Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019. Updated in May 2021.
A career in permanent makeup has been alluring to many for quite some time. The reason for this is simple. The PMU industry does not only offer a dynamic and positive work environment, but it can also be very lucrative. Apart from that, anyone with enough persistence, hard work, and will build a career in this business. The first and the most important requirement is to complete a reputable PMU course and earn a certificate. Obtaining a certificate plus the necessary licenses qualifies you to start your dream job.
What Is Permanent Makeup?
So, how does permanent makeup actually work? A form of cosmetic tattooing, permanent makeup involves a set of procedures that place pigment between the upper and the middle layer of the skin, or between the epidermis and the dermis. These procedures can be performed with various devices, ranging from traditional tattoo machines, rotary or pen machines or it can be done manually with a multi-bladed tool.
What Are the Effects of Permanent Makeup?
The beauty of the permanent makeup business does not only lie in helping people enhance their appearance, but also in helping clients with scars from medical procedures and injuries. Also, many people with allergies and skin sensitivities can’t wear makeup, or people with arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other similar conditions that prevent them from applying makeup with precision. The artists usually work on the client’s eyebrows, lips, or eye area. Their techniques also involve camouflaging which covers up scars, hyperpigmentation, and birthmarks.
Here are some of the commonly available PMU treatments:
• Eyebrows: Microblading, Powder Brows, Microshading, Nano Brows, Feather Brows
• Permanent Eyeliner
• Lipliner and Lip Blush
• Scar Camouflage
• Beauty Marks/ Freckle Tattooing
• Scalp Micropigmentation
• Areola Repigmentation
Permanent Makeup Artist Salary Range
It is not easy to discuss the cosmetic tattoo artist salary because it largely depends on the location, popularity of the treatment in the area, as well as the skills and the experience of the artist. If you live in a small town, the number of customers cannot be compared to the number you can get by working in a big city. Also, if you are just starting your business and you lack experience you can’t expect to charge the same as the artists with years of practice.
That being said, according to ZipRecruiter, the average annual Permanent Makeup Artist salary in the United States is $55,093 a year ($4,591 per month, $1,059 per week, or $26.49 per hour), with yearly salaries majorly ranging between $31,000 and $57,500 across the country. However, ZipRecruiter is also seeing annual salaries as high as $120,000 and as low as $15,500.
City and State
Average Annual Salary
New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA
As you can see from the table above, the highest average annual pmu artist salary in NY and LA, where these treatments are also the most popular and in demand. Most other state capitals share an average income of around $55,000.
Are There Any Extra Costs?
Naturally, there will be additional expenses to take into account. First of all, permanent makeup artists have to rent a place where they will practice PMU treatments. It can be a room in an already established facility or they can rent their own salon, which will be more expensive. The rent price is hard to determine since it depends on location and many other factors.
Supplies the artists need for work, such as pigments, tools, and other disposable materials can vary in price. More quality materials will naturally require more investments.
Some other expenses include obligatory insurance as well as taxes that need to be paid annually. Also, a cleaning service and hazardous waste disposal expenses will cost you additional money.
What Affects Permanent Makeup Artist Salary?
As mentioned above, the location of the salon plays the biggest role in forming the price of the treatments. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles offer the best conditions for a lucrative career in PMU. However, the competition is strong here as well, so great and professional service is of utmost importance if you wish to build a name for yourself in this business.
Experience and Reputation
Beginners tend to charge lower prices, which will later be raised as they become more and more experienced. Also, they don’t have so many clients at the beginning, so they naturally earn less. If the artist is already a reputable and popular one, they are probably fully booked months in advance.
If you want to become a reputable PMU artist, you need to invest your time in learning, practicing, and advertising. Success does not come overnight and becoming great at what you do requires dedication and hard work.
In most countries, certification is a must, but some states don’t require it. Nevertheless, it is advisable to complete a good permanent makeup course, because it will give you the proper foundation and make you more prepared for taking your first clients. Artists who have learned from the best in business have a good background and clients will trust them more. They also charge more even at the beginning of their career.
How Do I Become a Permanent Makeup Artist?
First of all, you need to choose a treatment that you want to specialize in. It is not good to learn a couple of procedures at once because each of them requires dedication and takes some time to master. Microblading is currently the most popular, but also the hardest to learn. If you are already an esthetician and want to add a new service to your salon, try with a lip blush, or a lash lift, which are some of the most often requested treatments.
After completing a course, get informed about all the licensing requirements in your state and your county.
For more information, read our step-by-step guide How to Become a Permanent Makeup Artist.
Job Prospects and Growth Potential
People are getting more and more familiar with all the possibilities PMU brings and they are opting for the treatments in increasing numbers. With the industry’s constant innovations in the field of eyebrows and other forms of permanent makeup, you can rest assured that your business will only grow from here. Your only obligation is to earn a certificate and work hard on your skills to improve them as much as you can so that you can keep up with the market demands.
The key to success and great earnings is in providing the best service you can.