How to Decide if a Makeup Artist Apprenticeship is Right for You

Mario Dedivanovic is the artist behind the face of one of today’s best known celebrities, who is renown for her unique and sought-after makeup style. While he is often lost in her spotlight, what is an even lesser-known fact is that Dedivanovic got his start in the industry in large part through working as an apprentice on sets. That’s according to the ASHLEYLauren blog, which speaks on behalf of that red-carpet fashion line.

For Dedivanovic, what started out as a job as a fragrance consultant unexpectedly turned into a successful career in makeup artistry. Dedivanovic’s biography details how he gained confidence at an early age seeing the models he worked on look in the mirror and smile. He was already apprenticing for some of the top makeup artists involved in New York’s major fashion and beauty campaigns by the age of 21.

The connections he made as an apprentice undoubtedly helped him get to where he is today, with clients including Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Katy Perry. He is perhaps best known for being the makeup artist behind Kim Kardashian’s signature look.

Achieving Your Goals Through a Makeup Artist Apprenticeship

Sure, it would be nice to be the artist behind major celebrities. But for lots of people it would be just as nice to be a renown local makeup artist in your home town or city, respected by your clients whether they be high school students getting ready to graduate, brides-to-be, or silver foxes at the salon or spa. Completing an apprenticeship can be a valuable experience along your career’s path to success.

These are a few of the advantages that potentially come with completing an apprenticeship:

  • You are introduced to the clients and networking opportunities of an experienced and talented makeup artist
  • You gain real-world experience in two important realms: the artistry of makeup and the business of makeup
  • You have more time and less deadline pressure to hone your skills over a longer period – the beauty school education requirements to fulfill licensing obligations are often half as long as apprenticeships
  • You have one-on-one attention from an experienced professional in your field

How do you know if an apprenticeship is right for you? First of all, realize that you’ll need to demonstrate talent for any prospective apprentice master. They are going to be entrusting you with their clients, so you’d better be able to prove that you are skilled in the makeup arts and capable of learning.

Next consider what your learning goals are. Do you want the focus of one-on-one instruction, or would you prefer a classroom environment where everyone makes mistakes together? Do you already have a specific field of makeup artistry and apprentice master in mind, or are you more interested in earning a general makeup artistry education through a structured curriculum?

There is no right or wrong answer when considering a makeup artistry school vs an apprenticeship. It all depends on your own goals and talent.

State-by-State Listing of Makeup Artist Apprenticeships

No matter what state you live in, makeup artist apprenticeships are always an option for you to learn your art and trade from an experienced professional. Since the dawn of civilization craftsmen and craftswomen have passed their expertise to the next generation through apprenticeships.

At this point a distinction should be made from voluntary apprenticeships, and apprenticeships that fulfill the educational requirements in states where you must meet obligatory licensure regulations to work as a makeup artist.

43 states require you to have either an esthetician or cosmetology license to work as a makeup artist. Many of these allow you to academically qualify for licensure through apprenticeships. The following list shows which states allow apprenticeships for esthetician or cosmetology licenses, and their respective time requirements:

States that Allow Esthetician Apprenticeships

  • Alabama – 2,000 hours
  • Alaska – 350 hours
  • Delaware – 1,200 hours
  • Hawaii – 1,200 hours, or a combination of school and apprenticeship hours on a 1:2 equivalency (one hour of school equals two hours of apprenticeship, and vice-versa)
  • Maryland – at least six months and at least 30 hours per week
  • Michigan – at least six months
  • Missouri – if you cannot complete school you must provide a valid reason, and upon approval complete 1,500 hours of apprenticeship
  • New Hampshire – 1,200 hours
  • Oklahoma – if you cannot complete school you must provide a valid reason, and upon approval complete 1,200 hours of apprenticeship
  • Vermont – 1,200 hours, 800 hours if you have at least 200 hours of formal education
  • Virginia – 2,000 hours plus at least 144 hours of classroom instruction, if you can find an available apprenticeship
  • Washington – 800 hours

States that Allow Cosmetology Apprenticeships

  • Alabama – 3,000 hours
  • Alaska – 2,000 hours
  • California – 3,200 hours with at least 220 hours of classroom instruction
  • Delaware – 3,000 hours
  • District of Columbia – 2,000 hours
  • Georgia – 3,000 hours
  • Hawaii – 3,600 hours
  • Idaho – 4,000 hours
  • Kentucky – you are required to work for at least six months as a cosmetologist apprentice as part of earning your full license
  • Maine – 2,500 hours and you must prove that you are unable to attend a traditional school
  • Maryland – 2,080 hours
  • Michigan – 1,920 hours
  • Missouri – 3,000 hours
  • New Hampshire – 3,000 hours
  • Oklahoma – 3,000 hours and you must prove you are unable to attend traditional school
  • Pennsylvania – 2,000 hours
  • Utah – 2,500 hours
  • Vermont – 24 months
  • Virginia – 3,000 hours
  • Washington – 2,000 hours
  • Wisconsin – 4,000 hours

Excluding the following exceptions, if your state is not listed then at this time you cannot qualify for an esthetician or cosmetology license with an apprenticeship. What about the seven states that don’t require you to earn an esthetician or cosmetology license to work as a makeup artist? Five states do not require any formal education to become a makeup artist:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota

Two additional states still require you to complete a formal education program, and do not accept apprenticeship hours earned in lieu of these programs:

  • Florida
  • Louisiana

Of course you can always pursue a makeup artist apprenticeship even if it isn’t part of licensure requirements. And you should also note that laws are always changing so it’s a good idea to check with your state’s board of cosmetology to find the most up-to-date licensing requirements and apprenticeship options.

Post-Apprenticeship Success Stories

The following two makeup artists talk about how their careers took off after they had developed their skills and made a concerted effort.

Liz Beckett – British esthetician and makeup artist Liz Beckett recently reflected on how her career took off in an interview with the BBC. Touting a resumé that includes the London Olympics, the BAFTAs, and national concerts and music festivals, Beckett remembers how she got her first job in the industry – a dance show – by contacting another makeup artist she already knew. Even though her first on-site encounter turned out to be with a rude manager she persisted, and after that production ended she found a few other minor jobs as a makeup artist scattered across her locality.

After putting in months of early mornings combined with erratic schedules, she worked on a show that featured an ever-changing cast of guests, which meant a great opportunity for meeting new people and establishing contacts. From there her career skyrocketed and she couldn’t fit everyone into her scheduling book. One of Beckett’s most enjoyable moments has been doing the TV interview circuit talking about working in the field of esthetics.

Kabuki – Known mononymously as Kabuki, this makeup artist has also worked on the set of Sex and the City and has a repertoire of stars that includes Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Lady Gaga, and most memorably Michael Jackson. The Makeup Mole asked how he got his business going as an esthetician and makeup artist, as well as what tips he has for aspiring professionals in the field.

Kabuki says that getting started, at least for him, had a lot to do with networking and getting his name out there. After a while of doing successful gigs here and there, eventually he was recommended by someone in the beauty industry as a competent makeup artist for a big production. From here his name got out and Kabuki’s career really took off.

As for makeup tips, Kabuki says one of his secrets is to apply makeup at a table so he has a place to rest his elbows for a steady hand. Even if a client is going to wear just a little bit of makeup, it’s of the utmost importance to apply that cleanly.

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