How to Become a Permanent Makeup Artist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

how to become permanent makeup artist

The decision to become a permanent makeup artist shouldn’t be made lightly. Although permanent makeup is a branch of the beauty industry that opens up countless possibilities, all of which is more than profitable in the current market, there is a lot of planning and preparation involved in succeeding in this feat.

No matter if you’re switching to permanent makeup from another, unrelated job, or you’re already working in beauty, there are three major prerequisites of working as a permanent makeup artist:

  • a certificate from a licensed permanent makeup course
  • health and safety training
  • a state-issued licence

Acquiring each of these is a process that takes time and effort, but it will pay off for a number of reasons. We give you a detailed guide on how to become a permanent makeup artist.

1. Training and Education

Although it’s great news there are no prior educational requirements, in order to become a permanent makeup artist, you must finish a course at a licensed school and get a certificate. This is the most important part of your journey, as your skill is what ultimately earns your living, so perfecting it should be a priority. You must take each aspect of the training, and especially the health and safety of your clients, very seriously.

What does a training course look like?

As we said, there are training courses that do not require any prior experience working in beauty. The length of these courses varies from school to school, and there are even online courses. Some cover only one technique, while other teach you 2 or 3. Generally, the training is made up of 1-7 days of live, hands-on work, followed by several months of supervised work (apprenticeship or mentorship), which is an opportunity to obtain the necessary hours of experience.

Live training courses cover the theory of permanent makeup; you learn about the tools, color theory, pigments and shade matching, (skin) anatomy techniques, correction techniques, safety precautions…. Some even give you tips on how to handle clients. Look for a course that checks as many boxes as possible. Once you’re done with the theoretical part, it’s time for practice. Most courses first offer training on props, then live models under the supervision of the teachers, of course. The groups are usually small, so each learner gets more than enough attention.

However, if you already have an aesthetician’s licence, you should ask around for supplementary courses that are much shorter and not as comprehensive in order to save time and money. This particularly applies to anyone already working in one permanent makeup field who’s looking to learn another treatment.

How do I choose a training course?

It is very important to choose an accredited school. The two major licensing authorities in the US are AAMThe American Academy of Micropigmentation and SPCPThe Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals. An unaccredited, unlicenced school doesn’t qualify you for a working license. Consider which permanent makeup procedure you’d like to learn and do thorough research on the courses available near you. Remember to always choose a course that cover both theory and practice, especially if you haven’t worked in cosmetology before. It’s advised to avoid courses that offer less than 100 hours of training.

It’s important to choose the course that best suits you lifestyle, but don’t enrol an unaccredited school just because it’s the nearest one or the cheapest one. An online course (or webinar) is a great option for anyone working another job, but it will take a lot longer to gain experience this way.

How much does a training course cost?

The price of a training course depends on it’s length, where you live, the reputation of the school, the reputation of the instructors, the demand in your area. The prices go from $3500 to $7500 for live trainings. Online training is cheaper at up to $2000, depending on the procedure.

2. Health and Safety Training

Permanent makeup might be non-surgical, but there is skin breaking and trauma involved, which means you still have great responsibility towards your clients. Although a quality, thorough course will give you an extensive introduction on how to keep your clients (and yourself) safe and healthy, some states require anyone applying for a state licence to go through additional health and safety training. Sometimes a first-aid training is required. Most states require for anyone working with blood to get training in bloodborne pathogens and communicable diseases. Others require you to pass a sterilization and sanitation examination.

These trainings also deal with proper handling of your workspace. You must learn how to keep the environment you work in sterile and avoid any possible contamination.

You should try and get these certificates as soon as you can after finishing the training course so you’re prepared for the next step in becoming a professional, which is licensing. Although acquiring these certificates is an extra expense, it’s a relatively low one; bloodborne pathogens training is usually under $25, while first aid training in priced at around $30.

get certified to do permanent makeup

Photo by Bruce Mars From Pexels

3. Licensing

Permanent makeup regulations vary significantly from state to state. Some states require you to be a licensed tattoo artist. In the states where permanent makeup is extremely popular, the regulations are quite strict, while other states do not regulate permanent makeup and body art in general at all. If you plan to work in one of the states that puts no limitations on permanent makeup, we still strongly advise you to finish your education at an accredited school. Clients tend to avoid self-trained artists for justified reasons; they don’t want to endanger their health and end up with a poorly executed look.

How to get certified to do permanent makeup?

In order to obtain a license, you must be given the green light by a licensing board. Which institution is in charge of this varies, but it’s generally done on a state level. The license confirms you meet all the legal state requirements.

The most important document you will need to enclose is the certificate of completion of a permanent makeup course at a licensed school. Most states then require you to have proof of an apprenticeship. If you chose a course that covers the (generally) mandatory 100 hours of experience, you’re set. If the course doesn’t offer this, you can apply for an apprenticeship at any local salon or spa.

Depending on the body that does the licensing, you may need to take a state board exam. The type of examination varies. Sometimes, an extensive portfolio is enough.

Here you can check the licensing conditions for your state, if you want to practice microblading in the US.

Additional requirements

All states require you to be over 18 in order to practice permanent makeup. Most states require you do get tested for hepatitis. If you’re looking to start your own busness, additional paperwork is required. You need to be insured and your workspace must meet a number of requirements. If you want to work in more than one state, you have to obtain the license for each individual state.

Some states require an annual license renewal through a fee. Others demand taking some type of course at certain time periods. Either way, these legal requirements must be met in order for your business to be successful and to maintain the health and safety of your clients.

Are there any associations of permanent makeup artists I can join?

Yes, although this is obviously not mandatory. There are two prominent associations whose purpose is to support, educate, inform and inspire aestheticians: AAM and SPCP. The American Academy of Micropigmentation and The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals are non-profit organizations that strive to promote excellence in permanent makeup through a voluntary examination process. The ultimate benefit of an AAM or SPCP membership is the continual progess and perfection of your skill. You will have the opportunity to connect with other artists and stay in touch with the industry and all the changes in it through conventions and meet-ups.

AAM and SPCP work across state boundaries. They require testing in order to join. SPCP testing is multiple choice questions, while AAM testing inclues a written exam, an oral and a practical one. They also require a certificate of completion of a Bloodborne Pathogens Standard course.

Main Takeaways

If you’ve decided permanent makeup is the right career for you, the first step is acquiring the necessary education. You also need to go through some health and safety training in order to protect both your clients and yourself. As soon as you start working on live models, you will obtain invaluable experience that will eventually get you to working with clients and charging for your services.

Obtaining a license is the next step. Although this can be a hassle, it is the only way to become a professional and keep your business legal and successful.

Good luck!


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