Thinking of become a professional MUA in 2021, but want to know what sort of makeup artist salary you can expect? QC Student Ambassador and alumnus, Nadia Calabro, is here to tell you what salary projections look like for the upcoming year – as well as 7 factors that could affect your income!

New Year, New Start

2021 is finally upon us, and I cannot be alone in saying, good riddance to 2020! Last year was challenging in so many aspects! The last time we made a blog post like this, we were predicting 2020’s makeup artist salary. But at that time, no one could’ve guessed that a global pandemic was about to strike.

COVID-19 certainly had a profound impact on the world of professional makeup artists. Business practices that we had been accustomed to for so long were suddenly pulled from under our feet. Thanks to social distancing, we were forced to adapt to a new way of working – or face the prospect of losing everything!

At first, it seemed like the worst possible thing that could have happened. It was easy to become discouraged. Many of us considered that perhaps there was no point in continuing on in what seemed like a predominantly hands-on industry. But once we all took a step back and reevaluated, we realized that this situation was actually a strange kind of blessing.

makeup artist wearing face mask and applying makeup to female client

Turning a Negative Situation into a Positive One

The time off many of us suddenly had provided the chance for us to build a new mindset and a stronger game plan. We’ve been able to do more in-depth research into our industry and competitors and gain the tools we need to grow in our communities. We got the opportunity to put more focus in the education behind our business; taking new courses and furthering our training in order to enhance our skills and offer new things to our clients.

On top of all that, we’ve learned how to carry our business through an unprecedented time. For many of us, this has given us the confidence to believe that we can take our business anywhere! Everything that we learned throughout 2020 laid down the stepping stones and support to help us subsequently make it through 2021 in a much more successful way.

Even if COVID-19 does stick around for the unforeseeable future, it no longer needs to hurt our careers!

The Makeup Artist Salary in 2021

If you’re thinking about becoming a working MUA this year, chance are one of the top questions on your mind is: “What sort of makeup artist salary can I expect to make in 2021, with the pandemic still going on?”

It’s important to say here and now that there is no cut and dry answer to this question. The most I can offer are projections, based on current numbers. The future is uncertain, and there’s always the chance that the makeup artist salary in 2021 can be higher or lower than what’s currently predicted.

Not to mention, it’s difficult to nail down the makeup artist salary in general. This has been the case long before the pandemic began. For example, two artists living in the same area can find themselves making completely different yearly salaries!

This is a profession where there are a LOT of additional factors that can influence and determine how much you can make as a professional makeup artist. So, let’s take a look at 7 of the most common ones!

1 – Location

Every country has an average makeup artist salary range per year. That average also tends to varies within the different parts of the country itself. For reference, here is a general breakdown of the average makeup artists salary from a few different parts of the world…

  • Canada: Average of approx. $42,278 CAD annually
  • United States: Average of approx. $47,917 USD annually
  • United Kingdom: Average of approx. £20,000 GBP annually
  • New Zealand: Average of approx. $38,800 NZD annually
  • Australia: Average of approx. $52,650 AUD annually

It’s important to also remember that this is a general breakdown of the country. Whereabouts you are living within the country will also make a difference in your makeup artist salary. For instance, people living and/or working in major cities in these countries can – and often will – charge more for their services than MUAs in smaller towns. Therefore, makeup artists residing in larger cities often land on the higher end of the salary scale.

2 – Training

In today’s world, most people feel they don’t need to pay to get properly certified in any area of their industry. This is especially true for aspiring makeup artists. With easy access to online makeup tutorials, most people think that with enough practice, they can learn enough to become a working professional.

Now, while this is very possible, most don’t realize that just because you can mimic a look does NOT mean you have a legitimate skill-set. Without properly learning the foundation, techniques, and theories involved in makeup artistry, you’ll only ever be left with the ability to copy other people. You’ll never be able to create authentic, original work that is both technically correct and foundationally sound.

Without professional training, you lack an understanding of the basic concepts and makeup techniques needed to truly succeed. A proper makeup education will allow you to take on any job, since you’ll have the knowledge and training necessary to accomplish whatever your client is asking for!

makeup brushes in container on table

3 – Services Offered (or Not Offered)

This goes hand-in-hand with having professional training. The more training you have, the more areas of makeup you know!

As makeup artists, we can all find our very own niche. Our niche can be used to our advantage, in order to make our services all the more unique. This can potentially attract more clientele, which means a higher makeup artist salary.

That being said, while it’s important to find that part of ourselves, it’s also important to remember that our niche is not the be-all and end-all of our capabilities. Rather, a niche is an area that we have passion and excel in – but it’s not the only thing we can do!

If we only offer one area of service, we’re limited to how much income we can make. Take bridal makeup, for example. This can be a very lucrative area of business – but it also has its slower times of year. If you only offer bridal makeup services, then during the quiet seasons, you wont bring in nearly as much of an income.

The more you offer, the more you’ll be noticed. This, in turn, means a better bottom line for your business!

4 – Your Target Audience

With every niche comes a target audience. After all, not every style or area of makeup is for everyone. When you determine your niche, you must also determine who the people are that will be looking for an artist like you. Once you’ve determined your target audience, you’ll need to find a way to grab their attention. So, make sure you’re advertising your business in ways that they’ll appreciate – and most of all, notice.

makeup artist working on male client

5 – Your Business Name, Brand, Portfolio, and Website

There are so many things that go into establishing and running a successful business! There are a few things you will need right away when first starting out.

