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Makeup Artistry School

What to Look For in a Makeup Program | CMU College

By August 9, 2022August 16th, 2022No Comments

The makeup industry is one of the most competitive industries to get into. The creativity in makeup  has gone beyond the print and film world and has become a part of our everyday life. If you are interested in pursuing a career in the makeup artistry industry, taking the time to invest in learning and perfecting the craft of makeup artistry can help you stand out from the crowd.

In today’s blog, the team at CMU College is going to go over a few of the things that you should look for when finding the right makeup program.

What is Makeup School?

Many freelance makeup artists start as self-taught individuals and may even begin to build their portfolios without formal makeup training. However, enrolling in an accredited program is beneficial in building one’s career within this industry. You can find these programs at community colleges, vocational schools, art schools, and universities. In fact, institutions like CMU College are entirely dedicated to the industry and helping individuals build a well-rounded skill set for makeup.

At CMU, our courses go beyond the standard makeup application. Most colleges will offer classes in makeup application techniques, skin care, professional etiquette, marketing, and more. Some also provide certification courses, such as Certified Professional Makeup Artist (CPMA), that allow students to earn credentials. At CMU, we offer the same classes but also offer courses for individuals interested in pursuing a career in special effects makeup artistry or character creation where makeup artists will frequently use software and prosthetics.

Professional Makeup Artist

Having a certification as a professional makeup artist means that you have completed a course and testing and have proven yourself skilled in makeup artistry. It shows that you can apply makeup professionally and understand the industry’s basics. 

Below are a few reasons that investing in a makeup artistry course can benefit a makeup artist’s career in the long run.


Certificates are awarded when someone has completed a course where skills are tested, and knowing that a makeup artist has done so can speak to their abilities. In these instances, skills go beyond the self-taught level and are taught at a formal, professional level. When a customer or prospective client sees your certificate, they know you are qualified and have the knowledge necessary to perform the job well.

A Solid Portfolio

Having a portfolio of work is important when applying for jobs. When creating a portfolio, a makeup artist wants to ensure there are enough samples to show off their best work. When enrolled in a makeup artistry course, there are various opportunities to capture looks and add them to one’s portfolio, providing an opportunity to showcase talent.

Increase Your Opportunities

Let’s face it; makeup artistry jobs can be highly competitive. It comes down to the skills of an individual on whether or not they’ll be a good fit for certain positions.

People often hire professionals based on their experience and reputation. Makeup training courses can prove that you have the skills and knowledge to create a look and work in the field. 

Industry Connections and Networking

Networking is essential if you want to advance in your makeup artistry career. Many companies look for certified makeup artists because they know that these individuals are skilled and knowledgeable. They have worked with clients before and know how to handle difficult situations. Industry connections also help with job hunting.

In taking a course at a school where students will be given a chance to interact with skilled instructors and peers, the potential of building a network in the industry is unlimited. 


Being recognized by your peers is great, but being recognized by the public is even better. Getting a professional makeup artist certification shows that you are dedicated to your craft and willing to spend time and effort learning new things. Beyond that, it shows that you were a student and have been recognized as skilled by the institute you received your certificate from. This can help makeup artists stand out among their competitors.

What to Look for in a Makeup Artistry School

If you’ve decided to enroll in a makeup artist school, below are a few factors to consider when finding the right course and school.

Course Variety

A good makeup school will offer a wide range of courses.

Choosing a school that offers classes that cover everything from basic makeup techniques to advanced skincare and colour correction can allow you the freedom to develop a variety of skills. This can also ensure you have the chance to learn all aspects of the profession and avoid specializing too early. Doing so can ensure that one is well-rounded in their career.

Some programs will also offer courses on business and marketing, which can be helpful if you plan to start your own makeup business.

Hands-On Learning

The best way to learn makeup artistry is by practicing. Make sure that the school you choose offers ample opportunities for hands-on learning, so you can get the experience you need to feel confident working with clients in the future.

Many makeup schools offer student clinics where you can practice your craft on live models. Others offer workshops where you can apply what you’ve learned in class and give makeovers to friends and family members.

A strictly theory-based makeup course may be fine if you are only interested in the history of makeup or the science behind it. However, if you want to learn how to apply makeup and pursue a career in the industry, you need to find a makeup school that offers hands-on learning.

This way, you can try out different products and makeup techniques and get feedback from your instructors. Getting practice with live models is also a great way to work on building your portfolio.

