Make-up Artist - How to enter the job
Kaitoi Whakapaipai KanohiAlternative titles
Make-up artists apply make-up to people to enhance or alter their appearance.
Make-up artists usually earn
$29K-$50K per year
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay for make-up artists varies depending on where they work, the number of clients they have, whether they are self-employed, and their level of experience.
- As an apprentice or assistant make-up artist, you can expect to earn minimum wage or a little more.
- For make-up artists at salons or cosmetic companies, pay usually ranges from about minimum wage to about $50,000 a year.
- Make-up artists with a number of years' experience working in film can earn $500-$2,500 a week.
Source: The Make-up School.
What you will do
Make-up artists may do some or all of the following:
- consult with clients, actors, producers or directors about the required look
- apply make-up to clients for weddings, balls and other special occasions
- apply make-up to presenters or actors for film, television and stage productions
- style people's hair
- write make-up sheets that explain what make-up look should be applied
- read scripts and research the period/era of the film or television productions
- cast facial and body moulds for costumes – known as prosthetics
- sell cosmetics
- keep make-up brushes clean
- give make-up lessons.
Skills and knowledge
Make-up artists need to have:
- technical, artistic and practical knowledge about how to apply make-up
- an understanding of different make-up products
- knowledge of the latest make-up styles and colours
- some basic hair styling skills (though many employers prefer qualified hairdressers)
- an understanding of camera and lighting techniques
- research skills, if working on productions set in a certain era, as they need to get the make-up right.
Business, marketing and sales skills are important for make-up artists who are self-employed.
- usually work irregular hours or evenings if they work for film/theatre/television companies, and regular hours at salons or cosmetic stores
- usually work in dressing rooms at television/film studios and theatres, in hairdressing salons and in cosmetic stores
- may travel locally to clients' homes, and nationally or internationally to work on films, television programmes or fashion photo shoots
- may have to work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions when working on location.
What's the job really like?
Aliana McDaniel - Make-up Artist
A continual learning experience
Aliana McDaniel’s career as a make-up artist has taken her on photo shoots around the world.
“It’s a job that involves lots of training. It’s like an apprenticeship, and I think to become a really good make-up artist takes years because make-up changes and evolves all the time with fashion.”
More to make-up than just colour
Aliana adds that there’s way more to being a make-up artist than applying make-up and understanding colour.
“You have to know the bones of the face and how to work with light and dark concepts. You actually work with the bone structure to enhance natural beauty.
“A designer might say to me, ‘I want a really smudgy black-eyed look for my model’. But if they use a model that’s got smaller eyes, then a hard core look is not necessarily going to suit them. So you need to be able to recognise that at the beginning and suggest a compromise.”
There are no specific requirements for becoming a make-up artist, but some employers may prefer you to have a qualification from a polytechnic or a make-up school.
Make-up artists gain many skills on the job. They need to keep up to date with trends in the fashion industry and the latest products through reading fashion and make-up magazines, and watching movies and theatre productions.
There are no specific secondary education requirements, but visual art, media studies or drama and theatre studies are useful.
Make-up artists need to be:
- able to relate well to people
- good listeners
- good at time management.
Useful experience for make-up artists includes:
- work as a beauty therapist or beautician
- cosmetic counter work
- working backstage at amateur theatre productions
- hairdressing work
- pharmacy work.
Creating a portfolio that shows your ideas and style can also help get employers to notice you.
Find out more about training
- Hairdressing Industry Training Organisation
- (04) 499 1180 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.hito.org.nz
- The Association of Beauty Therapists of New Zealand Inc
- (09) 918 6347 - email@example.com - www.beautynz.org.nz
- The Makeup School
- 09 376 6660 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.the makeupschool.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Increasing demand for experienced make-up artists
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of make-up artists increased by about 12% between 2010 and 2012. This gradual growth is expected to continue over the long term. This is because of demand for experienced, qualified make-up artists to work on:
- short films
- music videos
- magazine shoots
- beauty expos
- corporate videos
- big-budget films like The Hobbit.
Strong competition for entry-level positions
In spite of the increase in demand for make-up artists, competition for entry-level positions is high. You can improve your chances of getting a job by:
- training at a make-up school which provides internships and job placements
- having additional skills such as hairstyling, hairdressing, or beauty therapy
- doing volunteer work with an established make-up artist, or approaching organisations such as schools and drama schools to work on the make up for their productions
- being a member of industry organisations such as WIFT (Women in Film and Television)
- making the most of opportunities to network, for example reading industry magazines such as On Film, to keep up to date with events that you can attend
- being proactive in marketing yourself by, for example, introducing yourself to costume designers and handing out your business card.
Types of employers varied
Make-up artists can work for a wide range of employers including:
- beauty and hairdressing salons
- television, film, magazine and theatre companies
- department stores as make up consultants for leading make-up brands
- fashion design companies and magazines (to work on fashion shoots).
Some make-up artists may work for mobile businesses that operate in clients’ homes and many do freelance work or run their own businesses.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Jones, G, co-director, The Make-up School, Careers New Zealand interview, May 2013.
- The Makeup School website, accessed May 2013, (www.themakeupschool.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Make-up artists may specialise in:
- hairdressing and wig application
- prosthetics – casting facial and body moulds for costumes
- body painting.
Last updated 28 January 2016