How Much Does Makeup Artist School Cost?

So you're thinking about going to makeup artist school. That's wonderful! It's the best way to start a long and satisfying career as a cosmetic artist. But how much will it run you? How much does makeup artist school cost?

Let's take a look at the different kinds of classes you can take, the price tag on each class, and some FREE alternatives that can get you into a makeup artist career ASAP.

Different Types of Schools

Basically, makeup artist schools offer different types of programs for students. Here's a quick rundown of the different schooling options you have.

For makeup schools that focus on fashion makeup, you can go to:

  • A "full time" school for three to six months, where will learn absolutely everything you need to know, and that will cost you between $10,000 and $25,000 for the program; or you can go to...
  • An "intensive" course that will last from two days to two weeks, which will cost anywhere from about $500 to $3,000, and focus on a particular subject (such as airbrush makeup, or bridal makeup).

For makeup schools that focus on special effects makeup, there is usually one type of school, and that is...

  • A full-time school that teaches you everything you need to know (from sculpting to creature design to prosthetics to mold making) for anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 or more (special effects makeup schools can get expensive!).

For more details about the types of schools—and their advantages and disadvantages—check out our post titled "The Best Makeup Artist School for You."

Schools Out... Forever

Here's something a lot of future MUAs don't know, and are thrilled to find out: you don't actually need to go to school. It's true! If you want to become a freelance makeup artist—in fashion, bridal, or special effects—you don't need formal training, and you don't need a license to practice as a makeup artist. How great is that?

But, you should definitely ask yourself...

Is It Worth It to Go to School?

Yes. Very much so. Not only will schools teach you makeup theory and the techniques you'll need on the job, they also offer networking opportunities (you can build professional relationships with your instructors and the people they know) and they will teach you about some business aspects of the job that you probably hadn't thought about. School can be a huge advantage to someone just starting out.

THAT BEING SAID, if you don't have the money to go to school—and most of us don't—and you're willing to work very hard and learn on your own, you can bypass formal training.

Do Makeup Artist Schools Offer Financial Aid?

It depends on the types of classes that the school is offering. The full-time schools—in other words, the really expensive ones—usually offer student loans, so you can borrow money to attend class. The intensive courses that offer classes that last from two days to two weeks usually DO NOT offer financial aid (although some may).

Some schools have payment plans, where you can arrange to pay off the course of your classes over a certain period of time. That can be a great option if you don't have a lot of cash, but be aware—it is AWFUL to be in debt!

How Much Does Makeup Artist School Cost

What Are My Other Options?

Because there is no license required to practice, and because school is not a pre-requisite to finding work, there are a few different ways to get into a MUA career. If you are interested in fashion makeup, you can:

  • Go to a cosmetology school. There are a lot of differences between cosmetology schools and makeup schools, and the most noticeable is curriculum. In a cosmetology program, you'll learn about all aspects of beauty, including hair, nails, and skin—and you'll probably only spend a couple of hours studying makeup. However, you will have a broad beauty education, which can be very helpful to a makeup artist—and you'll be able to get a cosmetology license and work in spas and salons if you ever have a hard time finding work as a makeup artist. Another advantage is that cosmetology schools can be much less expensive than makeup schools, with an entire program costing between $2,000 and $10,000.
  • Go to an esthetician school. Estheticians are basically skin care therapists. They provide facial treatments, body wraps, depilation (aka, "hair removal") services, and skincare instruction to clients. And while it is a smaller part of their job, they also education their clients on how to use makeup and how to find the best look for them. Esthetician schools may also provide instruction about makeup, but it won't be the main focus of the course. The advantage of an esthetician education is that you will learn a great deal about the skin, and that is an important subject for makeup artists to know about!

If you know for certain that you'd like to become a makeup artist, then you're probably best going to a makeup school. If, however, you'd like to get into the beauty industry and you're not certain where, a cosmetology program or an esthetician program can be a great place to start.

Two Creative Alternatives to Paying for School

As we stated above, you don't need to go to school to become a makeup artist. But, as we also mentioned, any formal training you get can be REALLY helpful. So, there are two "thinking out of the box" options you can choose if you want to get taught—and pay a lot less.

Find Private Lessons from a MUA in Your Area

If there are makeup artists in your area—and it's very likely that no matter where you are, there is someone doing bridal makeup—contact them and book some private lessons. You can say you'd like to learn about a particular topic or technique, or even about how they run their business and find clients.

Taking a few private lessons will cost you a LOT less than going to school. Plus, most freelance makeup artists LOVE private lessons because it's easy money for them. Some may not be thrilled at the idea of training their competition, but most won't have an issue with it—especially if you're paying for their attention!

Become an Assistant to a Freelance MUA Near You

Here's another way to get a lot of experience as a makeup artist, and it won't cost you a dime. Contact a MUA in your area—make sure it's someone who works a lot, and has a solid business—and offer your services for free.

It can be rough working for nothing, and for a lot of people, it's not an option. But if you can swing it—if you can hold a part-time job and be an assistant on the side—it can be a totally FREE way of getting into the business. Plus, you'll learn a lot of the "real world" lessons that no school can teach you!

Where Do I Go from Here?

If you are considering a career as a makeup artist, that is WONDERFUL! Our entire site is about getting you the information you need to be as successful as you can be, so take a look around. There is plenty to learn!

​Image Credit: "Re-Apply" by Victoria Harjadi via Flickr

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