Make-up Artist

    Industry: Hairdressing and Beauty

    Summary: Make-up artists apply make-up and style hair for performers on television, film or the stage. They also research and design make-up and hair styles and create special effects for dramatic productions.

    Average salary: The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:where you work the size of the company or organisation you work for the demand for the job.The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) lays down guidelines for pay rates for make-up artists working on different kinds of productions based on a ten-hour day. Recommended rates are: assistant £178 to £222, artist £206 to £257 and chief £268 to £289. These rates exclude holiday pay.

    The requirements

    • physical fitness
    • driving licence
    • communication skills
    • normal colour vision
    • creative skills
    • organisational
    • teamwork
    • manual dexterity
    • confidence
    • diplomatic
    • artistic
    • health and safety awareness
    • patience
    • remain calm under pressure
    • HNC
    • HND
    • Scottish Group Award / NC / ND
    • SVQ / NVQ Level 1/2/3
    • beauty therapy
    • Modern Apprentice
    • beauty therapy
    • hairdressing

    Read further information about this career



    Make-up Artist.

    The work

    You could be:

    • discussing with the producer, the director and the lighting manager what effect they want you to produce and buying supplies
    • doing straightforward make-up and hair tidying for television presenters and members of the public
    • applying full make-up and hair styling to actors appearing in plays and films
    • applying make-up for fashion models before photoshoots and shows
    • adding scars and bruises, preparing false beards and wigs or using plastic and latex to alter an actor's appearance
    • researching on the internet styles of past periods or other cultures and applying these to actors for historical or international dramas
    • keeping records and taking photos to make sure that make-up is consistent between film shoots
    • attending the set with the performers, standing by during scenes and touching up make-up between takes
    • cleaning equipment and keeping the premises tidy.


    • You work mostly indoors in dressing rooms, make-up departments, television studios or film sets.
    • You may also work outdoors on location in all weather conditions.
    • You do a lot of standing and bending while you work.
    • You have to work long and flexible hours, including evenings, weekends and public holidays.
    • You may work for two companies at once, leading on occasion to a working day stretching from 7.00am to 4.00am.
    • You might work on location, meaning you have to travel a lot and perhaps spend periods living away from home.

    Getting in

    • Most make-up artists first take either a relevant full time course or an apprenticeship or traineeship in hairdressing or beauty therapy.
    • There are full time courses in hairdressing and beauty therapy at various levels: National Certificates (NCs), Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs).
    • Several colleges offer an HND in Make-Up Artistry. Entry ranges from 1-2 Highers plus 3 subjects at Standard grade Credit Level or National 5 or relevant NC or HNC qualifications.
    • There are no formal requirements for entry to a hairdressing or beauty therapy apprenticeship, but employers may prefer applicants to have a group of subjects at Standard grade Credit Level or National 5.
    • Experience in make-up work for amateur dramatics or even for school or college plays is useful.
    • You need to gather practical experience and build up a good portfolio of work to show employers. Most work is gained through contacts in the industry.
    • A full driving licence is very useful and sometimes essential.
    • You should have good general health and stamina. You should also have normal colour vision.
    • People with allergies or sensitive skin may find that certain hair and make-up products cause skin irritation.
    There are jobs in fashion, editorial, theatre, television and in film and video production companies. Most make-up artists working in the UK are freelance and competition for jobs is intense.

    What does it take

    You need to have:

    • excellent knowledge of make-up and hair styles and techniques
    • good manual dexterity and a steady hand
    • a good understanding of skull anatomy and facial muscle structure
    • knowledge of relevant Health and Safety regulations and procedures.
    You need to be:
    • artistic and creative
    • confident, patient and diplomatic
    • able to work under pressure to meet deadlines
    • able to communicate naturally with everyone you work with
    • organised and able to plan ahead
    • able to work as part of a team, and alone.


    • You normally start a trainee level, working your way up to assistant level. It takes some years of solid work experience and learning before becoming a fully trained make-up artist.
    • The BBC Design trainee scheme offers aspiring designers a 12-month contract in a junior design role. The scheme is funded by Skillset. Check their website regularly for future opportunities.
    • The National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers (NASMAH) offers training courses for members to update their skills.

    More Information

    Most jobs for make-up artists are in or around London. Most Scottish make-up artists are based in Glasgow or Edinburgh and travel throughout the UK, and sometimes overseas. Look for vacancies in websites Mandy and Stagejobspro as well as in trade journals such as Broadcast and Stage, Screen and Radio Magazine.


    Habia (Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority)
    Oxford House Sixth Avenue Sky Business Park Robin Hood Airport Doncaster DN9 3GG
    Tel: 08452 306080

    National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers (NASMAH)
    91 Carlton Road Walton-on-Thames KT12 2DQ
    Tel: 020 8998 7494

    Creative Skillset Scotland
    Tel: 0141 222 2633
    tel2: 0808 100 8094
    Notes: Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for creative media (TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, facilities, publishing, advertising, fashion and textiles and photo imaging).

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