Make-up artist

Make-up artists apply make-up and style hair for people appearing on camera or in front of a live audience.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 irregular

You could work

freelance / self-employed away from home

How to become a make-up artist

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training providers


You could study for a qualification in media make-up, like:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Make-up
  • Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up
  • Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

More information


You could get into this job through a beauty therapy intermediate apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information


You could start out as a trainee or assistant to a make-up team, or find casual work doing make-up and hair for extras in crowd scenes.

Other routes

You can do specialist make-up and beauty courses through private beauty schools. 

More information

Career tips

Practical experience can help build a portfolio of work to show employers. You could get this through:

  • amateur theatre
  • student film, theatre and photography projects
  • charity or student fashion shows
  • working with established make-up artists and photographers

Professional and industry bodies

You can join National Association of Screen Make-up and Hair Artists for professional development.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in make-up on stage and screen from Creative Choices and ScreenSkills.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • researching and designing make-up and hairstyles
  • working to production designers' notes and instructions
  • tidying and styling hair
  • using special effects make-up
  • taking notes and photos for reference
  • being on set to redo make-up and hair
  • removing make-up and keeping wigs and hairpieces in good condition

Working environment

You could work at a tv studio, in a theatre, on a film set or at a film studio.

Career path and progression

With experience or specialist skills, you could progress to chief make-up artist or make-up designer.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Beauty Therapy Apprentice Level 3

  • Wage : £117.00 Weekly
  • Location: Stockport SK12 1RD

Level 2 Beauty Therapy Apprentice

  • Wage : £124.80 Weekly
  • Location: Stoke-On-Trent ST1 1JD

Courses In England

Level 2 Diploma in Hair and Media Make Up

  • Provider: Hull College
  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: Harrogate

L2 Diploma in Hair and Beauty (City and Guilds)

  • Provider: Lambeth College
  • Start date: 09 September 2019
  • Location: London

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900 or use webchat

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No