Different Career Paths in the Makeup Industry

This is a great place to start as you often don’t need experience in make-up, just a genuine interest in make-up and a passion to learn. Many make-up companies offer excellent training programmes so you will also be able to develop your career through the company. There are also many location choices as to where you can work so you may be able to work close to home avoiding long commutes.

Some of the bonuses of working in this area include inclusive training and career development, great product allowance and discounts which will really help build up your kit,  and experience of making up many different faces which will really help to build your skills. The downside of retail is that the hours are becoming increasingly long to cover late night working and bank holidays and also the pay isn’t particularly high. It is however a really good place to start out and increase your knowledge of make-up artistry.


Bridal make-up artists are increasingly becoming more in demand. More brides are realising the benefit of having their make-up applied professionally for their big day.

A bridal make-up artist not only has to be skilled in perfecting beautiful make up that works for photos and in the flesh but also has to be a steady, calming influence on the day so personality is key when working with brides.

If you can stay calm under pressure, not react to high emotions and keep a situation in control then this may be for you! You do need to be patient with a good understanding of what your bride is looking for when she describes her perfect makeup look and not get flustered when she changes her mind. This is an area of working that is really rewarding too; there’s something very special about being involved in someone’s most important day.

Be prepared that some brides will be more demanding than other. This may mean that you will be in communication with them from the trial all through to the wedding, so an accommodating, friendly persona is a must.

The bonus of all this work is that bridal is well paid, allowing you to set your price if you are freelance. There is lots of work that never falters even during a recession, and your work is often booked-in years ahead. You get to see some stunning locations and get great photos for your website too!

However, this isn’t an area that suits all so consider if it suits your personality before embarking on that wedding fayre! The main disadvantage of bridal is that you will be working most weekends during the summer, if you are successful of course! However it is truly rewarding when you see the smile on your brides face when she sees your work!


TV can be a fast-paced, exciting environment to work in. You can be working on anything from recording a period drama, live rolling news channels to a fun entertainment show with a studio audience.

You may be making up one person all day to a whole crowd of extras depending on the show. Your skills will need to include hair as only very large productions will employ a separate hairdresser so make sure to include hair styling, wig dressing and even cutting in your initial training if this is an area that interests you.

You may get to work with many well-known celebrities to actors just starting out so it’s very varied who you may meet at work. For most TV work you do need to gain experience so getting a break can be difficult if you don’t have the relevant work experience.

Days can vary from being exciting and busy to other days that can go very slowly with lots of waiting around between filming, so being patient is a must. Hours can be very long and include overnight working, weekends and bank holidays including Christmas and New Year so dedication is a must!

In return pay can be reasonably good with pay rates dependent on your level of experience and expertise and of course working with varied people and working with a huge range of make-up and hairstyles.


Working in film may require you to work on short films, anything from 15-30 minutes of film or a full length feature. The length of time filming required will be dependent on how long the film is so expect working on a short film to be between 1-2 weeks and a feature up to many months! You may work on the whole production or be involved occasionally and be booked a day at a time.

Your skills may need to be varied to encompass many different types of hair, wigs and make-up from straight character make-up to SFX. 

Filming may also involve long periods away from home, overnight shoots, filming in very unglamorous locations and extremely long days. However you may also get to work in amazing locations with great crews and nothing beats seeing your name on the credits at the end of a film!

Pay is slightly more than TV but again dependent on your role.


‘’The smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd’’ as the saying goes! Live theatre is an amazing medium to work in, nothing beats hearing the crowd react to the characters that you have helped create.

A theatre make-up artist needs to be adaptable to cope with lots of changes throughout the show, fast; to get the changes done in time and overall calm as working on a live show can be nerve wracking. There’s no time to adjust things if they are wrong as each performer needs to be on cue on stage and you mustn’t delay them. You may need to be on the side of the stage ready to rush on to do changes behind the scenery discreetly in minutes with a steady hand! An expertise in wigs is generally a requirement to work in theatre as you will mostly be expected to look after both wigs and make up.

It’s an exciting, fast paced area to work in but can be exhausting with some days involving 2 shows and generally 6 day weeks, although working in a team will mean slightly less days on in any one week. The rate of pay can also be less than TV and Film.


The fashion world encompasses fashion shows, editorial work, advertising and music videos. It can be a very glamorous industry working with top photographers and fashion models but you need to work hard to break into this area of make-up.

It can take many years to establish yourself as a credible fashion make-up artist doing lots of test shoots for portfolio building and earning no money. However once you do get a break you could expect to work in amazing locations, collaborate with big makeup brands, work with well-known names in the business and enjoy a good level of pay. Fashion is one of the better paid industries for make-up artists.

However as with every industry there are downsides too! Long hours, demanding clients and hectic schedules can all be expected.


Commercial make up artistry tends to be in areas similar to fashion and can include TV and editorial advertising: working with well-known make up brands as a make-up artist spokesperson for their brand and catalogue work.

Hours can be very long as budgets are closely worked to and shoots can be long to get as much shot as possible without over running as commercial work can be expensive to shoot. You may also have to travel to locations too which can increase the length of your day however pay is very good in this area and you will get some great work to show on your website.


Teaching can be a choice for many experienced make-up artists as not only is it very rewarding sharing your skills and expertise with the next generation of make-up artist but it’s one of the few areas of work with relatively normal hours!

There are plenty of opportunities in this area as there are now many different make up schools to choose from where you can teach as well as colleges. To teach in college however you will need the relevant higher education teaching qualification but this can be gained while you teach.

You can also chose to teach in specialised areas of expertise if you have the correct qualifications and experience. Courses can involve SFX, Wigs and Prosthetics as well as make-up courses for Fashion, Theatre, TV and Advertising.

Pay will depend on your level of experience and qualifications if you already have them.

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