Become a Special Effects Makeup Artist: Schools & Courses

Ready to start a career as a special effects makeup artist? Here you'll find out which schools offer training in the field and discover what you might learn. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Special effects makeup artists turn actors in film, television and theater productions into characters, transforming them into monsters, heroes and villains. Training to become a makeup artists isn't as straightforward as a 'normal' career such as dentistry. There are 2-year and 4-year schools that offer programs -- or at least courses -- in special effects makeup artistry, but there are also dedicated trade schools that offer classes for people who want to get right into the field. Training includes both classroom work and hands-on work doing makeup.

What 2-Year Schools Offer Training in the Special Effects Makeup Arts?

There are a number of 2-year colleges out there with programs that focus on makeup. Some are cosmetology schools that focus primarily on doing everyday makeup. Programs like these provide a solid foundation for anyone who wants to later develop special effects makeup skills. A handful of these programs offer associate's degrees, while others offer diplomas or certificates. The following schools are a good place to start:

  • Blue Ridge Community College has a cosmetology Associate in Applied Science degree, cosmetology diploma and cosmetology certificate program.
  • Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas offers a technical certificate in cosmetology that can be completed in 45 credit hours
  • Western Nebraska Community College has an Associate of Occupational Studies in Cosmetology program

Are There 4-Year Programs in Special Effects Makeup?

There aren't any 4-year programs dedicated to the craft of special effects makeup for film, theater and television. However, several schools offer theater arts programs in which a course -- or several courses -- focus on the makeup arts. Others have 4-year degrees in makeup design or a related field. Some of these include:

  • Webster University boasts a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in wig and makeup design
  • The theater and dance program at the University of New Hampshire offers a course on stage makeup
  • The B.A. in Theater Arts at Oregon State University requires students to take a core course called Stage Makeup

What About Trade Schools for Special Effects Makeup?

Since special effects makeup is such a specialized field, the most common way to learn the craft is through a diploma or certificate program at a makeup school. These schools cut right to the chase (or right to the face, as it were) and teach students what they need to know to start working as a special effects makeup artist. All of these schools offer such programs:

  • The Academy of Makeup Arts has a diploma program in special effects makeup
  • Dick Smith Special FX Makeup Training offers both a basic and an advanced course (and diplomas) in special effects makeup design
  • Tint School of Makeup and Cosmetology has a certificate program called Special Makeup FX

What Will You Learn in a Special Effects Makeup Program?

If you enroll in a special effects makeup course at one of these schools, you can expect to learn a wide range of techniques that could serve you in your career. You'll learn sculpting techniques, understand how to make molds of people's faces, become adept at airbrushing, see how to create prosthetics and discover how to make dentures for special teeth effects. Additionally, some programs even offer classes in film script breakdown to help you understand how your work ties into the project as a whole.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Empire Beauty School

    Empire Beauty School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Empire Beauty School:

    • Certificates
    • High School Diploma

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

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    • Maryland: Owings Mills
    • Pennsylvania: Owings Mills, Hanover
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • La Belle Beauty School

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Hialeah
  • La Belle Beauty Academy

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Miami
  • Joe Blasco Makeup Artist Training Center

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Los Angeles
  • Elegance International

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Hollywood
  • Avi Career Training

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Great Falls
  • Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas

    Campus Locations:

    • Arkansas: Helena
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford