How to Become a Makeup Artist

March 1, 2021

There are a few different ways to become a Makeup Artist, but all of them have one common factor: Passion and Perseverance!

How to Become a Makeup Artist
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Makeup Artistry can be such a rewarding profession both creatively and financially. The beauty sector is continuously growing as an industry and has gained huge popularity as a profession, whether you are a complete beginner or career changer.

There are a few different ways to become a Makeup Artist, but all of them have one common factor: Passion and Perseverance! No matter which route you choose, you will have to demonstrate your drive to succeed in order to make this happen for you.

Let’s take a closer look at the 3 training routes you could take:

1. Private Courses (from 2 weeks to 3 months)

How long are these courses? 

There are a range of private courses offered for beginners. Intensive beginner courses  should enable you to gain an accredited qualification and apply makeup flawlessly and competently in a professional setting. These courses can vary from 2-12 weeks long depending on the level of expertise you wish to receive.

How much are private Makeup courses?

With a private course, you are investing money into the highest standard of training. You will likely have more skilled trainers, and smaller class sizes resulting in more individual support. This is what your tuition goes towards. Yes, the cost of private courses is higher than further education colleges, but a £2,000-£4,000 training cost can typically be made back in 2 to 3 months’ work as a Makeup Artist. You get what you pay for.

Not all private academies are alike, so you must be selective with your choice! Focus on schools dedicated to helping equip you with the skills you wish to qualify in. Make sure your trainers are pro artists by trade, and not just qualified beauticians. Find a professional institution with structure and good management — you can quickly see this by visiting their website and enquiring. Make sure that you spend your time learning how to apply makeup, and not writing essays or on the streets trying to find models, as some schools make you do.

KLMA Makeup Academy is able to train at a superior standard to colleges for several reasons, such as:

  • Our classes are 6 to 10 students each. Colleges have over 20 students in each class, which means less 1-on-1 support from teachers.
  • Our trainers are superb. We hire pro artists with over 10 years experience to help you learn the tricks of the trade.
  • We are Makeup specific. Colleges run many other courses, spread resources thin, and don’t have the same expertise. Our Makeup courses specialize in just that, which means that we’re focused only on your training and results.
  • Our training is intense and thorough meaning you can shave off time learning without compromising your education and get started making a living from your new career.


  • Smaller class sizes, which means more 1-to-1 support
  • Can be completed in a few months
  • Highly skilled educators who are solely Makeup focused
  • Work with better quality products
  • Learn industry specific techniques and explore multiple brand options which is not taught at college


  • More expensive than college

Bottom-line: Private training is the best option to getting the skills you need to work as a Pro MUA.

2. Apprenticeship (2 to 3 years)

How long is an apprenticeship in?

An apprenticeship in Makeup Artistry and beauty takes about 2 to 3 years to complete, and it is typically for people aged 16-18 years old. To enrol in an apprenticeship, you’ll need to find a salon that is willing to take on an apprentice as well as find a college that trains you once per week in order to get an NVQ or VTCT.

What does a Makeup apprentice do?

You likely will spend your first 6 to 12 months washing brushes, cleaning work surfaces, sweeping floors, answering phones, and helping around the salon. You’ll also get to see other Makeup Artists and Beauty professionals at work and their typical day to day. Your actual training to start treatments will take place once a week at a local college over 2 or more years. At the shop, you will start applying makeup for clients at earliest in 6 months, but sometimes it could be slower.


  • You do not have to pay for it
  • You gain an NVQ/VTCT qualification


  • It takes a long time to complete
  • You only train once in the week, which can slow down your learning process
  • You will only be doing 1-2 clients a week
  • A lot of time will be spent helping out in the shop before actually beginning to do treatments
  • You may have to source your own models

Bottom-line: An apprenticeship offers only a limited amount of Makeup Artistry but it allows you to get a feel of how a salon works. There is no monetary cost for an apprenticeship, only your time and opportunity cost.

3. Further Education College (1 to 2 years)

How long does a Makeup course take at college? 

  • A further education college offers a wide array of courses, one of which may be a Fashion, theatrical and media hair and makeup course. These courses last 1 to 2 years.

How much is a Makeup course at college?

These courses are generally free.


  • Costs less than private training
  • Training times are more flexible
  • You gain an NVQ qualification


  • Limited makeup experience
  • Class sizes are large at 20 or more students, which means that you don’t get much 1-on-1 training.
  • Students practice primarily on head blocks, and they only do about 1 or 2 practical sessions per week, often spend most of their time looking for models. This makes it tough to build a rhythm and develop your skill.
  • Colleges tend to be more theory-based with training and stick to book learning. However, makeup artistry is a hands-on profession and requires lots of practical experience.
  • There is often inconsistency in the teaching over the 2-year period, with teachers sometimes leaving midway. College classes are typically taught by tutors with limited real-life experience.

Bottom-line: You could graduate with limited experience and without the skills needed to work as a pro MUA.

4. Graduates & degrees

How long does a Makeup course take at university take? 

You can study for two-year foundation degrees and three-year BA is the following subjects:

  • Fashion, theatrical and media hair and makeup
  • Hair, make-up and prosthetics for performance
  • Media make-up and character design
  • Media make-up and special effects.

How much is a Makeup course at university?

£9,250-13,800 per year for 3 years


  • Training times can be more flexible
  • You gain a foundation or BA degree


  • Expensive
  • You will be required to purchase a mandatory kit and other items for specific modules
  • Class sizes are large at 20 or more students, which means that you don’t get much 1-on-1 training.

Bottom-line: It’s a big cost outlay just to say you have a “Degree”

If you are looking to become a Pro MUA, or know someone who may make a good Makeup Artist, then click below to see what it takes

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