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It’s that time of the year again – GCSE & A level results. Exciting and a relief for students who get what they hoped for, disappointing and worrying for those who don’t do so well. It’s worth remembering, though, that university isn’t the only way to follow a career path when you leave school. A valuable qualification and a realistic chance of an exciting and rewarding career is equally possible through the vocational route. A BTEC in Make-Up & Hair, for example, is ideal training for school leavers.

The 2 year Make-Up & Hair BTEC Diploma is one of Brushstroke’s top qualification courses. We take students as young as 16* and train them to become make-up artists with broad, employment-ready skills ready to work in film, TV, stage and fashion. For many students it’s the springboard to becoming a successful make-up artist.

All employers want to hire people who are ready to work. Not just skilled in specific techniques, but able to apply themselves to the working environment. The last thing an employer wants to do is re-train people to make them useful! The entertainment industry is no different. Whether you are a make-up designer putting a team together or a senior employee at a major TV channel, you want properly trained people. Some are even insisting on trainees having recognisable qualifications such as BTEC.

‘Results month August’ is a worrying time for many youngsters and their parents. However, Brushstroke make-up and hair artist training offers a valuable BTEC qualification and an excellent chance of becoming part of the exciting world of entertainment.

(16*: In England, you can leave school at 16 but until you are 18 you must stay in full time education, eg at Brushstroke, or start an apprenticeship or traineeship.)

2 years’ career-focused training for school leavers 

The vocational route (such as a BTEC) offers a good career option because it is designed to help the student learn a set of employable skills. Anita Perrett is Brushstroke’s overall Qualifications Co-Ordinator and she sees vocational courses as preparation for the real world. She has a degree in Post Compulsory Education and combines her work at Brushstroke with a senior role as a make-up artist with Sky TV. An experienced make-up artist in TV drama, she offers a ‘360 view’ in terms of training and working in the real world:

“Doing a BTEC is perfect training for school leavers because it’s a natural follow-on. And, if you complete all 12 units of our level 3 diploma course, you graduate with the equivalent of 2 ‘A’ levels. More importantly, you are also a skilled make-up and hair artist, qualified to take on a trainee role. And at a very young age!”

Paula Cahill is Brushstroke’s BTEC Qualification Manager, working alongside Anita to deliver the kind of syllabus that helps students build successful careers. Like Anita, her background as a make-up artist (opera, musicals and TV) is invaluable. Currently, she divides her time between Brushstroke and working as a regular make-up artist/designer on BBC1’s Eastenders which gives her first hand experience of working with trainees on set:

“Working on set and in the studio – whether it’s film, TV, stage or fashion – calls for the right knowledge, ability and attitude. The make-up designer always has a long list of tasks to offload onto a trainee. Taking continuity pictures, assisting in the crowd room, trimming a fringe – there’s always something to do. At Brushstroke we help prepare them for their role in a team that has to work like clock-work.”

Anita Perrett overseeing some finishing touches
Paula Cahill working on a period look

The complete training for make-up artists

School leavers need the reassurance that the next 2 years is time well spent getting ready for work. So what can you expect to learn on the Brushstroke 2 year Make-up & Hair BTEC Diploma course? Here goes:

Period make-up and hairstyling

The Crown, Versailles and Call The Midwife are just 3 examples of how period looks remain popular on TV alone. So, not knowing how to interpret the looks of the different eras puts you at a massive disadvantage. From the startling looks of the Elizabethans, the opulence of the 18th century to the variety of the 20th century; we show our students how to create the required look in make-up and hair down to the last detail.

Haircutting and styling

Make-up and hair go together like Ant & Dec especially for production and TV companies working on tight budgets and seeking to hire just one artist. For this reason, all our courses include hair training. On the 2 year Make-up & Hair BTEC course, we teach key skills from hair cutting and barbering to styling, finishing and applying extensions. Students understand shape and form, as well as the correct use of different products, tools and equipment. (If you really want to establish your versatility, we offer 2 specialist courses: 1 Year Hairdressing & Barbering ITEC Diploma and 2 Month Barbering ITEC Certificate.)

Special effects make-up and prosthetics

Like many of the techniques we teach, sfx and prosthetics are areas in which many people go onto specialise (from Harry Potter to Darkest Hour). The general make-up artist must be able to create some basic, but nevertheless, clever effects. So we enable our students to turn their hand to sfx such as bags under eyes, wounds, injuries and bald caps. We also introduce them to life casting, sculpting and moulding for 3D character-creation.

Advanced fashion and editorial

By the end of their 2 years at Brushstroke, our students are confident in applying a range of advanced fashion and editorial techniques. This includes airbrushing and the application of full make-up – impressive skills to take on set. With advanced fashion, our students focus on perfecting looks and effects – for celebrities, the catwalk, photoshoots

Business studies

Continuity, scheduling, script break-downs and studio etiquette are just some of the tasks a make-up artist needs to master. Also, as freelancers, they are effectively running small businesses. We help them understand and manage both parts of their professional lives.

Social skills and attitude

The make-up artist plays a big part in helping a performer prepare to go to work. Not just in applying make-up and styling hair but doing so in such a way that the actor, dancer, model, musician, presenter are in the right mood. Some actors like to chat, some don’t but they all use their time in the make-up chair to prepare for their role. So making sure the environment and atmosphere suits them is an important part of the make-up routine.

That’s just a brief outline of our 2 year Make-Up & Hair BTEC syllabus. But, it demonstrates clearly how seriously we take the profession.

Our students don’t always take ‘the usual’ route with fashion make-up
Being skilled in hair and wigs makes our students versatile make-up artists

Make-up artist training: the checklist

Wonderful though social media is, it’ll never prepare you for working in the real (and fabulous) world of film, TV, stage or fashion. Enroling on the Brushstroke 2 year Make-up & Hair BTEC Diploma course is the ideal training for school leavers with ambition. Here’s a checklist of just 6 good reasons why:

  1. We stand for proper training, accredited by an outside body, with a syllabus that’s relevant to the industry.
  2. Gaining your BTEC qualification at Brushstroke is a career-starter – online tutorials cannot compete!
  3. Our inspirational tutors are all working make-up artists, bringing the excitement and reality of their world into the classroom.
  4. We have 3 tutors dedicated to making sure Brushstroke delivers an employment-ready syllabus.
  5. Our great facilities at Shepperton Studios (and Pinewood) offer a safe, secure and real-world environment.
  6. Students can study and re-take their GCSEs at a nearby college while studying at Brushstroke.

Ready to find out more about training for school leavers?

Leaving School?

Leaving school at 16 means you can train as a makeup artist with Brushstroke.

2 Year
Makeup & Hair Course

BTEC, Level 3 Diploma

Our most thorough training to prepare you for a career as an artist in TV, film, stage and fashion.

Makeup Artist Roles

Makeup artist roles differ depending on the industry - which one fits you?