Become a Certified Make-Up Artist: Certification and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a certified make-up artist. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in cosmetology. View article »

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  • 0:02 Make-Up Artist Career Info
  • 0:55 Complete Formal Training
  • 1:52 Become Licensed
  • 2:13 Gain Experience
  • 3:10 Keep up on Trends

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Video Transcript

Make-Up Artist Career Info

Make-up artists apply make-up to performers and other clients. They can be found in the entertainment industry, beauty salons, and many other areas that require professionals with advanced cosmetic skills. These professionals spend many hours standing to perform their duties. Tact and empathy may be needed when dealing with clients who might have unrealistic expectations of make-up's potential results.

Make-up artists should also have strong customer service skills, listening skills, time management skills, and expertise with beauty techniques. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cosmetologists in general earned a median annual salary of $23,710 in 2015, while theatrical and performance make-up artists earned a median annual salary of $53,230.

Complete Formal Training

Formal cosmetology education is typically required for state licensure, and several training options are available to aspiring make-up artists. Some technical schools and community colleges offer certificate programs specifically focused on make-up artistry. A high school diploma or a GED is often required for admission into one of these programs. Coursework may include bridal make-up, character creation, and make-up techniques for the fashion industry.

Students may also choose to earn an associate's degree in cosmetology, which covers a broader selection of beauty topics. These programs allow students to build a solid foundation in the theoretical concepts of cosmetology. Students also gain valuable practical experience by putting their knowledge to use in real-world settings. Associate's degree programs in cosmetology typically offer training in make-up artistry as well as a variety of related topics, such as hairstyling, hair coloring, and skincare.

Become Licensed

All cosmetologists are required to possess licensure. State licensing requirements vary, but often include graduating from an approved cosmetology program and passing a skills-assessment examination. Aspiring make-up artists should consult their state's specific licensure requirements when planning their careers.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Aesthetician and Skin Care
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  • Make-Up Artist
  • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing

Gain Experience

Many employers require some level of experience in make-up artistry for employment. Some educational programs may offer internship opportunities working in local salons or spas. Aspiring make-up artists may also seek work as assistants or behind a make-up counter in a department store, assisting customers with their selections.

Some professional organizations offer make-up artists networking and career opportunities. The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) offers opportunities for members pursuing careers in make-up artistry to connect with employers and other professionals in the field. Networking could facilitate important connections for make-up artists looking to advance in their careers.

For make-up artists working in spas or salons, keeping a tidy workspace is essential. A sanitary workstation not only helps avoid any health risks, but also makes clients feel comfortable and more likely to return or recommend services to others.

Keep Up on Trends

Depending on the state in which the make-up artist practices, periodic license renewal may be required. It's equally important for make-up artists to stay informed of new advances and trends in the market to provide the best services to clients. They may do so by reading industry publications or joining professional groups.


An aspiring make-up artist needs to complete the educational and training requirements needed to gain licensure in his/her state. Networking and staying on top of trends will help these individuals stay ahead in their careers.

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