If you dream of becoming a professional MUA, you’re likely wondering how high your makeup artist salary can possibly be. This is an excellent question!
After all, when planning out your career, it’s normal to think long-term and have an endgame goal to strive towards. Whether you’re considering a career as a makeup artist, or you’re already a working professional, it’s only natural that you’ll want to know what sort of money you can potentially earn.
Though there are many different avenues you can explore, we’ve put together a list of 4 of the highest paying jobs you can have as a makeup artist. Plus, we’ve also included a few additional factors worth considering, too.
Note: All salaries described in this article are in US Dollars.
Do Makeup Artists Get Paid Well?
This is a good place to start. If your dream career won’t make you enough to pay the bills, then while it can be an awesome passion project, it won’t be sustainable as a full-time career.
Luckily, makeup artists DO get paid very well!
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” makeup artist salary. Two MUAs living in the same city can make totally different incomes. How much you earn is dependent on a number of impacting factors.
For instance, if you were to be hired on by an existing company, beauty salon, makeup counter, etc., you’d likely receive a set hourly wage. However, if you wanted to open your own makeup business instead (and work freelance, for example), you could make significantly more because you’ll get to set your own rates.
If running your own business, the defining factor will be the amount of effort you’re willing to put into your endeavors. Put in the minimum and you’ll GET the minimum. But if you work hard, stay patient, and maximize every opportunity at your disposal, you’ll not only thrive – you’ll make a killer salary!
What is The Salary of a Makeup Artist?
Keeping in mind what I said above, about there being no definitive makeup artist salary, I can give you general ranges. Here’s what you can expect to make per year, depending on where you live:
- United States: Between $40,000 to $70,000 USD (Source: Indeed)
- Canada: Between $30,000 to $60,000 USD (Source: Payscale)
- United Kingdom: Between $25,000 to $40,000 USD (Source: Indeed)
- New Zealand: Between $30,000 to $45,000 USD (Source: Payscale)
- Australia: Between $40,000 to $118,000 USD (Source: Indeed)
Who is The Highest Paid Makeup Artist?
Okay, so now you have a better idea of the type of makeup artist salary you can make. But let’s say you’re ultra ambitious and want to be the GOAT of the beauty world? What kind of MUA should you strive to become then?
Movie/Celebrity Makeup Artist
Ding, ding, ding! This is the answer right here.
Technically, a “movie makeup artist” and a “celebrity makeup artist” are two separate jobs. But since they’re part of the same world, we figured we’d list them together.
With the highest average salary, movie MUAs can typically earn approximately $74,000 USD to $92,000 USD. Coming in as a close second, celebrity makeup artists can find themselves earning an average of $60,000 USD to 86,000 USD per year. Wow!
As a movie makeup artist, you’ll responsible for how the actors and actresses appear on camera for each scene. Given that everything is in HD these days, the importance of what you do to make the actors look good (or bad, if the scene calls for it) is a huge responsibility not taken lightly.
A celebrity makeup artist, on the other hand, will tend to work with the stars in a more day-to-day setting. Your talents will be used to prepare your client for events like red carpet appearances, concerts, galas, fundraisers, private parties, etc.
3 Other Highly Paid Makeup Artist Jobs
1. Special Effects Makeup Artist
Whether it’s for TV, movies, fashion, photography, or theater, there’s no shortage of talent needed when it comes to good SFX makeup. That being said, special effects makeup requires specific skills and training. You can be a master of regular makeup application, but not have a clue what you’re doing the moment prosthetics come into the mix.
If you’re interested in pursuing this route, it’s imperative that you study SFX makeup. Learn the different types of products, what they do, how to apply them, how to create the look from them, how they react to the human body, etc.
The reward will be worth it, though! On average, a special FX makeup artist can rake in upwards of $66,800 to $75,000 a year!
2. Independent/Freelance MUA
Many makeup artists wish to branch out and start their own, independent business. This can be a great source of income! In fact, the average freelance MUA can make anywhere from $40,000 USD to $66,000 USD per year.
