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Makeup Technician: Education Requirements and Career Information

Makeup technicians require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and salary potential to see if this is the right career for you.

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A makeup technician might work in a salon, or for a television or performance company. Job growth in any of these areas is expected to be faster than the national average from 2014-2024. A makeup technician typically attends a junior college or beauty school to gain the required education and skills to begin a career.

Essential Information

Makeup technicians, also known as makeup artists, specialize in applying makeup to enhance or change a person's facial appearance. They provide services to a range of clients, including actors, brides, models and other performing artists. Formal training from a beauty school or junior college is typically required for this career. Although makeup technicians don't usually need to earn a license, licensure is required if they perform cosmetology procedures like hairstyling or manicures in addition to applying makeup.

Required Education Formal training in makeup application
Licensure Not required for applying makeup; however, makeup technicians who are also cosmetologists will need a license in all states
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for theatrical and performance makeup artists
Median Salary (2015)* $53,230 for theatrical and performance makeup artists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Makeup Technicians

Some employers require formal makeup application training from a cosmetology or beauty school. Educational programs typically last several months to a year. Beauty schools and colleges offer full-time and part-time programs, and some may provide financial aid. Students learn to properly match foundation to skin color and apply eyeliner and mascara to create dramatic, natural or classic looks.

Although all states have educational training and licensing requirements for cosmetologists, makeup technicians who specialize solely in applying makeup are not required to be licensed. However, makeup technicians who work in a salon or who perform other cosmetology services, such as haircuts, manicures or facials, require a license.

With additional training, a makeup technician can expand their career opportunities by becoming a cosmetologist. In addition to applying makeup, this type of beauty professional provides skin, hair and nail services.

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Career Information for Makeup Technicians

Makeup technicians apply makeup to clients in beauty shops, theaters, television stations, production companies and other entertainment businesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities are best in major cities where media production companies are located, such as Los Angeles and New York City (www.bls.gov).

A makeup technician's duties depend on where they work. Those who work in salons and spas may be required to stock inventory, arrange displays and actively promote make-up services. These technicians may also be responsible for maintaining a clean station and service counter. All makeup technician need strong communication and interpersonal skills, along with customer service skills, to develop a customer base.

Makeup technician's use their arms, hands and fingers to apply makeup and often they must stand for long periods. In addition, makeup techs sometimes work under varying working conditions, including working in salons with fumes and odors from hair and nail applications.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, job openings for theatrical and performance makeup artists should expand by 19% from 2014-2024, while employment for cosmetologists, hairdressers and hairstylists is predicted to grow by 10%. In 2015, the BLS reported that theatrical and performance makeup artists earned an annual median wage of $53,230 and cosmetologists, hairdressers and hairstylists earned a median of $23,660.

In summary, completing a program at a junior or technical college will qualify you to practice as a makeup technician in a beauty salon or within the performance industry. Depending on the type of work, a license may be necessary. Salaries are also variable based on the work environment, but regardless, growth in the industry should be strong in the coming decade.

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