You may not need a four-year degree to become a special effects makeup artist, because talent and networking go a long way. At the same time, earning a cosmetology or stage makeup degree or certification can be beneficial in several ways. One is that you must display functional knowledge of the various related skills, or you may not be trusted to do a proper makeup job. Getting an internship usually is important to become a special effects makeup artist, because it helps you build a portfolio of work. A big part of getting this job is being able to network to people who may have an opening for this position.
Most special effects makeup artist jobs do not require a degree or certification, but there may be some instances in which it is a requirement; it also can give you a basis for learning how to better perform your craft. A degree or certification in stage makeup or cosmetology often is the most beneficial option if you plan on getting formal training. Taking special effects courses also may be helpful.
While formal training is not mandatory, you will be required to display functional knowledge of special effects makeup. This is largely determined by the project, because you may be required to perform many different tasks, such as making alien or demon masks, creating fake scars on actors or actresses or realistically aging someone. Without functional knowledge, it may be difficult to become a special effects makeup artist, because this field is creatively demanding.
It normally is important to get an internship on a movie set or other project in which a special effects makeup artist is needed. This can help you build a portfolio of work that actually is used on film, and it also can help you get contacts for later projects. Having real experience in the special effects makeup field also can help in getting a full-time job when you're read to become a special effects makeup artist.
As with much of the film industry, you usually will rely on contacts and networking to get a job in this field. These contacts can be from an internship, from knowing people working on a film project or from conventions centered on this field. There also are agencies that may be able to help you secure a position on a movie or commercial, but you may need some experience before an agency is willing to take you.