Experienced Instructors

When you learn from the best, you can be sure you are getting comprehensive training. Ask prospective schools about their instructors’ qualifications and experience. Also, ask them about their teaching methods and whether they use demonstrations or lectures.

Having a solid foundation in the basics of makeup application is essential. Still, it’s equally important to know how to apply makeup with precision.

A good instructor will teach you how to do both. They will also offer real-life, practical advice that will help you avoid common mistakes beginners make in their makeup careers. In addition, they have years of experience applying makeup professionally, so they know exactly what works and what doesn’t.


If you want to work as a freelance makeup artist in the fashion or beauty industry, it can be helpful to choose a school that is located in a fashion district or near major studios. This way, you can network with industry professionals and get your foot in the door right after graduation.

However, if you are not interested in working directly in the fashion industry, location doesn’t need to be a primary focus. There are various schools located in small towns and cities, so you should have no problem finding one that is a good fit for you.

Certification Post-Graduation

Once you have completed your makeup training, you will want to be able to show potential employers that you have the skills and training they are looking for.

Make sure that the school you choose offers certification that employers in the industry can recognize. Otherwise, you might have trouble finding a job after graduation.


Some schools offer certifications that include specialized areas like hair styling, special effects, or prosthetics. These certifications can give you an edge over other graduates and can be beneficial if you’re interested in entering industries where these skills will be helpful. If you know which skill sets will be valuable for a career you’re interested in, finding a school with those specialized courses should be a priority.

Positive Testimonials

Reading reviews and success stories from past and current students can save time and money when choosing a makeup program.

You can read reviews online or reach out to their former students on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t see any positive comments, this could mean that the school isn’t top-rated or that there aren’t many graduates who are happy with their experiences. On the flip-side, finding schools where students have seen great success or enjoyed their experience can be a telling sign that the school is one worth looking into. 


You can also check out the websites of professional associations such as the American Academy of Cosmetic Science (AACS) or Cosmetology Educators Council (CEC).

The AACS has a directory of accredited makeup programs, which includes information about each school’s accreditation status. CEC provides information about cosmetology education standards and requirements.

Group of kids posing with makeup on

A Welcoming Campus Life

You’re going to spend a decent amount of time studying the program, so the last thing you want is to feel like you don’t belong there. Make sure to choose a makeup program with a campus life that feels welcoming and comfortable.

A few additional factors to consider with regards to campus include:


Is it important to you that instructors are friendly and approachable or reputable and experienced? Knowing your preferred teaching style will help you identify what type of instructors will help you thrive. Take the time to research the faculty or ask to sit in on a class to get to know the type of learning that best fits your needs.


Finding a makeup artistry program that has a diverse student body is something that we absolutely recommend. When there are diverse programs, students are able to meet and work alongside individuals from different backgrounds and cultures. In doing so, they also get the opportunity to learn about different makeup applications as well as how certain makeup career opportunities will vary from country to country. 


Ensure that the school has a strong alumni network and that its graduates are happy with their choice. Strong alumni networks are invaluable for career networking. A good alumni network can make it much easier for you to find your dream job.

Choosing the Right Education Path

There are many routes you can take to become a successful makeup artist. While many do start their career with self-taught skills, pursuing a certificate or a degree is a good way to build a strong foundation as a makeup artist.

When determining which is the right education path for you, start by narrowing down your options and career goals. For example, do you want to specialize in certain areas, such as movie makeup? Or do you want to learn how to apply makeup for everyday use?

Based on how you answer these questions, you can better determine which approach will be best for you.

Diploma Course

Makeup diploma courses usually focus on teaching you how to apply cosmetics professionally. They typically cover topics such as makeup application techniques, product knowledge, and safety procedures.

These courses often require you to complete practical training sessions, where you’ll apply your new skills in real-life situations. In addition, some schools provide hands-on workshops so that you can practice applying makeup with models.

Upon completion of the course, you’ll receive a diploma that demonstrates your ability to apply makeup professionally. Many schools offer these courses online, but an in-person program can be beneficial for those looking for additional guidance and hands-on experience.

Certificate Courses

Many makeup artists prefer to pursue a certificate course because it allows them to gain more experience without committing to a long-term contract. A certificate course usually lasts between six weeks to one year. During this period, you’ll have access to various classes and workshops.

