How much do makeup artists earn?

Updated February 21, 2017

Make-up artists apply make-up to performers’ faces so they will look good in stage, TV and movie productions. Most undergo training in postsecondary schools of cosmetology, which typically require a high school diploma for admission.


Make-up artists make a base hourly rate of £7.10 to £16.60, with hourly tips of 60p to 80p, and hourly overtime of £9.50 to £22.3. This is as of January 2011, according to the PayScale Report. Annual bonuses of up to £665 can boost total yearly compensation to £16,505 to £37,071.


Experience can grant access to a wider client base and increase salaries, though for make-up artists those increases are not consistent. At one to four years, states PayScale, they make £6.30 to £12.70 per hour, but at five to nine years, pay tops out at its widest and highest ranges from £9.20 to £31.9. At 10 to 19 years, compensation drops to a range of £6.60 to £18.20, and at 20 years or more, it reaches £12.80 to £24.8.


The BLS states that the industry that hires the most make-up artists is the motion picture and video industry, with 18 per cent of the 1,930 positions. Professionals here take into account the effect of close-ups as well as artificial to natural lighting. They also make the highest salaries at £26.8 per hour or £55,854 per year. Performing arts companies hire the second-highest number of make-up artists, who must compensate for stage lighting and the distances of the viewing audience by exaggerating the make-up. They earn £17.60 per hour or £36,770 per year.


The BLS reveals that the location of the job can make a difference in compensation, with London offering the highest concentration. The highest-paying jobs are also in London, home of high-paying entertainment industries such as motion pictures.

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About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.