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Career Profile: Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance

Apply makeup to performers to reflect period, setting, and situation of their role.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 3,100 people employed as makeup artists, theatrical and performance in the United States. The median annual salary is $106,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $38,010 per year and senior employees earn approximately $157,680 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Duplicate work precisely to replicate characters' appearances on a daily basis.
  • Cleanse and tone the skin to prepare it for makeup application.
  • Assess performers' skin type to ensure that makeup will not cause break-outs or skin irritations.
  • Study production information, such as character descriptions, period settings, and situations, to determine makeup requirements.
  • Alter or maintain makeup during productions as necessary to compensate for lighting changes or to achieve continuity of effect.
  • Analyze a script, noting events that affect each character's appearance, so that plans can be made for each scene.
  • Confer with stage or motion picture officials and performers to determine desired effects.
  • Establish budgets, and work within budgetary limits.
  • Write makeup sheets and take photos to document specific looks and the products used to achieve the looks.
  • Provide performers with makeup removal assistance after performances have been completed.
  • Requisition or acquire needed materials for special effects, including wigs, beards, and special cosmetics.
  • Evaluate environmental characteristics, such as venue size and lighting plans, to determine makeup requirements.
  • Attach prostheses to performers and apply makeup to create special features or effects, such as scars, aging, or illness.
  • Apply makeup to enhance or alter the appearance of people appearing in productions such as movies.
  • Select desired makeup shades from stock, or mix oil, grease, and coloring to achieve specific color effects.
  • Examine sketches, photographs, and plaster models to obtain desired character image depiction.
  • Advise hairdressers on the hairstyles required for character parts.
  • Design rubber or plastic prostheses that can be used to change performers' appearances.
  • Demonstrate products to clients, and provide instruction in makeup application.
  • Create character drawings or models, based upon independent research, to augment period production files.
  • Wash and reset wigs.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
3,100
Annual Openings:
500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
37%
Annual Salary Range:
$38,010 - $157,680
Education Requirements:
Some college