Certificate programs will most often cover the use of basic cosmetic products to more advanced techniques used in theatre or television. Most certificate courses include practical training sessions, which allow students to apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios.

The downside of certificate courses is that they are ideal for one specific area of makeup artistry, whereas longer programs or degree courses can provide a well-rounded and thorough look at makeup artistry and the skills needed.

Bachelor’s Degree

Many universities offer bachelor’s degrees in makeup artistry that help students gain a well-rounded foundation in all skills used for various jobs. These courses usually last two years, and while they are longer, they do provide additional value. 

In most cases, you’ll need to pass various exams before being awarded a degree. The exact requirements vary depending on the institution, but many colleges ask you to demonstrate your proficiency in various areas, including:

  • Cosmetic science
  • Product knowledge
  • Safety procedures
  • Makeup application
  • Professional etiquette

What do I Choose?

Pursuing an education in makeup artistry is ideal for anyone looking to one day have a career within the industry. Taking the route of obtaining a degree in makeup artistry can be a great fit for anyone who wants to build a toolbox of skills in various areas. Essentially, participating in a longer, more thorough education will allow students to graduate with more defined skills and a better understanding of makeup techniques and when to use them. 

On the other hand, certificate programs can be the fast-track to obtaining skills for individuals who know exactly what they’d like to specialize in with regard to the makeup industry. Rather than complete various programs, students can focus entirely on the skills they need to go after the jobs that interest them.

If you’re not sure what the best fit is, the team at CMU College can help. Reach out to our admissions advisory team, and we’d be happy to discuss the various options to help you work towards your ideal career.

Courses Available at CMU

The College of Makeup Art and Design (CMU) is North America’s leading provider of makeup artistry education. We offer a wide variety of makeup courses. From hairstyling to special effects makeup for film and television, our courses cover all aspects of the industry.

Here is a list of some diploma courses available at CMU:

Complete Makeup Artist

The Complete Makeup Artist Diploma is an intensive eight-month program that teaches you everything you need to know about applying makeup professionally.

It covers all the basics, plus it gives you the opportunity to learn more advanced techniques. 

In this course you’ll learn:

  • Photographic and studio hairstyling
  • Fashion photographic makeup
  • Theatrical makeup
  • Film, television, & special effects makeup
  • Prosthetic makeup
  • Practical creature design: sculpting

This course is perfect if you want a career as a full-time makeup artist working in the entertainment industry. It combines theory with practice so you can gain hands-on experience while studying.

More specifically, you’ll be qualified to work in the following fields:

  • Fashion and editorial makeup
  • Wedding makeup
  • Prosthetics design and fabrication
  • Creature design
  • Special effects makeup
  • Film, TV, and commercial makeup
  • Theatrical and live show makeup

This program is taught by experienced industry professionals. They are able to provide you with real-world advice and guidance.

In addition to classroom sessions, you’ll have access to a state-of-the-art lab where you can experiment with different products and techniques.

Comprehensive Makeup Artist

While the Complete Makeup Artist covers all aspects of the industry, the Comprehensive Makeup Artist Program focuses more specifically on the technical, hands-on side of the business. 

In this 6-month course, you’ll learn:

  • How to use tools effectively
  • How to create realistic textures
  • How to blend colours effectively
  • How to sculpt facial features
  • Photographic and studio hairstyling
  • Prosthetic makeup

This course is designed for those who already have a strong foundation in basic makeup artistry techniques. After completing the Comprehensive Makeup Artist Program, graduates can apply their new skills to:

  • Fashion and editorial makeup
  • Bridal Makeup
  • Commercial makeup
  • Creature design
  • Special effects

If you’re looking to expand your foundational knowledge of makeup, then this is the right course for you. It goes into so much detail that you will feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know about makeup application.

Global Makeup Artist

If you’re looking to expand your horizons beyond just makeup, then the Global Makeup Artist Program could be right for you. During this intensive 23-week course, you’ll study;

  • International makeup trends
  • Studio and photographic hairstyling
  • Skincare
  • Creature design
  • Body painting
  • Special effects makeup

This course will teach you how to work across different cultures and styles. Graduates are qualified to work in:

  • Television and film production
  • Theatres and live shows
  • Bridal and special event makeup
  • Fashion and editorial makeup

You don’t need to limit your makeup career to one geographical area. This course gives you the freedom and skills to travel the globe and work wherever you choose. You’ll learn the different cultural makeup practices around the world as well as how to adapt them to suit your own personal style.

