Do you have a passion for makeup and want a career that’s both creative and lucrative? If so, then you may want to consider becoming a makeup artist! There are many different career paths you can take within the field of makeup artistry, and each one has its own unique set of benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss 16 of the most popular and profitable careers in makeup artistry.
We’ll also answer some common FAQs so that you can gain a better insight into the professional makeup industry. So, if you’re ready to learn more about these exciting careers, keep reading!
Before we get started, did you know that we’ve written the ULTIMATE guide on how to become a makeup artist? It’s true – and you can read it here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we reveal the top 16 careers in makeup artistry that you should seriously consider pursuing this year, let’s first address some of the most commonly asked questions. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what working as a professional MUA is like in the real world!
What is The Highest Qualification in Makeup?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because it depends on the country you’re living in and the specific job you’re applying for. In general, however, makeup artistry is an unregulated industry. Meaning, you aren’t technically required to have specific training or qualifications in order to do makeup professionally.
That said, most makeup artists have at least a high school diploma. Some jobs may require additional training or certification, but this will vary depending on the employer. With that in mind, the MUAs who go on to find major, long-term success more than likely have completed some sort of professional certification training – such as the kind offered by QC Makeup Academy.
So basically, even though getting a reputable certification isn’t mandatory, it’s still strongly encouraged!
Check out QC Makeup Academy’s full list of self-paced, online certification courses here!
Which Field is Best for a Makeup Artist?
This answer is subjective, because there are so many different fields that a makeup artist can specialize in! It all depends on your personal interests, strengths, and desired career path.
For example, some MUAs focus on doing special effects makeup for movies and TV shows. Others may prefer working with brides on their wedding day, or helping models get ready for photo shoots. Some makeup artists even go on to open their own salons or product lines!
The possibilities are truly endless.
What is The Average Makeup Artist Salary?
How much you’ll make as an MUA depends on a few factors. As with any other career, your success will depend largely on the amount of effort and dedication you put into your work. However, if you’re successful in building a thriving makeup artistry business, you can expect to earn a very comfortable salary.
Average Makeup Artistry Salary by Country
As a point of reference, here are some up-to-date salary ranges for makeup artistry professionals, based on a few example countries:
- United States: Between approx. $31,200 USD and $75,270 USD per year. (Source: Talent.com)
- Canada: Between approx. $28,000 CAD and $57,000 CAD per year. (Source: Glassdoor)
- United Kingdom: Between approx. £29,250 GBP and £45,000 GBP per year. (Source: Talent.com)
- New Zealand: Between approx. $32,000 NZD and $63,000 NZD per year. (Source: Payscale)
- Australia: Between approx. $29,000 AUD and $116,000 AUD per year. (Source: Payscale)
Factors That’ll Impact Your Makeup Artistry Salary
When looking at the above numbers, keep in mind that where you fall on the scale will ultimately depend on a number of factors. Such factors include (but aren’t limited to):
- Where you live
- Your level of experience
- The quality of your makeup portfolio
- The demand for MUAs in your area
- Local competitors
- The type of makeup services you offer (i.e. bridal, editorial, special effects, makeup for film and TV, everyday makeup, etc.)
- The quality of your website and social media channels
- Your business brand
- How much effort you put into your marketing, networking, and overall business strategies
- Whether you offer in-person services, virtual services, or both
- And more!
What Else Can a Makeup Artist Do?
There are endless opportunities for creative and business-minded makeup artists!
For example, some MUAs eventually go on to open their own salons, product lines, or schools. Others may become freelance educators; traveling the world to teach other aspiring makeup artists the ropes. Moreover, others may focus on writing books or creating online courses about makeup artistry.
In terms of additional services makeup artistry experts can offer, you also have plenty of room to get flexible and creative! For instance, tons of MUAs also get professionally trained to offer complementary beauty services to clients as well. Hair styling, skincare consulting, and fashion styling are 3 popular examples.
As you can imagine, the possibilities are truly endless. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re passionate about and what you want to achieve in your career!
What Are The Best Careers in The Makeup Industry?
Okay, now that we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions, let’s move on to the main event: the top 16 careers in makeup artistry!
