How to Become a Makeup Artist

Thinking about enrolling in makeup school?

If you are considering enrolling in makeup artist training, you are probably curious about how much the program costs, how long it will take to complete, what you will learn in the program, and more. Beauty Schools Directory has answered many of the most common questions about the education that helps you become a licensed makeup artist (MUA), so you can decide whether taking the next step in your career is the right decision for you. If you think training to become a makeup artist sounds like the right fit for you, just enter your zip code in the box to the right. Choose "Make-Up Artist Training" as your program to find schools near you that offer this program.

Jump to Your Question:

I know how to put on makeup. Why do I need makeup artist training?

Fashion Show Runway Makeup Artist

Many people think that transitioning from a makeup enthusiast into a professional makeup artist is an easy feat. However, as those in the makeup industry will be quick to tell you, a formal education from an academy of makeup can make the difference between a hobby and a real profession. Quality makeup training from a makeup artist school is not only important but essential if you plan on making a career of this interest. Makeup artist schools provide students with a more extensive variety of skills that are difficult to master at a higher professional level on one's own. As your education progresses, you will most likely zero in on a particular area of professional makeup application, and can build up your portfolio for eventual placement in this field.

Also, it is very different to choose and apply makeup on your own face compared to selecting a color palette, the right products and applying makeup on your clients. Proper training can make a huge difference. All that said, some states do not require official certifications or licenses to perform makeup services professionally. However, classes are likely still available to become an expert at your profession and set yourself apart from your competitors. Clients expect nothing but the best from their MUAs, so make sure you get the education and training to back up your skills.

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Does each makeup school teach the same curriculum?

If your state licenses makeup artists, there may be a standard curriculum of courses and skills that your school is expected to cover. These may include core classes like safety and sanitation, business ethics and marketing yourself, or makeup-specific classes like color theory, product selection, application techniques, and so on. However, if your state does not have certifications or licenses for this profession, you may find a wider range of course options and a less structured curriculum that dive deeper into specialized areas of makeup. Also, some states require makeup artists to be licensed under the Cosmetology or Esthetics licenses, which have a slightly longer curriculum and include a variety of other related skills and classes.

If you're trying to decide which makeup artist school in the U.S. is the best for you, ask yourself these questions: What about being a makeup artist interests you most? What setting would you like to work in? Are you passionate about a particular type of makeup, such as wedding, theater, broadcast or special effects makeup? Be sure to ask your different school options about what programs they offer in their curriculum to see whether any of the schools offer the particular classes you want, or if it’s something you learn on your own after learning the foundation and basics at school.

What makeup classes can I expect to take?

The classes you can expect to take at beauty, cosmetology or makeup school to become a makeup artist may vary based on your state’s licensing requirements, and whether your school is a general practice or specialty school. Below is a list of possible classes you may see on your makeup school curriculum:

  • Safety, Sanitation, Skincare and Hygiene
  • Principles of Makeup for Beauty & Fashion
  • Professional Challenges in Makeup Artistry
  • Learning the Makeup Artist Tool-Kit & Brushes
  • Color Theory and Light/Dark Illusions
  • Assessing Client Face Shapes, Skin Types & Eye/Hair Color
  • Contouring and Highlighting
  • Makeup Blending Techniques
  • Corrective Makeup Techniques
  • Application & Techniques of Foundations, Concealers & Primers
  • Application & Techniques of Eyeshadow, Eyeliner & False Lashes
  • Application & Techniques of Eyebrow Shaping & Coloring
  • Application & Techniques of Lip Lining & Lip Color
  • Application & Techniques of Blush & Rouge
  • Bridal & Wedding Party Makeup Application
  • Makeup for Broadcast & Photography Lighting
  • Theater and Stage Makeup
  • Special Effects & Film Makeup
  • Designing Vintage, Modern & Avant Garde Makeup Looks
  • Designing Natural, Day & Evening Makeup Looks
  • Ethnic, Mature & Men’s Makeup Application
  • Makeup Station Setup & Etiquette

This is by no means an exhaustive list of potential classes you may take if you enroll in school for this program. Most prospective students compare 3 to 5 schools, so be sure to compare your options and ask each school about their curriculum of courses to find the one that best meets your needs.

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Are there advanced or master level makeup courses?

Definitely! Even if your state does not require continuing education to renew your certification, Beauty Schools Directory always recommends taking continuing education hours throughout your career to stay current in the industry and up-to-date on the latest cosmetics products and application techniques. Often these continuing education hours come in the form of single-day or weekend workshops, special seminars or conference-based trainings.

Many makeup artists get their foundational training at a standard makeup school, and then as their careers grow and evolve, they seek out advanced or master-level makeup classes to heighten their skills and abilities in the field. This is often the time when MUAs decide to choose a specialty area, and pursue as much additional training in that field as possible.

What are career options for professional makeup artists, and what is the job outlook?

Theatre & Stage Makeup ArtistThere are a number different potential job options for people who pursue education in the cosmetic arts. Many choose to work at salons and spas, especially those who may be licensed as cosmetologists and estheticians. Some choose to do makeup looks and sell cosmetics in department stores and other retail sites. Bridal and wedding party, graduation or family photo shoot makeup is a popular choice for many makeup artists as well. Many makeup artists choose to mobilize their careers and freelance on-site wherever they may be needed. Other fields that hire makeup artists include news and broadcast, stage and theater, film and television, festivals and events, and more.

Check out our makeup artist job description for more information about the career options and job demand outlook for this career path.

What salaries do makeup artists typically earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that makeup artists who work in theatrics earn an annual mean wage of $60,830 as of 2015. We get so many questions about this topic that we created a whole section on our makeup artist job description page! Visit our makeup artist salary section on that page to learn more. 

How much does makeup school cost?

The cost of tuition for makeup schools can range depending on the courses in the curriculum, hours of instruction required by your state, as well as location, facilities, and equipment required to purchase for your program. Because of the cost of business facilities, cosmetics artist training programs inside or close to major metropolitan cities like Los Angeles or Chicago will likely cost a little more, whereas smaller, more rural areas or suburbs that may be accessible with a bit of a commute may be cheaper – however makeup artist training schools may be harder to come by in smaller cities or non-coastal areas.

For each makeup school you're interested in, be sure to ask admissions reps what their tuition costs are and what exactly this costs includes – such as textbooks, makeup kits and brushes, cosmetic products, and so on.

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