Special Effects Make-Up Artist Employment Info

A special effects make-up artist works with live models or structures in the entertainment industry, applying make-up and/or prosthetics for a theatrical effect. Read on to learn about the training, skills, salary info and employment outlook to determine whether this occupation is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for Special Effects Make-Up Artists

A special effects make-up artist uses wigs, make-up, prosthetics and other tools to create the desired look on a live performer or special effects prop. This line of work is typically found in the entertainment industry, so special effects make-up artists may be hired by theaters, film and television productions, theme parks, cruise ships or avant-garde fashion designers. The job of a special effects make-up artist can be as simple as aging the face of a young actor or as complicated as creating a never-before-seen alien monster.

Education No specific degree required; a cosmetology or theater arts program may be helpful
Job Skills Artistic skills, keen eye for color, networking skills
Median Salary (2018)* $64,250 (theatrical and performance make-up artists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% growth (hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While completing courses in a cosmetology school or learning the application of theatrical make-up in a theater arts program may be helpful to the aspiring special effects make-up artist, no specific degree is required to work in the field. Many special effects make-up artists begin their careers by taking low-paying jobs as interns or assistants and training with more experienced artists.

Required Skills

Whether or not they are formally trained, special effects make-up artists must be artistically inclined with a keen eye for the use of color. One of the most important tools a special effects make-up artist owns is his or her personality. The ability to network and maintain positive working relationships with other professionals in the field can make the difference between having a successful career or failing.

Career and Economic Outlook

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the median yearly wage for theatrical and performance make-up artists was $64,250. The larger field of cosmetology, which includes barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists, was expected to see faster-than-average job growth of 13% from 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

Some similar career options include:

Skincare Specialist

Also known as estheticians, these specialists complete cosmetology or esthetician programs. Their job duties include removing unwanted facial hair, evaluating skin, recommending skincare products and teaching clients how to apply make-up. In 2018, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $31,290 for skincare specialists, who could expect faster-than-average employment growth of 14% from 2016-2026.

Manicurist or Pedicurist

After completing either a cosmetology or nail technician program, these professionals take care of clients' toenails and fingernails through cleaning, shaping, trimming and polishing. They also moisturize and massage feet and hands. According to the BLS, in 2017, these workers earned a median salary of $23,230 and could expect a faster-than-average increase in available positions of 13% from 2016-2026.

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