Career #1: Bridal Makeup Artistry
As a bridal makeup artist, you’ll have the opportunity to help make a bride’s big day even more special! On average, bridal MUAs earn anywhere from $50-$100+ per hour. Not to mention, if you land some high-paying gigs, you could easily make upwards of $500 per job!
In as little as 2-6 months, become a master of bridal makeup applications by taking QC’s wildly popular Master Makeup Artistry certification course!
Career #2: Special Effects Makeup
This is a great career path for MUAs who are looking to get involved in the film, TV, and/or theater industry. Special effects makeup artists (often referred to as SFX MUAs) are responsible for creating various types of looks, ranging from natural beauty enhancements to full-blown character makeovers.
Salary-wise, SFX MUAs typically make between $150-$500+ per day, depending on the project. For example, those working on big-budget films or TV shows will obviously earn more than those working on local theater productions.
Fun Fact: QC Makeup Academy also offers a Special FX Makeup Course. In just a few short months, you can become an International Special FX Makeup Professional (ISMP)!
Career #3: Airbrush Makeup
Airbrush makeup is a type of makeup that’s applied using an airbrush gun. Unlike traditional makeup, which is applied with brushes, sponges, or even fingers, airbrush makeup is sprayed onto the skin using compressed air.
Airbrush makeup has a number of benefits; namely, that it’s gentle on the skin and provides a natural, long-lasting finish.
Like with any other career in makeup artistry, your exact rate will depend on a number of factors (i.e. experience level, location, etc.). Typically, though, an airbrush MUA, you can expect to earn anywhere from $50-$250+ per hour.
Earn your Airbrush Makeup Workshop certificate in as little as 2-6 months by enrolling in QC’s Airbrush Makeup Workshop today (and receive a FREE airbrush starter kit as part of your course)!
Career #4: Global Beauty Makeup
Another profitable way to take your makeup artistry career to the next level is by getting international specialization training – thereby allowing you to work on clients from all over the world!
There are a number of ways to become a global makeup artist. One option is to take QC’s Global Beauty Workshop. This 4-unit program will teach you everything from working with various skin tones and eye shapes, to cultural beauty standards, cultural weddings, and henna application.
Specializing in global beauty can boost your salary significantly, as global MUAs typically earn $75-$300+ per hour.
Career #5: Makeup for Film and Television
As a makeup artist for film and television, you will be responsible for creating looks for actors, actresses, and other on-screen talent. This could involve anything from natural beauty enhancements to special effects makeup. Makeup artists working in film and television typically earn $100-$500+ per day, depending on the project!
Career #6: Makeup for Theater
Makeup artists working in theater typically earn $50-$150+ per performance, depending on the size and scope of the production. For example, those working on Broadway shows will obviously earn more than those working on local community theater productions.
Career #7: Personal Shopping for Makeup
As a personal shopper for makeup, you will be responsible for helping your clients find the perfect cosmetics and skincare products to suit their needs. This could involve anything from giving advice on what products to buy, to physically going out and buying the products on behalf of your client.
Personal shoppers typically earn a commission on the sales they make, which means your exact rate will vary depending on how much you sell. However, personal shoppers for makeup typically earn $25-$50+ per hour.
Career #8: Celebrity Makeup Artist
A celebrity makeup artist is responsible for creating looks for, you guessed it, celebrities! This could involve anything from natural beauty enhancement to special effects makeup. The types of jobs you do could range from red carpet events, to on-set makeup, to everyday applications.
Considered to be one of the top makeup careers, celebrity makeup artists typically earn $500-$1000+ per day, depending on the project.
Did you know that QC Makeup Academy executive makeup instructor, Nathan Johnson, is also a renowned celebrity MUA? Learn more about his lucrative career here!
Career #9: Makeup Vlogger/Blogger
A makeup vlogger/blogger is someone who creates and posts videos or written content about all things beauty. This could involve anything from product reviews to tutorials to hauls. Popular platforms for makeup content creators include YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
As a makeup vlogger, you can expect to earn $50-$500+ per video, depending on your following and engagement rates. As a blogger, you can expect to earn $50-$200+ per article, again depending on your following and engagement rates. You can also earn even more by outsourcing your video and/or writing skills to third parties as well!
