Makeup artists get to enjoy the delighted look on someone’s face after enhancing their natural beauty, giving someone a new look, and even applying special makeup and prosthetics to help create characters for film and TV. Another perk of the job is that being a professional makeup artist can be lucrative.
As with most careers, a makeup artist’s salary will range depending on their education, location, and experience. This means you’ll likely have to attend a makeup institute to gain the skills and know-how necessary for a career in this field. If you graduate from an academy and can show proof that you’ve completed a diploma program, you’re on the right path.
To get a better idea of how much makeup artists make, you need to understand the national average salary for workers in these positions, the different types of makeup artistry you can pursue, and how you can maximize your profits as an artist.
Makeup Artist Salary Range
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – in 2020, Makeup artists earn a median annual salary of $48.07 an hour or $99,990 annually. This far exceeds what experts say a single person needs to live comfortably in the US.
Since location is one component of how much a makeup artist can make, it’s worth a look to see where you should consider setting up shop.
Makeup Artists Salaries By State
The 10 states that pay makeup artists the most include:
- Hawaii: $26.01 per hour;
- Massachusetts: $26.00 per hour;
- Rhode Island: $25.11 per hour;
- North Dakota: $24.64 per hour;
- Alaska: $24.50 per hour;
- Nevada: $24.30 per hour;
- Washington: $24.10 per hour;
- South Dakota: $23.92 per hour;
- Oregon: $23.66 per hour;
- New York: $23.53 per hour.
The 10 states that pay makeup artists the lowest include:
- Mississippi: $17.97 per hour;
- Florida: $18.02 per hour;
- New Mexico: $18.62 an hour;
- Alabama: $18.67 per hour;
- North Carolina: $18.79 per hour;
- Iowa: $18.91 per hour;
- Georgia: $19.12 per hour;
- Louisiana: $19.16 per hour;
- Kansas: $19.18 per hour;
- Utah: $19.36 per hour.
All of the top 10 states that pay makeup artists the most pay above the national average. In fact, 11 states pay makeup artists above the national average for their work. For the states that pay the average or below, it is important to note that there are different types of makeup artists — some which may specialize in their craft to earn more than the average makeup artist generally earns.
Makeup Artist Career Outlook
As mentioned above, different types of makeup artists will earn different wages. There are numerous sectors in which a makeup artist can practice; some fields require more customer service work, while others may be more involved with prosthetics and special effects. Makeup artists need to understand that they may earn more or less money depending on the scope and level of involvement of their work.
What Salaries Do Different Types of Makeup Artists Earn?
The wide range of options for a makeup artist also creates various income opportunities associated with different career paths. To determine why some make more than others, take a look at the following common makeup artist career paths, their job requirements, and associated salaries.
Film & Television Makeup Artists
Film and TV makeup artists may be among the highest-paid in this field. These professionals will need to sketch makeup looks for actors, coordinate with directors and lighting technicians, understand shooting conditions and nuances to visualize how makeup will look on their actors, and estimate time frames for getting characters all done up. Additionally, film and TV makeup artists will need to apply waterproof and long-lasting cosmetics, cover scars and tattoos, apply special effects makeup including prosthetics and masks, and they may even style hair.
They will need to work long hours and be available for travel. Artists in this field can make about $15,000 to $92,000 a year.
Performance Makeup Artists
Theatrical performance makeup artists may provide similar services to those on TV and in film and will be working with similar people, albeit in a stage environment. They will need to apply makeup that depicts the story’s setting and prosthetics for several actors. These makeup artists can make $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
Bridal Makeup Artists
Bridal makeup artists will provide makeup services to the bride and bridal parties. These professionals will work closely with brides to make them look and feel the way they want to, provide makeup that fits the wedding theme, and do anything else related to makeup that might accommodate the bride on her big day. Bridal makeup artists must be available for consultations and scheduling specific dates. These makeup artists can make $30,000 to $55,000 a year.
