Make-Up Artist Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a make-up artist. Get a quick view of the requirements and details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you. View article »

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  • 00:01 Essential Information
  • 0:21 Education Requirements
  • 1:51 Career Information
  • 2:03 Job Duties
  • 2:57 Job & Salary Outlook

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Video Transcript

Essential Information

Make-up artists provide a variety of beauty services and can work for both the fashion and performing arts industries. Although there are no formal education requirements to become a make-up artist, many individuals receive cosmetology training and make-up instruction.

Career Make-up Artist Skin Care Specialist Hairstylist/Cosmetologist
Education Requirements Certificate Certificate or associate's degree Certificate or associate's degree
Other Requirements N/A Licensure required Licensure required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% growth for make-up artists, theatrical and performance 40% growth 10% growth for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists
Median Salary (2015)* $53,230 for make-up artists, theatrical and performance, annually $30,090 annually $23,660 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Make-Up Artists

Other than a high school diploma, official education requirements don't exist for make-up artists. However, many professionals do complete some type of training program. Cosmetology programs are offered at many vocational colleges and can teach students a broad range of beauty knowledge.

An associate's degree program in cosmetology can include classes in make-up application, skin care, haircutting and styling, nail care, sanitation and salon management. If a make-up artist decides to also work as a cosmetologist, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that he or she must receive licensure by completing an approved cosmetology program, passing a licensing exam and seeking continuing education.

Esthetician associate's degree programs also teach students make-up skills. Those who enroll in this program can study to become general skin care professionals. Classes typically include make-up application, facial and tweezing services, skin care treatments and salon business. Most skin care professionals must also pass their state's licensing exam before beginning work, reported the BLS.

Since professional make-up artists often work in the movie, TV or theater industries, some theater production bachelor's degree programs allow students to choose a make-up concentration, where they can learn skills like basic make-up application, special effects make-up and remedial make-up. Students may also have opportunities to practice their skills during school or community productions.

Career Information

Make-up artists can find employment in the beauty, fashion and performing arts industries. These professionals can use their skills to completely change a person's appearance or simply highlight certain facial features.


Make-up artists must first consult with clients to determine their needs, which requires good communication abilities. Before applying make-up, professional make-up artists must analyze the individual's skin type and facial shape. Next, they may clean and moisturize the skin to protect it from any undesirable results, like acne, and provide a clean surface to work on. Make-up artists can also instruct clients on the proper removal of make-up and may even give customers tips on self-application.

Those working in the performing arts industry may research the time period, characters or settings of the production they are working on to ensure that the make-up complements the story. Reading the script is sometimes necessary to fully grasp the production, characters and themes. Make-up artists might also need to construct and apply prosthetic pieces for their actors or fit them with wigs to aid in the character transformation.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, theatrical and stage make-up artists earned a median annual income of $53,230 as of May 2015. The majority of the jobs were available in metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles. A 19% job growth was predicted for this occupation from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.

Cosmetology and esthetician positions were predicted to grow more quickly, with 10% growth expected for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists and 40% expansion projected for skincare specialists from 2014-2024, due to an increase in individuals seeking beauty and skin services. Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists earned a median annual income of $23,660 as of May 2015, while skin care specialists earned a median salary of $30,090 per year, reported the BLS.

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