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

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

This article was originally published November 2019. Updated November 2021.

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 an 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 license

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

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 you a living, so perfecting it should be the priority. You must take each aspect of the training, and especially the health and safety of your clients, very seriously.

Permanent Makeup Training and EducationImage source: Instagram @lisaomofficial

What Does a Training Course Look Like?

Most courses don’t require any prior experience working in beauty. The length of these courses varies from school to school, and there are even online courses. 

Generally, live courses include 1-7 days of live, hands-on work, followed by several months of supervised work (apprenticeship or mentorship).

They cover PMU theory; you learn about the tools, color theory, pigments and shade matching, skin anatomy, correction techniques, safety precautions…. Some even give you tips on handling 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 trainers.

Apart from beginners’ courses, there are supplementary courses great for filling in the gaps or for students already working in one permanent makeup field who want to learn another treatment.

Online courses offer theory, but you have to practice on props on your own. They consist of textbook and video materials, accompanied by support from the trainer.

How Do I Choose a Training Course?

It is very important to choose an accredited school. An unaccredited, unlicensed 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 beauty before. 

Don’t enroll an unaccredited school just because it’s the nearest one or the cheapest one.

Both live and online courses have their advantages. Live trainings provide hands-on experience. An online course is more affordable and it’s a great option for anyone working another job, but it will take a lot longer to gain experience this way.

If you need help deciding between a live and an online course, read this article.

How Do I Choose a Training Course?Image source: Instagram @gabrielaaddie

How Much Does a Training Course Cost?

The price of a training course depends on its length, the location, 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. The prices start at a couple of hundred and go up to $2000, depending on the academy.

2. Health and Safety Training

Permanent makeup might be non-surgical, but it involves skin breaking which means you still have great responsibility towards your clients.

Although a quality course will give you an extensive introduction on health and safety, most states require anyone applying for a state license 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 workspace hygiene. 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.

Live courses that include work on a live model require you to get bloodborne pathogens before the classes.

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 is priced at around $30.

3. Licensing

Licensing regulations vary significantly from state to state.

Some states require you to be a licensed tattoo artist. Regulations are quite strict in some states, while others hardly regulate permanent makeup. 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 avoid self-trained artists for justified reasons.

How Do I Get Licensed to Do Permanent Makeup?

In order to obtain a license, you must be approved 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 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 a local salon.

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.

Permanent Makeup Artist Training CourseImage source: Instagram @olga_ali_phibrows

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 business, additional you need additional approvals. You need to be insured and your workspace must meet all the 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.

Are There Any Associations of PMU 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 ultimate benefit of an AAM or SPCP membership is additional support.

Conclusion

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.

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!

Cover image source: Pexels

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