Begin by picking a business name for yourself. This name has to be catchy, unique, and clearly identify what you offer. Next, pick a brand that identifies the services you offer, as well as your sense of style! After that, make sure that your professional portfolio and website are established, easy to find in an online search, and display everything you want your clients to see.

Use all of these things to tell the story of who you are and where you see your business going. They’re meant to sell you to your audience! The stronger the sales pitch, the more clients you’ll be sure to book… which means a larger makeup artist salary!

6 – Social Media Presence

We live in a technological world. Everything we do revolves around social media! If you want to be known, get on social media ASAP! Build a profile that’s appealing to the eyes and shows off your style. Use all the appropriate and relevant hashtags, and add and interact with other people in your field. Most importantly, post something every day so your page is always relevant!

A strong social media presence is ALWAYS critical for maintaining a solid business. By keeping active online, even during slower times when you’re not getting as many bookings, you can continue to increase your exposure and build an even stronger reputation for your company.

Plus, there are TONS of ways you can maximize your social media game to help increase your makeup artist salary. Keep reading here to learn more!

makeup artist filming herself on camera

7 – Be Different Than the Rest

Do and offer things that make you stand out from the rest. Depending on where you live, there might very well be a makeup artist on every corner. Obviously, your skills, work ethic, and results will make people choose you over someone else. But it’s always good idea to make your business stand out in other ways, too.

Offer workshops to teach people how to do their own makeup. Provide virtual services and consultations for those who can’t (or don’t want to) meet in-person during the pandemic.

Your only limitation is your imagination, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

How to Increase Your Makeup Artist Salary in 2021

Right now, it’s still difficult for a lot of us to get in-person work. Many of us took a financial during the dreaded 2020. So, how can we make this year different and increase our income?

1 – Get Professionally Trained!

If you’ve been working as a makeup artist thus far, without professional training, then there’s no better time than the present to change that. Getting professionally trained is a guaranteed way to enhance your skills, teach you new ones, and give you a certification behind your name that clients will trust!

close up of makeup artist applying eye liner to client's eye

2 – Add to Your Qualifications!

Most of us still have a lot of extra time on our hands. If you’ve been thinking about taking a new course, now is the time to jump on it! You can never learn too much. With more education comes more expertise. This enables you to offer more services, and you can even charge more for your existing services, since you’ll have advanced training under your belt.

3 – Develop a Specialization!

Being good at many different areas of makeup can lead to a bunch of different career paths. But if you also have a specialization in an area that you positively excel in, you’ll be able to open doors you’ve never even imagined before!

Specializing in a particular area allows you to grow and develop unmatched skills – perhaps ones that your competition does not have. This will impress clients and allow you to charge more for that unique service!

4 – Adapt Your Business Online!

In the age of social distancing, i’s time to transform your business into a virtual one. This might seem impossible in our line of work, but I promise you, it is not. As I mentioned earlier, you can easily offer virtual consultations and services, as well as teach virtual classes and workshops.

In order to survive this trying time, we must find a new way to connect and supplement our makeup artist salary!

Interested in taking your business online but not sure where to start? Check out QC Makeup Academy’s Virtual Makeup Training mini course!

high fashion model wearing makeup for photoshoot

6 – Revisit Your Website and Portfolio!

Being busy with clients is a blessing, but it sometimes leaves us neglecting other areas of our business. For example, it’s easy to forget that potential clients are still looking through our website and portfolio to see if we are the ones for them. If our website or portfolio images are out-of-date or of poor quality, this can turn a client away before you’ve even had the chance to speak with them!

So, take the time to go through what you have already posted. Make sure the pictures are of high quality, that information is current and correct, and that everything is a proper representation of who and what you are!

5 – Strengthen Your Online Presence and Marketing!

Use your downtime as an opportunity to learn more about effective marketing strategies, or to fix up your social media pages. Make sure that your page is speaking the same language as your business, and that it’s reaching the people you’re intending for it to. Even if you don’t have a large number of clients to post on your social media feed, find at least one thing related to your business to post each day. This will ensure that you’re still staying relevant and noticed!

7 – Create a Client Retention Program!

Right now, with the way the world is, there may not be a practical reason for your previous clients to come see you. This is why it’s imperative to come up with a strong client retention program that will ensure past clients WILL come back to you once they require your services again.

Create a rewards program, a referral program, and/or a loyalty discount! Clients want to feel important and appreciated – not like they are just a number.

makeup artist taking photo of bridal client

Who would have thought that we would be living through the times we have? When we became makeup artists, we could have never known what the future would hold for us. Running a successful business is hard, even in the best of times. But with a changed world, things quickly get even more complicated.

Being able to adapt to any situation is a part of who were are as artists. Right now, we have to adapt to the world instead of the job. But there’s nothing we can’t do if we just put in the heart and work to do so.

2020 is done and gone, and with that, better times are upon us!

Make 2021 the year you follow your dreams and take the makeup industry by storm! Enroll with QC Makeup Academy today and get certified in as little as 3-6 months!

Author Nadia Calabro

More posts by Nadia Calabro

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