed. For full regulations and requirements, contact the office responsible for professional and occupational regulation for the state in which you plan to practice.

How to Become a Makeup Artist

How to Become a Makeup Artist

makeup artistMakeup artists apply cosmetics for their clients, who may be models, actors and actresses, television reporters and personalities, or individuals who want a special look for an occasion like a wedding. Makeup artists must know how to communicate with their clients to determine what kind of look they want, and they must have the skincare and cosmetics knowledge plus the physical and artistic skill required to create that look.

Makeup artists may work independently, or they may be employed in the motion picture industry, in television, by photographers, or by salons and spas.

What kind of training is required to become a makeup artist?

Many makeup artists complete a training program offered by a makeup artist school. Students in these programs learn about different types of cosmetics and cosmetics tools. They also study facial features and how to emphasize or de-emphasize them with makeup. Makeup artist programs also introduce students to the various kinds of looks they can create with cosmetics, including daytime, evening, and special event looks.

Makeup artists who want to create looks for photography, the stage, television, and movies can take courses in the different techniques and products used in each field. Students may learn how to design looks that will hold up to the scrutiny of a high definition camera, while others may study the use of prosthetics to create special effects for film or theatre.

Are there any certification or licensure requirements?

Makeup artists may be required to obtain a makeup artist or cosmetology license to provide services to clients in their state. The practice of cosmetology includes hair styling and other services, so earning a cosmetology license typically requires the completion of more than just a makeup artist program. A state-approved cosmetology program can take a year or more to complete. Cosmetologists may also be required to complete a certain number of training hours and pass a licensing exam.

How long does it take to become a makeup artist?

Makeup artist training programs vary in length. One course may take several weeks to complete, and a whole program can take several months. If your state requires you to obtain a full cosmetologist license, it could take a year or more to complete the required training program.

What does a makeup artist earn?

The wage a makeup artist earns can depend on his or her experience and place of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for makeup artists in entertainment and performance was $32.49 in 2012, and the median hourly wage was $30.99.

Makeup artists who worked in the motion picture and video industry made the highest average wage, at $40.04. Those who worked in personal care services earned the least: $14.35. These figures did not take into account makeup artists who work independently.

What are the job prospects?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of makeup artists will increase at a slower rate of growth than most other occupations in the United States. Jobs will be available, but competition will be strong. Makeup artists may have the best chances of employment if they seek work in certain states with good job markets for the profession, including California and New York.

What are the long term career prospects for makeup artists?

As makeup artists gain experience and training, they can build a body of work that will allow them to charge higher rates for their services and give them better chances of landing higher-profile work in the fashion and entertainment industries if that is their goal.

How can I find a job as a makeup artist?

Like with any other profession, finding a job as a makeup artist depends on one’s experience and connections. Makeup artists put together a portfolio of professional photos of the work they’ve done in school and for past clients. An impressive portfolio and positive referrals from clients can help you start and expand your business if you’re working as a freelance makeup artist.

Some makeup artists build experience by starting out in retail, working at the makeup counter of a drug or department store. Others may start by providing services for community theatre groups.

How can I learn more about becoming a makeup artist?

Many professional makeup artists have blogs and you can learn more about technique, current trends, and the profession by following some of them. You can also check with your state’s licensing board to determine the specific requirements for becoming a makeup artist in your state.