The television production industry has a current market value of $46.8 billion. A lot of jobs revolve around it – being a movie makeup artist is one way to work in this industry. But before you think about the movie makeup artist salary, it would be best to understand what your job description would be.
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What Do Movie Makeup Artists Do?
A movie makeup artist is a professional who devises and applies theatrical makeup designs for actresses and actors who appear in films or on television. The intricacy of the makeup designs will depend on the character and production. However, a good movie makeup artist can create many looks that span a wide range of genres and periods.
To become a successful makeup artist, you should have the following qualifications and skills:
- You should attend a makeup cosmetology school or obtain alternative relevant training that meets the criteria for your location. For example, if you intend to specialize in special effects, you may need to understand how to apply prosthetics or use foam latex.
- You must be licensed by meeting the state-specific licensing criteria, if any exist.
- You need to learn about television production and what is required from makeup artists within your chosen sector. For example, an actor or actress going for an interview may require understated makeup compared to when they are in character in a film.
- You should work on yourself and those within your social circle to gain makeup application experience. You can also volunteer to do the makeup for local TV and school productions in your area.
- Your networking skills must be excellent because getting jobs is about who you know in the TV industry.
- You must learn to be assertive and friendly so you can introduce yourself to industry people who matter and ask for a chance to prove yourself.
- You should be teachable. There are nuances to makeup artistry that only time and experience can help you understand. If you are not willing to learn from those around you, your skills will be limited.
- You must be patient since you may end up dealing with famous and demanding TV personalities.
- Ensure you are organized so you can find your makeup fast when emergencies arise.
- Your hand-eye coordination should be excellent so you don’t make many mistakes during makeup applications.
- You must be creative and able to think outside the box to create designs that are unique and suitable for unusual characters.
Do Makeup Artists Make Good Money?
A movie makeup artist salary is subject to many factors, and your location will affect your salary. In states where the TV and film industry is thriving, such as California and New York, you may get paid more. Also, if you live in cities with a higher cost of living, your wages will be higher to cover your expenses.
The production company you work with also determines your salary. Companies with excellent financing can afford to pay everyone more. But low-budget TV production companies will offer lower salaries to the entire crew. And if you get employed in a different sector, the demand for your services in that particular industry will affect your wages.
How long you work also affects your salary. If you work full-time, you will be paid more than someone who works part-time. Also, if you are willing to work overtime, you will likely earn more in the end. In addition, if you are a freelance movie makeup artist, your salary depends on what you can negotiate.
If you have a unique skill set, do your job better than everybody else and are loved by most people, you may end up earning more. You are more likely to be recommended, which would increase the demand for your services. That means you can charge more.
Joining a union costs money. However, unions are responsible for negotiating working conditions for their members. So, if you join a union, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), your salary is likely to be higher than your non-unionized counterparts.
Read More: What Is Basic and Projected Salary?
The Movie Makeup Artist Salary Breakdown
The average movie makeup artist salary is $111,950 per year or $53.82 per hour. But this range only applies to those in the motion picture and video industry.
If you consider all industries in which a television makeup artist could work, the national annual mean wage goes down to $99,990 a year or $48.07 per hour.
A further data breakdown shows that those in the 10th percentile tend to earn very low salaries of $38,010 per year or $18.27 per hour. Those in the 25th percentile earn $63,220 per year or $30.40 per hour.
For makeup artists within the 50th and 75th percentiles, the annual wage ranges from $106,920 to $132,530 a year or $51.40 to $63.72 per hour. But the top-tier makeup artists within the 90th percentile will earn at least $157,680 per year or $75.81 per hour.
Generally, the various stated factors will influence your average annual wage in the end.
For example, if you are a television makeup artist employed by a performing arts company, your annual average salary may decrease to $67,650. But if you work in the TV industry in California or New York, your average salary could increase to $112,380 or $122,970, respectively. And those working in the District of Columbia also earn high wages of about $110,850.
Do your research concerning the average movie makeup artist salary range specific to your experience, locale and industry before negotiating. Otherwise, you may end up making much less than your peers.
- IBISWorld: Television Production in the US - Market Size 2005–2027
- WikiHow: How to Become a Film Makeup Artist
- Indeed: How To Become a Makeup Artist for Films
- IATSE.Net: Join the Union Behind Entertainment.
- BLS.Gov: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 39-5091 Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance
I hold a BS in Computer Science and have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.