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Needing a Career Change? Here’s How to Become a Permanent Makeup Artist!

If there’s one industry that will forever be booming, that’s the beauty industry. Nowadays, the focus has shifted to getting more long-term results and a new branch got its spotlight – The Permanent Makeup Industry. Although permanent makeup is a branch of the beauty & tattoo industries this opens up countless possibilities, all of which are highly sought after in the current market. There is a lot of planning and preparation involved in succeeding in this industry. 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: Receiving your certifications from a reputable instructor, health and safety training and a state issued license and permit.

Permanent makeup treatments have been gaining popularity for years now and they don’t seem to be slowing down. Each day new artists start their careers in this field. So, if you’ve been considering joining in, there has never been a better time than right now!

Making any radical career switch can be scary as it requires quite a bit of initial investment, but with permanent makeup, it really pays off. The demand is still exceeding the supply, so if you have a good business plan, artistic talents and a strong work ethic you can succeed.

Let’s get into more detail about each of these important steps below.

Enroll in a Course & Get Certified

Enrolling in a course is the official first step in beginning your PMU career. There are SO many options out there, but the main distinction is if you’d prefer to do a live in person course or an online course. Live in person training courses take several days to complete and at the end of your training, you will get a certificate of completion. Online courses take a bit longer to complete, but you don't have the guidance from a master instructor help you. I recommend in person training to learn the basics and only after you master that, then you should take online courses to level up your skills. Example- with in person training you actually work on live models with the help of your instructor, and if there's an issue "and there will be" your instructor is there to help you troubleshoot problems you may come across. In the end, either which option you choose, you get a certificate of attendance or the certificate of completion.

In some states, completing an apprenticeship is required before you can start working. But even in those that don’t require it by the law, it’s a good idea to shadow an experienced artist and learn their tips and tricks. This is an excellent way to further sharpen your skills and gain practical knowledge. Even though I've been in the industry for a decade, I still contently learn new techniques and tricks from artist from all over the world. Continuing education is very important, never stop learning.

What Does a Training Course Look Like?

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

Generally, live in person courses include 1 to 7 days of live model, hands-on training, followed by several months of mentorship. They cover PMU theory, learning about the tools, color theory, pigments and shade matching, skin anatomy, correction techniques and safety precautions. Some even give you tips on handling clients, business management and marketing. 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 procedure. Online courses offer theory, but you have to practice on props on your own and you may not know how to do it correctly if you're a beginner without guidance. These consist only of textbook and video materials.

How Do I Choose a Training Course?

It is very important to choose an accredited academy. 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. I recommend finding these instructors on the AAM website-The American Academy of Micropigmentation. There you will find the TOP Permanent Makeup Instructors across the USA all listed by state. Remember to always choose a course that cover both theory and practice, especially if you haven’t worked in the PMU industry 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 a 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.

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 in person trainings. Online training is cheaper, the prices start at a couple of hundred and go up to $2000, depending on the academy and instructor.

Getting a State-Issued License

Seeing as permanent makeup procedures involve some health risks, most jurisdictions require artists to obtain a license and permit before they’re able to practice. This is a very important step as your client’s health depends on whether you do things safely and sterilize equipment properly. The certification and licensing process might be a bit different depending on the regulations of the state you’re in. In some places, you might also need to take a state exam be able to practice. You need to research your state regulations first. In any case, the certification needs to be issued by a registered trainer or an academy. Other states may need some additional certifications as well, such as first-aid training or bloodborne pathogen training. Sometimes even an apprenticeship is required before being able to work on your own.

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 and for multiple locations.

  • Some states require an annual license renewal through a yearly 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: The AAM and SPCP. The ultimate benefit of an AAM or SPCP membership is additional support.

Getting Started

When you’re just starting out, you don’t need to have your own salon right away. You just need to have a working space. Oftentimes, new artists will rent out working spaces in already-established salons, which I highly recommend. You need the support of the business owner and customer traffic from the already established business. But if you’re financially able to, you can open up your own salon or even turn a room in your house into one. But remember you'll need to check your local state rules.

Identifying your Ideal Clients

To be able to grow, you need to keep bringing in new clients and for that, you need to have a good marketing strategy. Social media is the best form of showing off your work and what most people will be doing their research on. So, you need to focus on keeping your profiles attractive and active. Here are a few articles that can help you out with that:

Utilizing Social Media

In today's world, social media is a vital tool for any business, and a salon is no exception. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest can help you reach a wider audience, attract new clients, and retain existing ones. However, to make the most of social media, you need to have a well-planned strategy in place.

Branching Out

Building a reputation as a knowledgeable and trustworthy professional gives you the freedom to gradually grow, raise your pricing, and expand your business. And while eyebrows are the most popular and is a very good starting point, there are also many other PMU procedures that are very highly sought after. Mastering these other techniques will help you increase your income and make your business grow. Permanent Eyeliner, Lip Blushing and Fine Line Tattooing have become very popular.


If you’ve decided permanent makeup is the right career for you, the first step is acquiring the necessary education required from a reputable academy. You can also contact your local health department to find more information on state rules and regulations. Obtaining a license and permit 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.

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