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Make-Up Artist: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for make-up artists. Get the facts about education requirements, job outlook, licensure and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Does a Make-up Artist Do?

Make-up artists apply makeup to clients in different settings, such as theaters, studios and salons. As a make-up artist, you'll need to be creative and have good time-management and customer service skills. You'll also need good communication skills, and may need additional business skills if you're self-employed. You'll be able to choose the right makeup for a client, and may do additional creation of special effects if you're employed in a theatrical setting.

The table below offers general career information for those considering a career as a make-up artist:

Education Required High school diploma and state-approved cosmetology program or standalone make-up classes
Key Skills Creativity, time-management, physical stamina, customer service
Licensure All states require licensure for cosmetologists
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% (for all theatrical and performance make-up artists)*
Median Salary (2018) $64,250 (for all theatrical and performance make-up artists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Perform as a Make-Up Artist?

Your main duty will be to apply makeup to clients. Based on a person's face shape, skin tone and facial features, you'll choose the appropriate colors and tools to bring out certain characteristics. You may work for a film and theater company, television studio, salon or spa. You might even apply makeup at retail stores. On occasion, you might apply makeup to reflect a specific setting or for a special event, such as a wedding or a magazine spread.

What Is the Occupational Outlook?

A job outlook figure for make-up artists in general is unavailable, but employment of theatrical and performance make-up artists is expected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individuals looking to enter this profession are expected to face keen competition, and openings are likely to go to the most experienced and skilled workers.

What Kind of Education Prerequisites Do I Need to Meet?

Make-up artists are typically listed in the same job category as cosmetologists, which need to be licensed after completing an approved training program. However, some jobs for make-up artists don't require a formal education, and you can find make-up courses and programs through beauty and art schools. If you're interested in theatrical and performance makeup, you might want to take a specialized cosmetology program in make-up and special effects. These programs generally require only a high school diploma for admission and involve courses in prosthetics, make-up effects, molding and casting, airbrush illustration and cosmetic makeup.

Your career options typically will be better if you have experience, which you can obtain by working with performers in high school or college performances. You also can gain experience through an internship, which may be included as part of a cosmetology program. In order to apply makeup in salons and spas, you'll need to be state licensed in cosmetology or esthetics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Cosmetologists require similar training and a license. They cut clients' hair, apply makeup and provide scalp and facial treatments. Skincare specialists also need to complete an approved training program and obtain a license. Those in this profession treat clients' skin in settings that include salons or medical offices.