How to Become a Makeup Artist

There are few jobs in the world that sound as fun and exciting as becoming a makeup artist. You’ll get to keep up with the latest make up trends and depending on the career path you choose you could be helping individual’s look and feel their best on important dates or even making celebrities look their best for television or film. What could be more exciting than that?

As an added bonus there is very little actual schooling required and how far you go will depend greatly on your own determination and ingenuity.

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Makeup Artist Schools

What is a Makeup Artist?

It is typical to want to know all that you can about a profession before deciding to pursue it, and becoming a makeup artist should be no different. As already mentioned you might find yourself working in a variety of areas including the entertainment world or personal beauty service. If you want to seek a more formal training which will broaden your work prospects you can enroll in a cosmetology program. Depending on the type of work you’re after you may also want to consider enrolling in a theater degree program. Here you will have courses that are geared towards theater work and will include studies such as state makeup. If you want to also be a cosmetology then you must become licensed.

If you do decide to pursue makeup artistry in theater then you can expect to make around $66,000 yearly. Not too shabby for a newcomer. Wages will of course also be affected by the company you’re hired by, the type of work you will be doing, and your current level of expertise. Those that do not pursue a degree will usually find themselves making a bit less depending on where you end of working and the type of work you are doing.

How do I become a Makeup Artist?

Statistically the majority of makeup artists complete formal training. Formal training can be found through a program or through the pursuit of a college degree. Most programs will require that you at least have a high school diploma or GED before you will be admitted. If you are in the United States you must at least complete a cosmetology license for the state you plan on working in. The requirements for the license will vary some depending on the state and if you begin work in one state and then move to another later you may find that you have to complete a few more courses and a new exam.

What is a Cosmetology Program?

If you choose to go the cosmetology route you can expect to receive the professional training necessary to become proficient in the field and to pass the cosmetology exam. Cosmetology can be offered as a training program through an institute or as an associate’s degree through a local community college. Cosmetology itself is the broad study of beauty services including makeup, hair services including cutting and styling, skin care, and nail care. You will also learn specific state regulations regarding proper sanitary conditions, bacteriology, and helpful business skills. If you want something more keenly geared towards your particular interest you should look into attending a privately owned beauty school as they will usually offer area specific options.

What is a Theater Degree?

Working in theater can almost be viewed as a completely different profession. While you may still be applying makeup, how it is done for theater is very different and will change depending on the production you are working on. If you want to work for film or theater you will need to go to school to acquire your bachelor’s degree in theater. The program itself will include makeup in the curriculum and you may be able to choose makeup as a concentration. Either way you should use your available extra courses to further your interest and training by selecting options that are pertinent to your field. Most students can expect to have courses in makeup application, special effects such as wounds and aging, and corrective makeup. You will also be able to work on school productions so that you get hands on experience.

Makeup Artist – Job Description

Like many jobs, the first duty of a makeup artist is to discuss the needs and desires of the client. Once you know what they’re looking for you’ll be able to come up with a cohesive plan to achieve it. You might also get to do the application of makeup for a number of individuals in entertainment including but not limited to models and actors. Alternately you may work with a team of other makeup artists to create the necessary look. In some rarer cases you may even have the chance to teach the individual how to apply at least some of the makeup themselves.

What are the usual duties?

Some of the regular duties can include analyzing the skin to determine the type. This could mean, oily, dry, neutral, or a number of other things. Once you know the face type you can look at the individuals facial curves and shape to distinguish the best way to apply the makeup. Having all of that figured out you can then begin to prepare the skin for the makeup you will be applying. In most cases this will include cleaning and moisturizing as a means of preventing negative reactions. Then you will begin to apply the actual makeup. The main tools will be the cosmetic items you are already familiar with including powders, creams, glosses, and lipsticks.

When working with actors you may be asked to do special make up that will transform or alter the actor in some way. There are an endless number of ways this can be done but some of the most common include aging, changing race, fake wounds or other special effects. You could also end up working with items such as wigs, false eyelashes, and various prosthetics. It may also be necessary to research distinct time periods and settings to be able to create the most accurate representation for the film or theater piece as possible.

How is the overall career outlook?

While this career path hasn’t grown in leaps and bounds lately, it has been steadily increasing which is always a good thing. Theater and performance related makeup artist job availability is only expected to grow 3% by 2022. That’s not wildly optimistic but at least it isn’t a decline. On the other hand cosmetologists, hairdressers, and other hairstylists are expecting a 13% increase. While this could potentially influence your career path you might want to keep in mind that theater makeup artists make more yearly vs. cosmetologists even though you are more likely to find work as a cosmetologist. It’s a tough decision that must be considered thoroughly.

Salary Information:

The average salary for someone that completed a bachelors in theater is around $66,000 yearly whereas cosmetologists are earning around $27,000. This is a big difference but shouldn’t be the final determining factor in the path you choose. Remember that in the end you want to be doing the work you enjoy most. If you love theater that could be the better path even though it will require 2 or 3 additional years of school, which also means having to pay for school longer or taking on heftier loans. If you go the cosmetology route you could be out and working within a year even though it would be making less. In the end you will have to decide which area you are most passionate about and follow that instinct.

Additionally, you will want to consider that with more experience comes better pay. Some of the highest earners working with models and film actually make more than $120,000 a year but getting to that point can be difficult. To better get your foot in the door and to get your name out to those that may like your work you might want to consider working a mentorship.

The majority of mentorships are unpaid just as with regular internships but the connections, skills learned, and on-hand experience is priceless and will pay off in the end even if you must do it for free. Just remember that all the experience and connections will create a stepping point above where you would have begun otherwise so you can begin by asking for higher wages than those just coming out of school but have not done a mentorship. The work you put into the mentorship will be recognized and will more than make up for the wages you missed out on.

The beauty industry can be a perfect option for those that want to stay up to date on the latest trends or want a way to work with some of their favorite celebrities. You’ll have the pride of knowing you helped to create iconic looks that will last for years on the screen. If you don’t work with entertainment professionals then you’ll get the warm feeling of helping the regular public look their best. Whichever route you choose you are bound to find it rewarding in ways you never expected.

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