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How to get a job as a mortuary makeup artist

Updated March 23, 2017

Do you always get compliments on the way you do your make-up? Do you have a gift for giving others tips on how to do their make-up well? You might be able to be a professional make-up artist and get paid for your skills. One way you could accomplish this is to become a mortuary make-up artist. This job involves preparing dead bodies for burial by doing things such as applying make-up, doing manicures, fixing hair, dressing the body, reconstructing disfigured faces and the like. While it may sound like a macabre job description, your reward is not only that you get paid well, but you can also bring comfort to bereaved family members by making their deceased loved one look as good as possible.

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  1. Be certain that you are able to feel comfortable as a mortuary make-up artist. If you have any qualms about being around and handling corpses, it may not be right for you.

  2. Take cosmetology classes at a beauty school and learn general make-up techniques, as well as how to fix and style hair. You can also follow up by going to a mortuary school or community college that offers classes in Mortuary Science, where you can learn more about how to apply make-up to the dead, restoration airbrushing and other knowledge that will prepare you to work as a mortuary make-up artist.

  3. Get your cosmetology license, as you are required to have it posted in the work station of any place you work as a cosmetologist. You must have attended and graduated from a beauty school recognised by your state's Department of Licensing and you generally have to successfully complete at least 1600 hours of the required coursework and training for your individual state. You will have to take and pass a National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology exam and present proof to the state licensing board you wish to apply to.

  4. Work as a "conventional" make-up artist or cosmetologist first, so you can get more experience and build up your resume.

  5. Contact funeral homes in your area and see if they need anyone to do make-up on the bodies of the deceased. Present them with a professional resume that includes your training, experience and references, as well as photos of people on whom you have done work. It's sometimes better to go in person so that the funeral director knows that you are serious about applying.

  6. Tip

    Remember to get your license renewed, when required, as it will be cancelled if you let it expire beyond a year. Should this happen, you will have to take the licensing exam over again.

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