Make-Up Artist Training Programs and Requirements

Make-up artists design and apply make-up for clients, including actors, models and performing artists. Make-up artists should have cosmetology or esthetics training, with employers sometimes requiring a cosmetologist license.

Essential Information

A typical training program involves enrolling in a cosmetology program and receiving several years of experience in make-up application, cosmetology concepts and performance make-up concepts. Make-up artists are not required to be licensed or certified; however, some employers prefer to hire make-up artists with field experience or a cosmetology license.

Make-up artists should have extensive knowledge of beauty brands, skin care and color coordination. They should exhibit excellent communication and organization skills in order to provide make-up services to clients. Make-up artists who provide demonstrations in retail environments should have strong sales and presentation skills, as well as experience working with various beauty brands and types of make-up. Prerequisites to certificate programs include a high school diploma or equivalent.


Cosmetology Certificate

In a cosmetology certificate program, students learn how to design and apply various make-up concepts and techniques. In addition to esthetics and skin care, students learn how to perform manicures and pedicures, style hair and follow beauty care safety regulations. Students gain practical experience by working with models or beauty school clients. Typical courses include:

  • Cosmetology theory
  • Skin and beauty care
  • Personal and community health
  • Hairstyling
  • Esthetics, including safety and sanitation
  • Beauty care business practices

Licenses and Certifications

Although many beauty care workers, including cosmetologists and barbers, are required to be licensed, make-up artists do not need licensure to practice. Make-up artists required to perform duties such as hair styling or nail care may need a cosmetology license. Some employers that offer a broad range of beauty care services prefer to hire make-up artists with a cosmetology license.

To receive licensure, make-up artists must have a high school diploma and postsecondary beauty care training; they must also pass a comprehensive state-approved cosmetology exam. Obtaining a cosmetology license demonstrates beauty care proficiency and may lead to better employment opportunities.

Make-up artists can also seek voluntary certification from the International Make-up Association (IMA). The organization offers two certification paths for make-up artists focusing on broad make-up application or fashion and media make-up. To obtain certification, make-up artists must demonstrate make-up application proficiency with a professional portfolio, approved coursework, evidence of practical skills and satisfactory scores on two exams.

Employment Outlook Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ('bls.gov'), the employment of barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists is projected to increase by 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations. The median salary for make-up artists in the theatrical and performance industry in May 2015 was $53,230.

Continuing Education

Make-up artists can find professional development and continuing education information in Make-Up Artist Magazine, which has been the industry's leading publication since 1996. The magazine provides information on make-up workshops, conferences and training courses offered throughout the country. There is a directory of trade shows and a message board where make-up artists can exchange useful information and career advice. An online store offers make-up artistry books, videos, manuals and other resources.

In addition, beauty schools and salons typically hold make-up and esthetics workshops for students, newly hired make-up artists and the community. Workshops address topics such as performing art make-up application, proper skin care techniques, photographic make-up and make-up demonstrations. Workshops are ideal for make-up artists to learn specific skills and application techniques.

Make-up artists can pursue certification programs that cover various aspects of the craft while providing hands-on experience. Though licensure is not required for make-up artists to practice, some employers may want artists to hold a cosmetologist license attained by passing a state-approved cosmetology exam.

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