December 9, 2020

Makeup Artist Certification and License Guide

Makeup artist certification

Anything that changes a face or body requires a Makeup Artist.  

Are you a makeup junkie? Are you passionate about helping others be their best selves? Do you love the idea of working behind the scenes to create the next supervillain or fantasy character? If this is you, nothing is as rewarding as turning that passion into your livelihood. And, with the proper education and experience it can be lucrative. Makeup According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – in 2020, Makeup artists earned a median annual salary of $48.07 an hour or $99,990 annually. 

A professional MUA specializes in the application of makeup. They use makeup, cosmetics, paint, prosthetics, wigs, and other accessories to alter their clients’ physical appearances. There are many things you can do as an MUA, including working in film, television, photography, print, fashion, music videos, freelance, mortuaries, or in a cosmetic retail environment. In certain states, you may want to consider joining a union. You may need to gain practical work experience or graduate from a makeup artistry school to become a union member. 

So how do I get started? Two important considerations when pursuing a career as a professional makeup artist or special makeup effects artist are: 1) what are the state requirements, and 2) what skills, schooling, and certification are employers looking for?

Do you have to be licensed to be a Makeup Artist? 

There is no such thing as a Makeup Artist License (**for more info see Licensing by State below). 

  • Nevada and Texas are two states that MUA’s can work anywhere in the state, even in Salons without a Cosmetology or Esthetics license. Due to the efforts of L Makeup Institute’s founder Lissette Waugh, Nevada allows MUA’s to register with the State Board of Cosmetology as an MUA.
  • In almost every state, MUAs are exempt from cosmetology and esthetics licensing, and makeup artists are allowed to work in film, television, photography, print, fashion, music videos, freelance, mortuaries, or in a cosmetic retail environment without a license or having passed a state exam.
  • Nebraska allows you to register as a cosmetician and, Louisiana allows MUA’s to obtain an MUA permit.
  • Two states, Nebraska, and Louisiana, allow for MUA’s to register or obtain a permit.

What Is the Difference Between Certification and Licensure?

When it comes to makeup artistry, “certification” and “licensure” do not refer to the same professional credentials. Essentially, licensure is legally mandatory, while makeup artistry certification is voluntary. Makeup Artists receive certification by successfully graduating from a makeup artistry program. Because of this, your success as a Makeup Artist or Special Effects Artist is based on the quality of the education you receive. A great place to start is by attending a Makeup School that specializes in makeup artistry education and offers advanced courses such as special effects makeup, airbrushing and body painting, or advanced prosthetics. These types of classes take your skills beyond basic beauty makeup and make you more desirable, versatile, and well-rounded artist.

Like with all Cosmetology related industries, to work as a professional makeup artist (MUA), takes drive, determination and the proper education. The diploma you receive shows potential employers the type and level of training and certification you have completed. Employers in the beauty field look at potential new hires graduating with a diploma from an accredited makeup artistry or special effects program the same way other professions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

When pursuing an MUA career, always do your research. Check into the requirements of the state you live in or intend to work in. Be open to studying out-of-state and bringing those skills and competitive advantage back to your home state. And, contact a professional makeup artistry school to discuss the programs offered align with your career goals.

Licensing by State

The trend is deregulation where more and more states are recognizing Makeup Artistry as sperate and distinct from Cosmetology. This is creating more opportunities for Makeup Artists by removing cosmetology requirements. *It is important to always check the appropriate state regulatory agency for the latest information and/or contact any top makeup artistry school who can help you navigate through the process.

Alabama

The state of Alabama requires a single license that covers both estheticians and cosmetologists to work in the state. Makeup Artists DO NOT need a license to work in the theatre, television, film, or radio industry, or as a makeup artist in a retail environment (e.g. working at a makeup counter, working with a direct sales company, etc.)

Alaska

Alaska no longer offers a cosmetology license, but instead offers separate licenses for estheticians and hairdressers; MUAs working in retail, performing a demonstration of makeup products/technique are exempt from the licensing requirement, while those working for limited purposes (as in an entertainment industry production) may need a temporary permit, but do not have to obtain a license.

