Beauty & makeup

Make-up artist

Make-up artists apply make-up and style hair for people appearing on camera or in front of a live audience.

Annual Salary

Variable

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

1%
Future employment

There will be 1% more Make-up artist jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • researching and designing make-up and hairstyles
  • working to production designers' notes and instructions
  • tidying and styling hair
  • using special effects make-up
  • taking notes and photos for reference
  • being on set to redo make-up and hair
  • removing make-up and keeping wigs and hairpieces in good condition

You’ll work closely with production designers, costume designers, camera and lighting crew, and performers.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training providers

College

You could study for a qualification in media make-up, like:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Make-up
  • Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up
  • Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a beauty therapy intermediate apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship

Work

You could start out as a trainee or assistant to a make-up team, or find casual work doing make-up and hair for extras in crowd scenes.

Further information

You can do specialist make-up and beauty courses through private beauty schools. 

Career tips

Practical experience can help build a portfolio of work to show employers. You could get this through:

  • amateur theatre
  • student film, theatre and photography projects
  • charity or student fashion shows
  • working with established make-up artists and photographers

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the National Association of Screen Make-up and Hair for professional development.

You can find out more about careers in make-up on stage and screen from Creative Choices and ScreenSkills.

Variable

You’ll usually work on a freelance basis and be paid a fee for each contract. 

Rates will depend on the type of production you’re working on and what you can negotiate.

Variable

Long and irregular hours are common. You may start in the early morning before filming begins, or work in the evenings for live TV, theatre or concerts.

You’ll work in TV or film studios, theatres, or in temporary buildings and vehicles on location. 



You may need to travel and stay away from home regularly, sometimes for long periods.



You’ll need to build up your own make-up kit and take it to each job.

With experience or specialist skills, you could progress to chief make-up artist or make-up designer.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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