Career #10: Virtual Makeup Artist
A virtual makeup artist is essentially the exact same thing as a regular MUA – except that your services are provided online. Over the past couple years, beauty professionals from all around the world were able to stay in business by transferring their makeup services to the digital world. Even post-pandemic, it’s still a useful (and profitable) career move, because virtual services allow you to expand your client reach and work with people from all over.
Salary-wise, you could charge clients in a similar ballpark as you would your in-person services. Obviously, personal judgement will need to come into play. For instance, say you’re teaching a client how to apply their own makeup virtually. You may charge them a tiny bit less than you would if you were physically applying the makeup yourself – and using more of your own products – during an in-person appointment.
Career #11: Makeup Educator
As a makeup educator, you will be responsible for teaching others about the art and science of makeup. This could involve anything from giving lectures to leading workshops and classes. Makeup educators typically earn $50-$100+ per hour, depending on the type of work they’re doing.
For example, those who are teaching at a prestigious university will obviously earn more than those who are leading a small workshop at their local community center. That said, of course, if you market yourself correctly and amass a huge following (such as through social media, for example), you could run independent makeup classes and still rake in the big bucks!
Career #12: Makeup Department Head
A makeup department head is responsible for managing the entire makeup team on a film or television set. This includes hiring and firing makeup artists, managing budgets, and ensuring that the final product meets the required standards.
As a makeup department head, you can expect to earn $500-$2000+ per day, depending on the project. Of course, your exact rate will also depend on your experience and reputation.
Career #13: Mobile Makeup Artistry
Mobile makeup artistry is a service that allows clients to have a makeup artist come to them, rather than the other way around. This could involve anything from wedding parties to on-location photo shoots.
As a mobile makeup artist, you can expect to earn $50-$250+ per hour, depending on the type of work you’re doing. For example, if you’re working on a wedding party, you may earn less per hour than if you were doing an on-location photo shoot.
Of course, the amount of money you make will also depend on how many clients you’re able to take on. If you’re only able to work with 1 or 2 clients per week, you’re not going to make as much money as someone who’s able to work with 5 or 6 clients per week.
Career #14: Freelance Makeup Artist
A freelance makeup artist is someone who works independently, rather than for a specific company. This means that you’re responsible for finding your own clients and managing your own schedule.
As a freelance MUA, you can expect to earn $50-$250+ per hour, depending on the type of work you’re doing. For example, if you’re working on a wedding party, you may earn less per hour than if you were doing an on-location photo shoot.
Of course, the amount of money you make will also depend on how many clients you’re able to take on. If you’re only able to work part-time, you’re understandably not going to make as much money as someone who’s able to work full-time.
Career #15: Makeup Artist for a Cosmetic Company
As a makeup artist for a cosmetic company, you will be responsible for representing the brand and promoting its products. This could involve anything from giving demonstrations to working on photoshoots.
As a makeup artist for a cosmetic company, you can possibly earn a salary ranging anywhere from $40,000-$100,000+. Of course, this will depend on the size of the company and your level of experience. Oh, and did we mention that in many cases, you’ll also be given access to free products?
Talk about an added bonus!
Career #16: Editorial Makeup Artistry
Finally, we have editorial makeup artistry. This is a type of work that’s often seen in magazines, fashion shows, and other similar settings. As an editorial makeup artist, you’ll be responsible for creating looks that are both creative and visually appealing. More often than not, the overall look is meant to help sell a specific brand and/or product.
Editorial MUAs typically earn $50-$250+ per hour, depending on the type of work they’re doing. For example, if you’re working on a high-scale fashion show, you may earn less per hour than if you were doing a photoshoot for a magazine.
Of course, the amount of money you make will also depend on how many clients you’re able to take on. Again, if you’re only able to work part-time, you’re probably not going to make as much money as someone who’s able to do editorial makeup on a full-time basis.
QC Makeup Academy’s Pro Makeup Workshop will prepare you to take the editorial world of makeup artistry by storm! Learn all about this 3-unit course here.
Phew! That was a lot of information. But we hope that by now, you have a better understanding of the various career paths available to you as a makeup artist.
Which one sounds the most appealing to you? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading! 💕