What Is a Make-Up Technician?

Learn about the types of make-up you could apply as a make-up technician. Read more about the job duties of these beauty professionals, and review the training and licensure requirements. Find out how much make-up technicians typically earn in a year. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Make-Up Technician?

Make-up technicians, also commonly known as make-up artists, work in a number of different environments. They often work with filmmakers or other artists in order to create specific appearances in individuals for productions. Sometimes they work with personal clients to provide a certain look that is appropriate for a given event. Other responsibilities include but are not limited to determining the best approaches based on client needs, using training to accentuate a desired feature, and replicating an exact look on a day-to-day basis. Many are also business owners so communication skills are very important. Review the table below for more information on entering this field.

Degree Required Certificate, Associate's
Education Field of Study Cosmetology
Key Responsibilities Work with clients to understand what they want, do makeup before special events like weddings or proms or for theatrical productions
Licensure Requirements State licensure required
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% (for theatrical make-up artists); 10% (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2015)* $53,230 (for theatrical make-up artists); $23,710 (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education and Training Might I Need?

As a make-up technician, your job duties will often overlap with those of a general cosmetologist or hairdresser. You will find that most courses for aspiring make-up technicians can be found within general certificate and associate's degree programs in cosmetology. Such programs will also prepare you to gain licensure and find a position in the beauty industry. While enrolled in an Associate of Science in Cosmetology program, you learn the basics of hair care, skin care, make-up application, safety and sanitation, and customer service. Some programs may also provide you with a basic understanding of business administration and salon management.

If you are interested in becoming a theatrical make-up technician, you might choose to complete a specialized certificate program in that field. Many such programs are offered by for-profit institutions. They are designed to teach you how to apply theatrical make-up, film and television make-up, fashion photography make-up and special effects make-up.

What Are the Job Duties of a Make-up Technician?

As a make-up technician or make-up artist, your main responsibility is to apply make-up to clients to improve their personal appearance. You might work as a licensed cosmetologist in a beauty salon or spa. In such a position, you may be contracted to apply make-up to women's faces before weddings, proms or other special events. You work with your clients to determine what type of make-up will work best for their skin type and coloring. You will then select the appropriate make-up and apply it directly to their faces.

You might also work as a theatrical or dramatic make-up technician. In such a position, you are responsible for applying make-up to actresses and actors before they get in front of a camera. You may also be required to provide make-up as part of a production's special effects. For example, you may need to use make-up to make an actor's face appear bruised or cut in a particular scene.

What Licensure is Available?

All cosmetologists and personal appearance workers are required to gain state licensure. As a make-up technician, you are typically required to pass a general state licensing examination related to cosmetology. To be eligible to take the examination, you must complete a state-approved cosmetology training program and be at least 16 years of age. Once you pass the examination, you will be licensed to work in a beauty salon as a make-up technician or other type of personal appearance worker.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), theatrical make-up artists held over 3,600 positions in the United States in 2015 and earned a median salary of $53,230. The BLS lumps other make-up technicians into the same field as hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists, as these positions often overlap in the personal appearance industry. Such professionals held more than 656,400 jobs in 2015 and made a median annual salary of about $23,710 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Manicurists and pedicurists use their training to help maintain, clean, and shape the fingernails and toenails of their clients. Skincare specialists clean the face and body and advise clients about how to best enhance their appearance with products and techniques. Both professions require a similar skill set and only a postsecondary non-degree award.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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