Digital FX Makeup Effects Artist

CMU’s Digital FX Makeup Effects Artist Program is one of the most popular programs offered by the college. This 4-month course is taught by top industry artists who have worked on numerous films and commercials. 

The curriculum includes:

  • Creating digital characters
  • Photoshop
  • Designing and building prosthetic makeup
  • Figurative sculpting
  • Building a digital portfolio

After completing the Digital FX Makeup Effects Artist Program, graduates are qualified to work in any field that requires creative visual communication. These include:

  • Makeup effects design
  • Character design for video games
  • Post-production editing
  • Animation
  • Video game development

Digital FX makeup is rapidly becoming an essential skill for anyone working in the entertainment industry. With the rise of computer-generated imagery (CGI), it has become increasingly important for artists to develop their ability to create believable digital characters.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in working as a freelance makeup effects designer or animator. It also provides a great opportunity for those with experience in other areas such as illustration, graphic design, and animation to develop their career in the world of makeup artistry.

Total Fashion Makeup Artist

If you’ve always wanted to get started in fashion makeup but didn’t know where to start, then the Total Fashion Makeup Artist Program may be what you need. This 4-month course is taught by some of the best professionals in the industry. 

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • Photographic makeup for fashion
  • Studio and photographic hair styling
  • Skincare
  • Fashion makeup career planning

This course teaches you how to master the basics of makeup for the fashion industry so that you can take your skills further when it comes to creating looks for runway shows, photo shoots, and magazine spreads. Graduates are able to apply their knowledge to:

  • Fashion editorial photography
  • Film and TV commercial makeup
  • Fashion show makeup
  • Client-based makeup
  • Bridal Makeup

Fashion makeup will always remain a highly sought-after profession due to its versatility and high demand. If you’re successful, you can work with major makeup brands, fashion houses, and even film studios.

Double Diploma Makeup Artist

The Double Diploma Makeup Artistry option allows you to combine two of CMU’s popular diploma programs. Students will receive both certificates upon completion of the course.

In addition to learning about the latest makeup technology, students will gain valuable insight into the business side of the industry. They will learn how to market themselves professionally, how to build a client base, and how to manage their own clients.

Once you complete this program, you will graduate with:

  • Two diplomas in different areas of makeup artistry
  • An understanding of the business side of the makeup industry
  • The ability to work in digital makeup effects, bridal makeup, character makeup, and more!

By enrolling in a Double Diploma makeup artistry program, you’ll get twice the education and training as if you had enrolled in just one of our programs, and you’ll receive a tuition discount. You’ll also open yourself up to more networking opportunities from both alumni networks at CMU.

Consider CMU College For Your Education

Now that you have an idea of what to look for with regard to a makeup artistry program, it’s time to find the right school for you. CMU College has been dedicated to teaching individuals who are passionate about makeup artistry the skills and techniques they need to succeed in the industry since 1987. 

The award-winning instructors at CMU have taught more than 5,000 makeup artists the skills they need to pursue a career as a makeup artist in the film & television industry, theatre, digital and special effects, and the like. As the only school that offers all eight disciplines of makeup industry, CMU is a great school to consider when pursuing an education in makeup artistry.

Whether you’re certain of which career path you’d like to pursue or you’re interested in obtaining a full, well-rounded education that covers various disciplines, CMU College has a program that will fit your goals. Between the specific certificate programs and the more robust degree programs, our admissions advisors can help you find the right path for your end goals.

Aside from that, CMU College is open to international students, making us one of the more diverse makeup artistry schools in North America. Learn more about the college and discover the various ways that CMU College could help you achieve your career goals.

Enroll at CMU Today

With a focus on hands-on experience, experiential learning, and small class sizes, we prepare students for a successful career in makeup.

Our faculty members are experts in their areas of study and have worked with top brands such as MAC Cosmetics, L’Oreal Paris, Chanel, Lancôme, Clinique, Estée Lauder Companies, Revlon, CoverGirl, Smashbox, Maybelline New York, Urban Decay, and many others.

At CMU, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to explore their passions and reach their full potential. That’s why we make it easy for you to find the best fit between your interests and your studies.

Find out more about our degrees and programs and schedule a virtual tour of our campus to get a feel of what your time at CMU College would look like.