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Make-Up School and College Program Information

Specialized training for make-up artists is available through beauty schools, community colleges or vocational schools. Students can earn a certificate or an associate's degree in make-up art, aesthetics or cosmetology based on their interests and their desired career.

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Essential Information

Aspiring make-up artists can earn a certificate or associate's degree in a make-up art, aesthetics or cosmetology program offered at beauty schools, community colleges and vocational schools. A certificate in make-up art often includes more courses in dramatic or stage make-up, while a certificate in aesthetics focuses on both make-up applications and skin care techniques. A certificate in aesthetics can prepare students for licensure as estheticians. Associate's degree programs in cosmetology can prepare make-up artists to also work as hairstylists or manicurists. These two-year programs are typically longer than certificate programs and lead to professional cosmetology licensure.

Prerequisites for make-up art, aesthetics and cosmetology programs include high school diploma or its equivalent.


Certificate in Make-Up Art

Make-up art certificate programs, offered by some vocational beauty schools, teach students theatrical make-up techniques and skills. Some offer training in make-up for special effects. Graduates are qualified for careers in theater and film production.

Students learn techniques for applying make-up so that facial features show up under stage lighting. They also learn to use make-up to transform the appearance of actors and performers. The following courses may be offered through a certificate program in make-up art:

  • Prosthetics application
  • Head casting and sculpting
  • Corrective make-up
  • TV and film make-up

Certificate in Aesthetics

Certificate programs in aesthetics, or skin care, are offered by some vocational beauty schools and community colleges. Students in these programs learn the science of skin care and techniques for applying make-up for both everyday use and special occasions. Students are prepared to work as aestheticians in spas, salons or for cosmetic companies.

These programs cover a variety of skin care techniques and treatments. Students also learn about make-up products and applications. Topics of study might include the following:

  • Safety and sanitation
  • Facials and massage
  • Skin care
  • Beauty

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Aesthetician and Skin Care
  • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • Beauty Salon Management
  • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
  • Electrolysis
  • Facial Treatment Specialist
  • Hair Design
  • Make-Up Artist
  • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing

Associate's Degree in Cosmetology

Associate's degree programs in cosmetology, often offered at community colleges, provide the skills necessary to become a licensed cosmetologist in most states. Most programs offer courses in make-up application and some programs feature coursework in stage make-up.

Cosmetology programs are broader in scope than associate's degree programs and include instruction in hair and nail care, in addition to skin care and make-up application. Courses might include the following:

  • Hair styling
  • Chemical treatments
  • Manicuring
  • Salon operations

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Individuals with cosmetology degrees may experience more job opportunities than make-up artists because they are trained to work with hair and nails, in addition to make-up. The BLS predicted jobs in the cosmetologist field to grow 10% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for cosmetologists, hair dressers, and hair stylists was $23,710 in 2015, according to the BLS.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job competition may be intense in the relatively small field of make-up artistry, with few openings available for entry-level artists. The median annual salary for theatrical and performance make-up artists in 2015 was $53,230, reported the BLS.

Skin care specialists, or estheticians, earned a median annual salary of $30,090 in 2015, according to the BLS. Because of the growing popularity of skin treatments, the BLS expected employment for skin care specialists to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 12% during the decade from 2014-2024.

Licensing and Continuing Education

Cosmetologists are required to be licensed. While licensing requirements vary by state, most cosmetology graduates should be eligible to take their state licensing exams. Professional organizations, such as the National Cosmetology Association, provide information and opportunities for continuing education.

Licensing requirements for make-up artists vary by state. In some states, make-up artists who also work on hair must be licensed. Make-up artists should check with their state licensing boards for regulations. While continuing education is not an industry requirement, it can be beneficial for keeping up with the latest techniques and trends.

Skin care specialists' licensing requirements also vary by state. Some states require that aestheticians hold special licenses. Skin care specialists might consider completing full cosmetology programs to broaden their skill set and increase employment opportunities.

Students seeking a career in make-up artistry can pursue a make-up art, aesthetician or cosmetology degree from a beauty school, community college or vocational school. Based on the desired career path, students study make-up arts and skin care in a classroom with added hands-on training in beauty salons.

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