Arizona

Arizona licenses cosmetologists and aestheticians. MUAs do not need a license to work professionally in Arizona if they do not provide any other cosmetology/aesthetic services, or if they are performing limited demonstrations as in a retail environment.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health licenses and regulates cosmetologists and salons, but does not require licenses for any other MUA professionals.

California

California provides a single licensing application for cosmetologists and estheticians, along with other beauty professionals. You do not need a license to work as a freelance MUA, production of film, television, or musical entertainment, or to apply makeup when recommending or selling cosmetic products (either in a store or as a freelancer).

Colorado

Colorado requires licensing for cosmetologists and estheticians; MUAs do not need a license to work in the state.

Connecticut

The state provides a single license for professionals called “cosmeticians” in Connecticut (combining cosmetologists and estheticians into a single classification). MUAs providing a product demonstration, or providing limited services on a temporary basis not serving the general public do not need to obtain a license or temporary permit.

Delaware

While you do not need a license to work as a freelancer, in retail, or in visual arts, you do need one if you plan to work in a salon as a cosmetologist or esthetician.

District of Columbia

There is no licensing requirement for MUAs except when working in a salon you must be licensed as a cosmetologist or esthetician.

Florida

In the state of Florida, under the newly passed “Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act”, a license is not required by makeup artists.

Georgia

You must obtain either an Esthetician or Cosmetology license to work in a salon in the state of Georgia; each profession carries slightly different education and training requirements. MUAs working in the production of film, television, or musical entertainment are exempt from these licensing requirements.

Hawaii

There is no licensing requirement for MUAs except when working in a salon you must be licensed as a cosmetologist or esthetician.

Idaho

You need to obtain either an Esthetician or Cosmetology license in the state of Idaho to work in the state; while there is no licensing requirement for MUAs, there are requirements for certification of MUAs in Idaho.

Illinois

Illinois has definitions for both esthetician and cosmetology and requires a license in order to work in a salon. MUAs employed by the motion picture, film, television, stage play, or related industry are exempt from state licensing requirements.

Indiana

There is no licensing requirement for MUAs except when working in a salon you must be licensed as a cosmetologist or esthetician.

Iowa

You do not need a license to become a makeup artist in Iowa if: You’re working as a makeup artist in a retail environment, working with a direct sales company, etc.

Kansas

To practice as a makeup artist, you do not need a license.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky does require that makeup artists in the state be licensed in order to practice. Individuals must attend an accredited institution for a minimum of 233 days of instruction.

Louisiana

There is no licensing requirement for MUAs, but Louisiana allows MUA’s to obtain an MUA permit.

Maine

You are required to be licensed to practice as a makeup artist in Maine. To obtain the license, you must have at least 140 hours of training at an accredited school or program.

Maryland

There are no licensing requirements for MUAs. However, many spas, salons, and clients will want to see evidence that you have attended an accredited program where you have been trained in all aspects of the craft.

Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have licensure requirements for MUAs.

Michigan

There are no licensing requirements for MUAs.

Minnesota

You must obtain a cosmetology license to work in a salon or provide esthetic services in Minnesota. You are not required to have a license to work as an MUA, but you must undergo at least four hours of “health, safety, and infection-control” training.

Mississippi

No license is required to work professionally as a Makeup Artist. You must obtain either an Esthetician or Cosmetologist license to work in a salon in Mississippi

Missouri

You will need a Cosmetology license to work in a salon, but there is no licensing requirement for freelance work as an MUA.

Montana

The Montana Board of Barbering and Cosmetology requires that all would-be makeup artists in the state complete 650 hours of approved training in a licensed school of esthetics or of cosmetology, but Montana does not require a license for an MUA working in film, TV, or the visual arts.

Nebraska

To apply makeup professionally in Nebraska, you must become licensed as a cosmetician. There are no specific training hour requirements. You must simply provide proof that you have been trained in the chemical properties of the cosmetics you’ll be applying and that you understand how to apply cosmetics appropriately.

