Makeup Artist Careers
A makeup artist is one of the last people a bride sees before she reveals herself to her wedding guests. Likewise for an actor walking out on stage or in front of a movie camera. From salons and spas to festivals and fashion shows, a career as a makeup artist can take place anywhere that people seek the transformative power of expertly applied cosmetics.
What Does a Makeup Artist Do?
As a makeup artist, you’ll obviously apply makeup, but some of your most important work will take place long before you ever pick up a brush, a sponge, or an applicator. Like all specialties in the field of cosmetology, makeup artistry is about helping your clients achieve the best version of their physical selves. That starts with thoughtful discussions that let you know exactly what your clients want while reassuring them that their all-important physical appearance is in good hands.
Beyond consulting with clients and, of course, applying and removing makeup, you’ll:
Makeup Artist Salary and Career Outlook
Makeup artists earn a median annual salary of $69,310, or $33.32 an hour, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2017. That, however, is specific to the entertainment industry. Those in the personal care field make an average of $16.66 an hour. Many makeup artists are licensed cosmetologists, and they earn an average of $11.89 an hour. Many others are licensed estheticians. They earn an average of $15.05 an hour.
What you can expect to earn also depends on where you live. Here’s what the average makeup artist earned in 2017 in the five highest-paying states:
Job Growth for Makeup Artists
The BLS doesn’t keep industry-growth statistics for makeup artists specifically, but instead offers projections for the larger field of cosmetology, which includes not just makeup artists, but hair, skin, and nail specialists, as well. The industry is expected to grow by 13% between 2016-2026, nearly double the average for all occupations, which is 7%.
The five states that currently employ the most cosmetologists are:
Working as a Makeup Artist
The path to a career in all fields of cosmetology—hair, skin, nails, and makeup—varies considerably based on career goals and the rules and regulations of individual states, but makeup artistry has the most variables of them all.
How to Become a Makeup Artist
To become a makeup artist, you’ll have to earn a makeup artist license—but only in a few states. Some states don’t require you to get any license at all. Others require you to get a cosmetologist or esthetician license. If this all seems confusing, don’t worry, there is a path to follow no matter where you live or what you want to do.
Makeup Artist Career Options
If you’re a skilled makeup artist, your career options are wide open. You might choose to work in any one of the following careers and work environments:
Traits of a Successful Makeup Artist
In order to be able to be a successful makeup artist, first make sure that you’re up to the physical rigor—you should expect to stand on your feet for long hours. It also helps to have a passion for art and creativity—the work involves choosing and matching colors, working with shading, and transforming a medium, in this case skin, through shading and accenting.
The work requires the meticulous organization of tools, supplies, and general workspace. Most importantly, however, you should be able to connect with people, be a good listener, and give your clients confidence that you know what they want and that you know what you’re doing.
Professional Organizations for Makeup Artists
As you progress through your training and career, you should stay up-to-date on trends, information, techniques, and news by joining or following the top professional and industry organizations.