The Makeup Artist Salary: What to Expect in 2017 - QC Makeup Academy

When deciding whether to become a makeup artist, you’ll first want to know how much money you can make. There’s no use in choosing a career path that doesn’t offer a decent salary! The good news is, makeup artists actually make a pretty good living.

We did the research for you! Here’s what you can expect to earn as a makeup artist in 2017…

Makeup Artist Salaries in the United States

The average makeup artist salary in the United States is around $71,000/year or just under $35/hour. There is a wide range, however, so depending on your specific skills and location, you can expect to make anywhere between $22,000/year ($11/hour) to $125,000/year ($60/hour).

Makeup Artist Salary in Australia

In Australia, makeup artists can expect a salary range between $35,000/year ($17/hour) to $105,000/year ($50/hour). Again salaries vary according to a range of factors including experience and services offered. The average makeup artist salary in Australia is right around $53,000/year ($25/hour).

Makeup Artist Salary in Canada

Makeup artists in Canada can expect to make anywhere from $22,000/year ($12/hour) and $65,000/year ($32/hour). The average Canadian makeup artist will make right around $37,000/year ($18/hour).

Makeup Artist Salary in the UK

The average UK Makeup Artist will earn right around £20,000/year (£10/hour). A makeup artist’s salary in the UK can range anywhere from £12,000/year to £36,000/year depending on location, experience, and specific industry.

Factors that Influence your Makeup Salary

If you’re just starting out as a makeup artist, you can’t expect to earn a salary that’s in the top of the range. Anyone will tell you that you’ll need to work your way up to a top salary. But there are actually tons of factors that will affect your salary as a makeup artist:


Let’s not dismiss this one! A makeup artist with 6 months of experience can’t expect to make the same amount of money as a makeup artist with 20 years of work experience and a huge makeup artist portfolio under their belt. So be realistic. If you’re a new makeup artist, you can’t expect to make $70,000/year in your first few years of working.


Makeup artists can work in a wide range of industries, and your salary as a makeup artist will greatly depend on where you work. Makeup Artists who work in retail or at makeup counters (example – if your goal is to become a M.A.C. Makeup Artist) will probably be in the lower makeup artist salary range, while artists who work in the film and television industry (especially special effects makeup artists or celebrity makeup artists) will be in the higher range.


Becoming a Makeup Artist in a large and diverse city like Los Angeles or Sydney can open more doors for you to earn in the top salary range. These cities tend to have booming film and television industries and are trendy fashion scenes. The downside is competition in these cities is fierce, so you might need even more experience to hit the top salary range!

On the flip side, being a makeup artist in a smaller town can be a blessing in disguise. If you’re one of only a handful of makeup artists in a town, you’re probably in a better position to negotiate a higher salary, because your services will be in higher demand!


A certified makeup artist is likely to earn a higher salary than a makeup artist who has had no formal makeup training. Employers will pay more for someone who has a certification indicating they have the skills required to do the job! Of course, in some areas, a makeup certification isn’t required to get a job in makeup, but you’ll probably be paid a bit less if you’re not certified.

Other Perks

Keep in mind that the salary you take home isn’t always your full compensation package. Some jobs will have a slightly lower salary but will include other benefits like employee discounts on makeup products, or additional industry training/certifications, or paid vacation/sick time. Be sure you look at the whole package when looking at your salary!


Here’s more information about how you can get started as a freelance makeup artist.

When you own and operate your own makeup business, you have the advantage of earning a higher salary because the client pays you directly, as opposed to paying your employer. Of course, your costs as a freelance makeup artist might be higher since you have to provide your own tools and makeup. You’ll also have to find your own clients, but you can set your own prices!

How to Increase your MUA Salary

Other than giving yourself time to gain experience, there are a few things you can do if you’re looking to increase your pay as a makeup artist:

  • Get more training. Learning new makeup skills and adding makeup certifications to your profile will make you more valuable as a makeup artist.
  • Specialize. Adding a makeup specialization to your repertoire can increase your salary because you’ll have skills not every makeup artist possesses. Consider specializing in Special FX, Airbrush, Hena, or even complimentary services like hair styling.
  • Move. If you’re a seasoned makeup artist and aren’t being paid what you’re worth, look into moving to an area where your skills will be in demand.
  • Have a killer portfolio. If you’re an amazing makeup artist but have an underwhelming portfolio, odds are you’ll have trouble finding jobs and won’t be paid what you’re worth. Invest in having a portfolio that showcases you in the best light.

Looking to become a certified makeup artist? QC Makeup Academy’s Online Makeup Courses will prepare you for a wide range of makeup artist jobs!

Author Mireille Pitre

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