Nevada

Nevada is the only state that currently licenses MUAs separately from cosmetologists or estheticians. MUA applicants must pay a $25 fee to either transfer out-of-state credentials, or sit an examination in order to earn the state MUA license. All three types of MUA are licensed to work in salons.

New Hampshire

The state of New Hampshire requires either an esthetician or cosmetologist license for those working in a salon; MUAs do not need a license to sell or apply makeup, or to work in retail.

New Jersey

You do not need a license to work in the production of film, television, or musical entertainment, or to apply makeup when recommending or selling cosmetic products (either in a store or as a freelancer).

New Mexico

You are required to obtain an esthetician license to work in a salon.

New York

You are required to obtain an esthetician license to work in a salon in the state of New York; MUAs working in entertainment or other freelance and retail environments do not have any licensing requirement.

North Carolina

The state of North Carolina requires all persons who apply makeup professionally to obtain an esthetician license.

North Dakota

You will need either an esthetician or cosmetologist license to work in a salon; MUAs do not need to obtain a license to apply makeup professionally.

Ohio

You are required to obtain either an esthetician or cosmetologist license to work in a salon; there are no additional requirements for MUAs.

Oklahoma

According to the Oklahoma licensing requirements* for cosmetologists, a license is not required for makeup artistry. https://www.ok.gov/cosmo/Licensing_&_Fee_Information/index.html

Oregon

You need to secure an esthetician license to work in a salon; however, freelance MUAs and those working in film or entertainment, or in retail environments do not need a license to apply temporary makeup.

Pennsylvania

You are required to have a cosmetologist license when applying makeup for pay in any capacity in Pennsylvania; unlike most states, there does is no clear exemption made for MUAs working in film, television, or entertainment.

Rhode Island

You will need either an esthetician or cosmetologist license to work in a salon or apply makeup.

South Carolina

You are required to maintain an active Esthetician or Cosmetologist license to work in a salon; retail workers and MUAs engaged in temporary educational or exhibition activities are exempt from the licensing requirement.

South Dakota

Even though you do not need an official makeup license in South Dakota, you should consider the benefits of finding a makeup artist program that will give you a complete set of professional skills.

Tennessee

MUAs working in a freelance capacity or in entertainment and performance contexts are exempt from licensing requirements.

Texas

In the state of Texas, practicing makeup artists are not required to be licensed, as stated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. You can work in salons without a cosmetologist license.

Utah

You need an esthetician license to work in a salon; otherwise, you do not need a license to work as an MUA in Utah.

Vermont

MUA’s are required to have either an esthetician or cosmetologist license unless working in an entertainment or performance industry.

Virginia

You must have an esthetician license to work in a salon; however, MUAs who only apply makeup but provide no ancillary cosmetology services are not required to be licensed.

Washington

You do not need to have a license to work as an MUA in the state of Washington. In the state of Washington, makeup application is not defined under the term “Cosmetology” nor “Esthetics” (Chapter 18, Section18.16.020, (29) and (30))*, therefore, the act of makeup artistry is not regulated by the Washington Licensing Department.

West Virginia

You are required to hold either an esthetician or cosmetologist license to apply makeup professionally in West Virginia.

Wisconsin

You will need either an aesthetician or cosmetologist license to work in a salon; MUAs do not need a license when providing makeup services in retail or when working in the entertainment and performance industries.

Wyoming

The state of Wyoming requires MUAs to hold either an esthetician or cosmetologist license, including work in temporary or event-based settings (such as for wedding or photography events).

How can you become a makeup artist?

The most rewarding part of furthering your education is discovering what you will love to do in life. At the L Makeup Institute, our mission is to discover, educate, develop and place the best makeup artist and special makeup effects talent. Regardless of where you live or desire to work, if you are interested in a career in makeup, contact us for information on Programs or Courses at either our Las Vegas or Dallas campuses.

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