Makeup Artist Salary

Makeup Artist Salary

Make-up artists have always been very sought-after in the fashion and beauty industry, as these professionals are indispensable for fashion shows, photo shootings and for people who want to look good, in general. However, in spite of the market demand, statistically speaking there are very few makeup artists in the United States of America (little over 2,000, to be more precise).

The average yearly salary of a professional makeup artist is of around $65,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As it happens with any other field of activity, the average salary of the makeup artist can also vary from one state to another, and it is not uncommon for these beauty specialists to make as much as $90,000 a year.

Pay Scale In Different Parts Of The US

It is not uncommon for makeup artists who live in the United States’ biggest cities to earn a monthly income that is above the average, and for a good reason keeping in mind the fact that the living costs are also higher. Statistically speaking, makeup artists who live and work in New York and New Jersey, as well as those from California tend to make more than $100,000 a year. The motion picture industry certainly plays a crucial role here, as California is by far the state with the highest number of makeup artists at the moment.

Makeup Artist Job Description

A makeup artist performs with a variety of different tasks, and these beauty professionals deal with presenters, models as well as performers. It is the duty of the makeup artist to make sure that the person in question looks impeccable before appearing live on camera or before showing up in front of an audience. It often happens that makeup artists work in the television, movie, theater industry, and their presence is also required for photographic shoots.

The makeup artist must be a visionary, he must be creative and technically accurate to come up with an impressive makeup depending on the clothing. The quality and intensity of the makeup varies a lot, from basic make-up to rather medium and hardcore make-up, the latter usually requiring prosthetics to create different characters and images (this hard type of makeup is usually required for the production of special effects).

The duties and responsibilities of a makeup artist in the United States of America vary a lot, but typically they need to possess good communication skills in order to be on the same wavelength as their customers, they need to product and sketch different design ideas for make-up, they must make sure that the hairstyle and the clothing match the make-up in question and it is also their responsibility to make sure that the overall look of the person matches their make-up.

It is the responsibility of the makeup artist to implement different lighting concepts and to test and see how different colors impact the skin. It is also their duty to take all the necessary precautions in order to limit the side effects of heavy makeup use, and they must be up to date with the latest rules and regulations. It often happens that makeup artists who work in the motion picture industry need to cast facial and body moulds in order to come up with prosthetics, and they must also maintain and take care of the wigs and the prosthetics afterwards. The makeup artist must also renew their beauty products on a regular basis, they must have good time management skills and they must take notes and create a thorough portfolio or track record that will illustrate their skill and talent over the years.

How To Become A Makeup Artist?

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cosmetologistIf you have decided to become a makeup artist and work for television, theater or the motion picture industry, then you should know that generally speaking, the duties and responsibilities of a true makeup artist do not limit only to applying make-up. These professionals must also perform different facial treatments and, on occasion, they may even provide hairdressing services. One thing is for sure, though: every makeup artist must have in-depth experience and training in the field, along with a license.

In order to enroll in a special makeup artist program, you must have only a high school diploma or a GED. After that, you need to find a good state licensed cosmetology school, which typically takes between 9 and 12 months to complete. After you have completed that training program, you will get a certificate or an associate’s degree.

Your portfolio as a makeup artist is undoubtedly your greatest asset, and it should contain pictures of your previous work along with all the contacts that you have managed to create over the years. It is very important that every makeup artist knows different contacts within the industry, for further references.

Once you have completed your formal training, you basically have two options: you can either start working as a makeup artist in a beauty salon, where you will pay a monthly rental rate to the salon’s owner, or you can open your very own salon. The latter option has a series of benefits, as not only does it grant you the financial freedom and independence that you are looking for, but it will also help you expand your horizons as a salon owner and manager.


As mentioned above, an aspect of utmost importance for your future career as a makeup artist is gaining your license. The exact requirements and qualifications for licensure as makeup artist vary greatly from one state to another, but what all states have in common is that they all require their applicants to have at least 16 years of age and to have completed the courses of a state approved cosmetology school. The license will be granted only after you manage to pass a written and an oral exam that will show your beauty and styling skills.

Salary In Canada, Australia And The United Kingdom

The salary for makeup artists varies a lot from one country to another. Those from UK usually make between 12,000 and 21,000 pounds a year, while makeup artists who live and work in Canada make anywhere between C$22,000 and C$65,000. On the other hand, makeup artists from Australia typically earn between Au$30,000 and Au$105,000 on a yearly basis.

Verdict On Makeup Artist Salary

To sum it all up, working as a makeup artist can be very financially rewarding. If you are passionate about beauty and you have enough creativity to match even the harshest requirements, then becoming a makeup artist may be the way to go!