A cosmetologist works to beautify the hair, nails, and skin. While makeup application is only one aspect of being a cosmetologist, they also might provide services such as haircutting and coloring, skincare, and manicures and pedicures among other treatments. Cosmetologists may work in a one-on-one setting, but can also be employed at salons, spas, and resorts. These professionals can earn $20,000 to $30,000 a year.
An aesthetician focuses on skincare and products to improve the skin. This involves helping customers find the best products for their skin types, selling products such as lotions and creams, and continually educating themselves on safety training and skincare. Aestheticians can work at salons, spas, medical offices, and can even work in plastic surgery centers. An aesthetician can make $25,000 to $42,000 a year.
Personal Care Services
A personal skincare specialist will work one-on-one with clients to evaluate their skin condition and appearance, discuss a treatment plan to improve skin quality, refer the skincare products and cleansers, and teach them how to apply makeup. Skincare specialists may also remove unwanted hair using wax or lasers. Additionally, they may give facials, head and neck massages, and full-body treatments. A skincare specialist can make $23,000 to $44,000 a year.
Spas and Salon Makeup Artists
These professionals will provide consultations and makeup application services in spas and salons. Spa and salon makeup artists will not have to find clients on their own, but will have to work with a wide variety of clients in a number of different ways; for example, these makeup artists will have to assess guests needs and apply makeup services accordingly, including selecting the proper product for the client’s skin type to avoid allergic reactions. Spa and salon makeup artists can earn $23,000 to $62,000 a year.
Funeral Makeup Artists
A mortuary makeup artist is usually a licensed cosmetologist who performs services to prepare the deceased for viewing, usually at a funeral. These professionals may work with chemicals to keep up the appearance of the deceased and may disguise scarring and disfigurement. A funeral makeup artist can make $30,000 to $48,000 a year.
Beauty Counter Makeup Artists
A beauty counter makeup artist will provide makeovers, recommend products, and advise and consult customers on everything and all things makeup. However, one notable difference is that beauty counter makeup artists will also need to possess strong retail skills. Communication and a mind for sales will help to entice a customer, apply makeup that enhances their look, and sell it to them. A retail makeup artist can make from $20,000 to $44,000 a year.
Makeup Artist Educators
Makeup educators will need a strong knowledge of makeup application styles, skincare, and safety in order to teach it to other people who apply for beauty school. Additionally, communication and organizational skills will be needed to schedule classes and engage students. Makeup instructors can make from $34,000 to $52,000 a year.
Celebrity Makeup Artist
Through education, experience, and a good portfolio, your skills may catch the eye of a celebrity — and they may hire you to do their makeup and enhance their features. Many high-profile celebrities work with makeup artists for magazine cover shoots or trips down the red carpet. Celebrity makeup artists can make between $45,000 to $85,000 a year.
Ways to Increase a Makeup Artist Salary
It may be the case that you don’t live in the highest-paying location for a makeup artist, or even that you do and would just like to make a little more. If you don’t want to move, but still want to make more as a makeup artist, you have several options. To make more in the makeup artistry field you can:
- Evaluate your skills: Examining your skills will shed light on your blind spots and can help you improve your craft. You might discover different techniques or areas you are spending too much time on, and free up time for more clients. It also may prompt you to adjust your pricing for your makeup services.
- Additional training: Taking additional makeup courses and assistantships can expand your horizons. Learning new makeup techniques and applications can help you make the shift toward a higher-paying makeup artistry career.
- Networking: Using social media to connect with artists and clients, keeping apprised of new opportunities, and going to tradeshows and events can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. Networking can help you collaborate with other artists, grow your list of clientele, and learn new cutting edge makeup techniques to make you stand out.
- Improve/Update your portfolio: Many creative professionals have portfolios (writers, photographers, artists), and if you don’t have one, you should create one. Creating (or updating) your portfolio can help show your most recent work off to clients and other makeup artists, and let them know your contact information and where they can reach you — especially if you use the proper social media channels.
Keep in mind that makeup artists may be eligible for benefits, overtime pay, and many more options that can make the job more valuable.