Every makeup artist has to eat! If you’re thinking of becoming a makeup artist, you’re probably looking for a makeup career with a decent salary outlook so you can make a livable wage. Luckily, makeup artist salaries are looking pretty favorable right now, and demand for these professionals is pretty high.

But makeup artistry is a very broad field, and certain careers within the makeup industry will definitely be higher-paying than others. Today, we’re going to look at some of the top paying makeup careers out there and how you can enter them.

Celebrity Makeup Artist

Celebrities are ready to pay top dollar to look their best. But being a celebrity makeup artist takes much more than being an amazing MUA. You have to have a great personality and flexibility to boot. Celebrities can be the most fun and interesting makeup clients you’ll ever have! But working with, and around, celebrities can often add to the stress of an already stressful job. You need to be confident in your abilities and have amazing interpersonal and stress management skills.

If you’re interested in this career path, check out Nathan Johnson’s guide to becoming a celebrity MUA.

makeup career celebrity makeup artistry

Theatrical/Performance Makeup Artist

Doing makeup for theater, TV, movies, or other performance arts is a high-stress, high-skills job. Makeup artists in this position need expertise in multiple areas—no two performances are alike. Makeup for performance arts is different than your typical beauty makeup–oftentimes, the makeup artist is required to exaggerate the actor’s features in order to make the character look more realistic. Makeup artists will also need training in at least basic special FX makeup – being able to simulate bruises, cuts, burns, or to age a character quickly and effectively is often part of the job!

Read about QC Makeup Student Kayla Wilson’s experience doing makeup on live TV!

Special FX Makeup Artist

With the advent of CGI, you might think special effects makeup is on the decline, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Special FX makeup is more in demand now than it’s ever been–whether it be in movies, television, theater, entertainment, or special events (zombie run, anyone?) a special fx makeup artist can always find work.

Read more about the perks of Special Effects Makeup Artistry.

Freelance Makeup Artist

Not everyone makes a career out of being a standalone freelance makeup artist. It’s how most MUAs start out, but most professionals then change gears and go into a different career. For those freelance MUAs who do stick with their career, build up a client base and enhance their expertise through additional training through the years, freelance makeup artistry can be a real cash cow! Because you’re the business owner, you get a bigger cut of the client’s fee, AND you can set your own rates.

Lucky for you, QC has tons of articles on becoming a freelance makeup artist!

Beauty Writer/Editor

beauty writer alternative makeup artistry career

You probably have your favorite beauty bloggers or YouTube stars that you follow religiously on Instagram or YouTube. We all do! Becoming a full-time beauty blogger/editor takes a lot of dedication, but the pay-out can be HUGE! Once you have a household name and a following that’s attractive to brands, you’ll be bathed in free products and services, and actually paid by companies to review their stuff. Moreover, you can make good money off of ads on your blog or YouTube channel. Just don’t be smug here. Being a beauty blogger requires more than being an exceptional makeup artist. You also need impeccable writing skills (call the grammar police!), good photography skills, and you must be a great marketer.

Meet a QC student who became an awesome beauty blogger.

Makeup Product Developer

Developing your own line of makeup products can be an intimidating endeavor for a makeup artist, but you’re in a perfect position to get this done: you’re immersed in the industry and you work with the stuff every day, so you know what’s “good”, what’s “bad”, what clients are looking for, and what clients need! So if you have a penchant for market research and aren’t afraid to give product development a try, it can be an exciting career opportunity for you.

Read about a QC graduate who recently launched her own makeup line!

Bonus Career: Hair Stylist

hairstylist and hair styling essentials curling hair with flat iron

Technically not a “makeup career” but one that many makeup artists add to their repertoire. Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists go together like PB & J, so it just makes sense to offer both services in one neat package. Clients – whether they’re celebrities, theatrical clients, or regular everyday people needing beauty services for a special event – will appreciate the convenience of only having to hire one professional for the job… and they’ll pay handsomely for this service!

In fact, we think every makeup artist should learn hair styling essentials… here’s why!

If you’re interested in starting a career as a makeup artist, a makeup artistry certification will be your best friend. Check out QC’s Online Makeup Artistry Courses will get you started on the road to an exciting career!

Author Mireille Pitre

More posts by Mireille Pitre

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Amanda says:

    This is great for me to look at… I’m only 14 yrs old right now, but my interest in makeup is huge…. I love wearing makeup and I also love putting makeup on other people…. I get better and better at it each day, but I don’t know if I would ever be good enough to do celebrity makeup…. Do y’all have any tips on how I could possibly better myself starting at this age?

    • Celina Feng says:

      Hi Amanda, just keep practicing your skills and take a professional makeup course down the line so you can learn the correct techniques! Celebrity makeup artist and QC Makeup Academy instructor, Nathan Johnson, worked on his makeup skills for years before he graduated to celebrity clients! Just believe in yourself and take any opportunity to get better. You can do it! – Celina

  • Thanks for sharing it not just for me but for everyone about Career Options for Independent Makeup Artists & Film and television.Great post full of useful tips!

  • Khushboo das says:

    I am already working as make artist somewhere.. can I be a professional makeup artist

    • Celina Feng says:

      Hi there! If you’re already making money as a makeup artist, you can start calling yourself a professional! We encourage you to get a strong education to round out your skills. Earning a makeup certification will also allow you to earn a higher salary! Let us know if you need further guidance 🙂

    • xiluva Mahange says:

      Yes u can ,you just need to work harder on what you have started

  • Hannah says:

    I am 15 and my dream is to be a well-known esthetician.

  • Arpita says:

    I am only 14yrs old and I tried different different makeup looks. But the main problem is people says there is no future in makeup. But I swear I really want to be a big celebrity makeup artist

  • Gemma Mannering says:

    Love this blog! Really shows how many jobs there is out there involving makeup and how many people properly didn’t know of. There is definitely a future in makeup for anyone who puts time and effort into it, its not going to jump out at you, you have to work for it and once you get there it will be amazing! You can do so many jobs at different wages it just depends on where your passion lies.

  • Jordan Garcia says:

    It really is amazing how many avenues you can go with a makeup career. Some good advice that I received from Nathan was to really think about how you can differentiate yourself from the pack. He suggested learning as many things as you can so you can broaden your horizon and be able to offer more to your clients. My goal, like many of you, is to also one day work with high-profile artists and celebrities, but we all got to start somewhere! This article is a good reminder that we can make our dream jobs a reality if we put in the work. <3

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      That’s really awesome advice that Nathan provided you – thanks so much for sharing it with us! xx We definitely agree that a lot of people don’t actually understand just how many career options they have at their disposal, once they start getting professional training under their belt. We think it’s awesome that you have such wonderful goals and aspirations for your career. With the right work ethic and determination, we don’t see any reason why you won’t be able to achieve those dreams, Jordan! <3

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Florah komane says:

    Some people think that make up industry does not have money. I believe if this make up it is our dream we are on the right place to dream and become what we dream for

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      You are 100% right, Florah! Those who say that there’s no money in makeup artistry simply don’t understand the craft, or the amount of work that goes into the profession. Makeup is a career like any other. So long as one puts in the time, effort, and proper strategies, it can absolutely be a full-time, sustainable job. 🙂 Never give up on your dreams! <3

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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