Make-Up Artists fall into the Strong Interest Inventory® Test Artistic Theme Code Category. The Strong Interest Inventory®, first released in 1927, has been refined over the better part of a century. It analyzes and categorizes careers based on the interests and preferences of people who tend to pursue them, and then assesses individuals’ attributes to help them find an ideal career. Careers in the Artistic Theme Code generally involve creating something in the workplace, from visual art to performances, and written documents to food. Individuals who score high in the Artistic Theme Code Category enjoy activities which give them a creative outlet, both in their vocational pursuits and in their personal lives.

Theatrical and performance Makeup Artists work closely alongside stage or motion picture officials, directors, costume designers, and performers to determine desired effects for visual makeup. They often work for films, musical productions, theatrical shows, television studios, and other venues for which a performer’s individual appearance needs to be altered to make a character come to life. Designing make up plans also involves reading the script closely and noting any events that may cause a physical change in character’s appearance. As they begin the design process, they may need to produce sketches, mock-ups, photographs, storyboards, etc.They need to procure the necessary materials for creating the desired effects, and must be able to design their operations within prescribed budgetary limitations. Once the visuals are designed, they must be able to implement them by applying makeup or prostheses to alter an actors appearance in films. They need to take into account lighting, skin tone, sensitivity to certain chemicals or other products, and other considerations that may alter an individual character’s makeup. They must be able to duplicate their efforts exactly across multiple days to maintain consistency of the character.

Makeup hardware and software may include air brushes, contact lenses of various colors, wigs and other costuming accessories, eyebrow and hair combs, standard makeup kits (including eye shadow brushes, fan brushes, round brushes, sponges, etc.), pencils and pencil sharpeners, and hair and hand sprayers. In addition, they may need palette or blending spatulas, knives and brushes, as well as mixing palettes for paint or ink. Many Makeup Artists also use graphics or photo software, including Adobe Photoshop, DatInf DigiMakeup, SavingFace, and others, to design and finalize their visions. Many also maintain their own brands on social media (Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs) and keep track of their own accounts (clearbooks, Intuit QuickBooks) and appointments. Mastery of social media, internet interfaces, web design interfaces (e.g., Google Sites, WordPress) and Microsoft Office are all essential for Makeup Artists.

Makeup Artist Salary and Career Info

Read about a Makeup Artist’s career including information such as a Makeup Artist’s salary, daily tasks and other career information.

Most Makeup Artists attend vocational school, though a college Bachelor or Masters Degree is rarely necessary for success. Considerate and confident personal and customer service, and a detailed talent and knowledge for the fine arts and design are by far the most important characteristics of a successful Makeup Artist. The ability to communicate quickly and clearly, as well as make confident decisions, often very quickly, is also highly valued. Makeup artists work closely with other team members, actors, directors, and so on, and need to be kind, compassionate, and flexible, and be able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances with ease. The ability to build close relationships is important because these connections often lead to additional jobs, not to mention a better experience, and therefore a more positive reputation. Physical dexterity and precision is essential for applying makeup and producing sketches and other images for presentation. Hand-arm steadiness, manual and finger dexterity, and near vision are of the utmost importance, as without any of these, an application session can go terribly wrong.

Nation-wide, a Makeup Artist’s Salary is, on average, $53,230 annually, though the top 30% in the country average $122,110 per year. Local theaters or television production companies pay makeup artists as low as $19,000. The most lucrative states are New York and California by a considerable margin, with Texas, Tennessee, and Florida also having averages above $30,000. Little data is available in the central or Midwestern United States, or in New England. While employment rates are expected to increase by 20% before 2024, this is only from 3,600 to 4,300 jobs, so the world of makeup design is still a highly competitive one.

Below are some employment trends for performance Makeup Artists:

  • Median Makeup Artist Salary: $25.59/hour; $53,230 annually
  • Employment: 4,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2014-2024): much faster than average (Greater Than 14%)
  • Projected job openings (2014-2024): 1,000
[Information retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections]


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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections