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Make up artist

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Summary of occupation

Make-up artists design and apply makeup to actors, presenters and models, and for special occasions such as bridal parties. They may also work for cosmetic companies applying makeup, advising customers about the most suitable products and selling products. They may be involved in preparing skin for makeup, applying makeup, giving advice about makeup, maintaining makeup during photo/film shoots, and liaising with hairdressers about hairstyles and makeup. They may also use makeup to produce special effects such as ageing or injuries (bruises and scars) or for specialised characters in a movie. They may need to work with wigs, false beards or masks and artificial body parts to create the required look for a character.

ANZSCO description: Designs and applies make up to actors, presenters and other performing artists.
Alternative names: Makeup Stylist
Specialisations: Bridal Makeup Artist, Fashion Show Makeup Artist, Movie Makeup Artist
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A makeup artist needs:

  • to be creative and artistic
  • to understand bone structure
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • a good eye for colour
  • good communication skills
  • to be able to work under pressure.
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Working conditions

Make-up artists usually work indoors and are often required to work long hours with super early starts, in what can be stressful situations. They may also be required to travel to different locations for photo shoots, movie productions or to clients’ homes. Many make-up artists are self-employed. It may be necessary to move interstate or overseas to gain experience and earn a higher income in this competitive industry.

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Salary details

On average, make-up artists, classified under performing arts technicians, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a make-up artist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

Many make-up artists are self-employed. Earnings for small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, and the level of demand for their services.

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Tools and technologies

Make-up artists need to be creative and have a good understanding about different bone structures. They also need to be proficient with a wide variety of make-up products as well as wigs, beards, masks and prosthetics (artificial body parts) to help enable them create a  required appearance.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a make-up artist without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in make-up and skin care, or beauty services.

The Certificate II in Retail Make-Up and Skin Care and the Certificate III in Beauty Services are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The retail cosmetic assistant and beautician (make-up artist) traineeships usually take 12 to 18 months to complete. The retail cosmetic assistant traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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