Career Prospects

Qualifying as a makeup artist can open doors into the worlds of pro bridal makeup, theatre, film, television and fashion, so the possibilities are endless!

If you want to break into the TV and film industry, be aware that you are usually expected to be qualified in hairdressing as well as makeup. Celebrity makeup artists are usually freelance, but can earn good money if they are successful.

Not all professional makeup artists work in the showbiz industry – you may choose to specialise in bridal makeup or work in a beauty salon.

To be taken seriously as a professional makeup artist, you will need to be qualified and experienced. First, choose a reputable training school that offers first-class teaching from expert tutors. You can choose from a wide range of courses that will equip you with the relevant skills to become a makeup artist – from one day taster courses to intensive training packages.

Complete beginners may wish to start off with a short introductory course to learn the basics and then proceed to more advanced courses that specialise in Special Effects, Glamour, Black or Asian makeup.

Networking is vital to build up contacts and discover new opportunities. Start building up a portfolio of your work to show off to potential employers. Set up a website with an online gallery to showcase your work and shout about your previous work experiences.

Most importantly – keep practicing, and don’t give up on your dreams!

Make-up artists physically prepare individuals for appearances in front of cameras or an audience. These individuals include models, high-profile individuals who may be making speeches, film stars, and members of the public who wish to learn more about make-up. The flawless faces that we see on television on a daily basis are the finished products of work undertaken by talented make-up artists. These talented artists are equipped with skills that can transform the physical appearance of an individual and provide them with the confidence to appear in front of a camera or a live audience. Other clients demand a slightly different kind of work to be performed. These individuals include those who need to be made to look as if they have landed on earth from another planet, or perhaps from another era, as well as the numerous extras who appear on hospital dramas on a weekly basis and need to be adorned with fake wounds. Make-up artists also provide members of the public with lessons and tutorials, although this is a slightly less common feature of their role. During these sessions, which may be relatively expensive, individuals are taught techniques and introduced to new ranges of make-up which suit their particular needs. It may come as no surprise to reveal that most make-up artists are women. However, many men do work in this role and find the creative aspect of it particularly rewarding.


Finding accurate salaries for make-up artists is difficult since the figures vary wildly depending upon the reputation of the individual make-up artist and the sector of the industry in which they are involved. As a rough guide, make-up artists without a famous reputation and with only a few years’ worth of experience, who are working on a high-profile movie set, can expect to earn just over £180 per day. At the other end of this spectrum, individuals who have made a name for themselves in the industry and are working on television commercials can expect to earn over £500 per day. Preparing models for fashion shows can be very lucrative, with experienced individuals often offered approximately £3,000 per day for their services.

Working Conditions

Make-up artists work irregular hours and may go for long periods without work. Shift work is a common feature of the job and weekend and evening work is also part of the role. Make-up artists often need to work late at night and will not be able to leave until a project is completed, no matter how long this may take. They spend a lot of time in studios and sets, so working environments and conditions differ on a daily basis. Studios may be relatively comfortable but set locations may be freezing cold. Make-up artists spend a lot of time on their feet, so physical fitness is essential. Travel throughout the country and to foreign countries is common, since many large film or television projects use sets located in various places. As a result of the long hours and importance of the role to a project, the job can be relatively stressful. However, most make-up artists very much enjoy their jobs and find their work rewarding.


Many make-up artists are self-employed and work on a freelance basis. Major employers of these individuals include independent television companies and large film studios. However, members of the public are also a major employer. For instance, individuals who wish make-up artists to apply their make-up for weddings or other important events will employ that individual for a day. Other make-up artists work for agencies who will organise work for their employees.

Career Progression

Make-up artists working for agencies can expect to work through the ranks if they perform well. For instance, they may progress from being a junior make-up artist to being a chief make-up artist. There are opportunities to specialise in a specific area of make-up artistry, such as historical make-up. Make-up artists who want a completely new challenge may decide to move into industries including costume design and beauty therapy.