Fun fact: the top 10 percent can even earn up to six figures! Though your rates will likely be a bit lower in the beginning, as you build your resume, portfolio, and clientele, you’ll be able to start charging more for your services.
That’s part of the beauty of being a freelance entrepreneur: you can charge whatever you want! If your services are worth the price, then as you prove yourself, clients won’t hesitate to invest their money into you and your talents.
3. Brand Makeup Artist
What if you don’t have any interest in the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood industry? In the same breath, what if you don’t care much for sci-fi and fantasy makeup?
What if you don’t even want to run your own business? Does this mean you’re doomed to earn minimum wage and a lousy makeup artist salary for the rest of your life?
Not at all!
Another option you can look into is becoming a makeup artist for a cosmetic brand. NAS, for example, pays their top makeup artists approximately $24.00 an hour – and you don’t even need a cosmetology license to apply for their company! (Though looking at a past job ad they’d posted on Indeed, their expectations are still mega high.)
Even companies like Sephora offer opportunities for eventual growth. Yes, you may start off at minimum wage in the beginning. But with time, you’ll work your way up the ranks and prove yourself. As a result, you can eventually earn as much as $50,000+ per year as a manager!
Other Factors That’ll Impact Your Makeup Artist Salary
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the salary of a makeup artist isn’t an exact science. It’s also not concrete, as we’ve learned by now. There are tons of external factors that can affect the amount of money you make.
Let’s take a look at 4 of them, shall we?
1 – Location
If you want to be a movie and/or celebrity makeup artist, then living where the action only makes sense. But the same is applicable in general, too. Where you live in the world, and how well that economy is doing, will play the biggest role in how much you get paid.
Yes, it’s totally possible to be a successful MUA in a smaller town. However, it’s statistically proven that bigger cities will oftentimes amount to a better makeup artist salary. The flip-side, of course, is that larger cities have a higher cost of living. Not to mention, there’ll be more competition.
So, remember to factor that into your calculations!
2 – Education
Get professionally trained and earn internationally-recognized certifications through an accredited makeup school, such as QC Makeup Academy. By maximizing your education and taking a variety of Foundation, Advanced, and Specialty Courses, you’ll be soaking up as much cosmetic information as you possibly can.
Remember: there will ALWAYS be more you can learn. So, be open to learning it! You’ll be expanding your skills and making your resume even more impressive. There’s literally no downside!
Learn all about QC Makeup Academy’s wide variety of self-paced, online makeup and beauty courses here!
3 – Earning Your Stripes
Everyone would love to be able to be the best in their field, right from the get-go. But first you need to work for a while and actually get experience under your belt. Furthermore, you need to take the time to built your brand, establish a solid reputation, and grow your clientele.
Until you’ve done all this, the chances of landing a lucrative job in such a competitive industry are admittedly low. You need to be prepared to put your time and effort in. It may take a while (sometimes years), but if makeup is truly what you’re passionate about, I promise it’ll be worth the wait.
4 – Networking and Social Media
In the makeup industry, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. This is why it’s important for you to connect with other beauty experts on social media, attend functions and benefits, go to movie screenings, etc.
Make use of whatever is at your disposal to help you create connections with others in the industry. As you continue to build your portfolio and hone your skill-set, keep in mind that being both personable and social media-savvy plays a huge part in getting your name out there.
So, put the time and effort not just into your website, but the social media platforms you wish to have a presence on. Publish regular, unique content – and make sure it’s always your best content. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc. to reach out to those whose work you admire. Maybe there’s a vendor you’re interested in working with!
You’ll be doing your makeup career a MASSIVE favor by learning how to best brand yourself on the internet. As a result, you’ll be absolutely amazed at how far it can take you on the road to success!
Those who say that money can’t buy happiness are usually the ones who never had to work a day in their lives to get it. The fact is, money does matter to a certain extent – and having it is awesome.
Of course, in the makeup industry, what you do needs to be first and foremost a labor of love. The passion for the craft must to be your #1 driving force. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself disappointed when you aren’t immediately rich after your first appointment is over.