Makeup artistry is an exciting, challenging, and incredibly rewarding career choice. While many set forth to become makeup artists, we regularly receive questions asking what it is exactly a makeup artist does, and what sort of working conditions she or he will have.
In this post, we’re happy to share with you one version of the job description of a makeup artist. We hope this information helps you in making a wise career move, and invite you to contact us at QC Makeup Academy with any questions you might have. Our friendly team of student support specialists will be more than happy to provide you with more information.
The education requirements for a makeup artist vary based on region. In certain countries and states, you must have a cosmetology license to work as a makeup artist. Since cosmetology programs typically touch on makeup very briefly, most aspiring makeup artists find it helpful to also pursue makeup-focused training, such as the online makeup courses offered by QC Makeup Academy. Other regions require no certification or license to operate as a makeup artist. It’s best to do your research in the area in which you’re hoping to work to ensure you’re well prepared and have all the necessary documentation to get started—even as a freelance artist.
As a makeup artist, you’ll be the go-to person for product recommendations, advice, and makeup tips. It’s expected that you’ll be familiar with the most popular types of both pro and drugstore makeup, have a good understanding of application techniques, and know how to use different types of makeup—think liquid foundation, powder foundation, cream foundation, etc. You’ll also need to understand basic color theory and have the ability to match skin tones to complementary colors. The same makeup will not produce the same results on all face shapes, skin types, complexions, or skin maturities. Knowing how to create a personalized makeup application for each of your clients is essential, and will come from hands-on practice as well as theoretical training.
The average makeup artist’s salary is a figure that’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint, largely because there are so many variables. If you’re working freelance, you are paid per hour or per project and can work more to make more, or work less and make less. If you’re salaried, there’s a little more stability—generally between the $27,000 and $35,000 range. Working in film or for television makeup could mean making between $60,000 and $90,000—whereas working at fashion shows, for celebrities, or for a cosmetic brand’s HQ could mean $100,000 or well above.
Sample Career Path
Below is a sample career path of someone looking to establish themselves as a self-employed makeup artist:
Working as an assistant makeup artist for a more experienced makeup artist. You may take on side-jobs as your skills improve.
Working as a freelance makeup artist, building reputation, building a client list.
Working as a senior freelance makeup artist, perhaps employing your own assistant at this point.
Employing more than one assistant or intermediate makeup artist, perhaps working for a cosmetics brand or in a consulting capacity, continuing to take on preferred projects (with more experience comes more choice)
A makeup artist’s duties largely involve applying makeup. This could mean makeup for someone headed to their prom, a special event, or a wedding. It could be a special event makeup, makeup for television, or makeup for photography. It could be makeup for fashion show models, performers, or character makeup for the theater. At some point in your career, you may become a “Key Makeup Artist” or “Makeup Designer” and act in more of a designing, consulting capacity rather than a hands-on application capacity. There are many different options available to you—which is fantastic, as it gives you more control over the future of your career.
The working conditions of a makeup artist are always changing, and are completely different from one job to the next. You could be setting up in a hotel room to get a celebrity looking their best for a red carpet appearance. You could be asked to fly to a remote location for an on-location photoshoot and have to do makeup under the hot, hot sun. You could invite clients to your at-home studio or be visiting brides at their parents’ house the morning of their weddings. What you can bet on, however, is that there will be plenty of travel! You’ll need to be able to manage your time well, work under pressure, and be able to deliver your best on a tight schedule.