Make-up artist

Alternative titles for this job include Make-up designer

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), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, 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, or equivalent, 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 the National Association of Screen Make-up and Hair 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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Beauty Salon Apprentice

  • Wage : £168.75 Weekly
  • Location: Northwich CW9 5DY

Apprentice Beauty Therapist

  • Wage : £117.00 Weekly
  • Location: Southend-On-Sea SS1 3BG

Courses In England

VTCT Level 2 Diploma in Hair and Media Make-Up (QCF)

  • Start date: 10 September 2020
  • Location: WALTHAM FOREST

VTCT Level 2 Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing)

  • Start date: 02 January 2020
  • Location: Rotherham

JobsIn the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

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