How To Become A Makeup Artist

If you have always wanted a career that will give you a chance to make people look beautiful or at least, different than usual, then you can consider becoming a makeup artist. In this profession, you will have the opportunity to prepare individuals for live performances, film and photo shoots and other special events by using cosmetics, wigs and accessories.

While there are also hairstylists who focus on doing a person’s hair, you may also be asked to style a person’s hair so as to complete his or her overall look. Depending on the industry you work in, your job may simply be to hide flaws so as to bring out a person’s physical strengths or you may be tasked with creating imaginary characters for movie or television.

As a makeup artist, you need to be very creative and up-to-date with the latest style and fashion trends. You also need to have a steady arm since this is what you will use to apply the cosmetic to your clients. You must also have the ability to pay attention to detail, especially up close, for obvious reasons. You should also know how to provide quality customer service to clients and listen to their needs so that you can give them the kind of makeup they want.

Why Become A Makeup Artist

Those who love cosmetics and color will find a career as a professional makeup artist very satisfying. Experimenting with cosmetics, transforming a person’s look through their application and even making a totally new character through the use of makeup is indeed gratifying. It’s also an opportunity to showcase your craft and artistic talent. For those who are able to penetrate the theatrical and performance scenes, the pay can be quite lucrative.

Makeup artists get to establish their reputation in the field and can thus get a steady stream of clients through recommendations from their previous and current customers. Those who are really enterprising can even become entrepreneurs by opening their own beauty salons.

Makeup Artist Work Environment

Makeup artists can choose to work in beauty salons, spas, bridal boutiques or in the theater and film industries. Some opt to become freelance makeup artists who provide specialized services for weddings, runway models and theater presentations. The work schedules of makeup artists vary. Those who work fulltime for salons and other beauty establishments can expect regular hours. Those who are in the theater and film industries may need to work evenings, weekends or holidays if there are performances or shoots scheduled at these times. Freelance makeup artists may also work variable hours.

The business of makeup artists is to improve people’s appearance for special occasions through the use of cosmetics. The salary is not the primary reason for going into this profession since the mean annual wage is not exactly lucrative. It’s the passion to really make a difference in how people look and feel when they see their new look in the mirror.

Makeup Artist Salary

The salary of makeup artists vary depending on the industry they are in. The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of barbers, hairstylists, hairdressers and cosmetologists is $27,540. This can be quite low but this does not yet take into account the tips that makeup artists often get for their services. Theatrical and performance makeup artists, however, earn more as far as basic pay is concerned. The report revealed that their mean annual wage is $66,330.

Average Makeup Artist Annual Salary


The average annual salary for makeup artists is $69,310 a year. Salaries start at $21,250 a year and go up to $127,030 a year.

Average Makeup Artist Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a makeup artist is $33.32. Hourly wages are between $10.21 and $61.07 an hour.

Stats were based out of 3,540 employed makeup artists in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Makeup Artists

Top Paying Cities For Makeup Artists

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Makeup Artist Career Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the employment rate of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists is expected to grow 13 percent in the decade covering 2012 to 2022. This rate is about as fast as the average for all job types. Competition is expected to be tough in higher paying salons but those with experience will have an edge.

Makeup Artist Degree

To gain entry into this career, a high school diploma or its equivalent is needed. Most states require that makeup artists graduate from state-licensed cosmetology schools. The program usually lasts for nine months and may pave the way for an associate’s degree. A complete cosmetology course may take a year or two years to complete. In order to get your license, you will need to take a written test and sometimes, a practical test or oral test. Requirements vary by state.

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