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Makeup Artist Opportunities for Advancement

Makeup artists use cosmetics to supplement their clients' natural appearance. An experienced makeup artist can look forward to several avenues of advancement in the beauty, healthcare, and education fields.

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Makeup Artist Career Options

Makeup artists enhance a client's natural beauty through the use of cosmetics. Generalists often find work at a salon or similar business, though some may build up a clientele that allows them to freelance their cosmetic talents. A makeup artist must be aware of a client's needs, taking into account possible allergic reactions and other issues with cosmetic products. Training is gained through postsecondary cosmetology programs, and most states require licensure to practice this profession. When it comes to advancement, there are several avenues a makeup artist can take. Four of these are examined here, including the skills and qualifications required for each.

Job Title Median Annual Salary Job Growth (2016-26)* Qualifications
Theatrical and Performance Makeup Artist $64,250 (2018)* 12% State cosmetology license; theatrical makeup experience
Beauty Therapist $44,500 (2019)** 14% (skincare specialist) Postsecondary certification; state license
Medical Aesthetician $43,149 (2019)** 14% (skincare specialist) Postsecondary certification; state accreditation
Cosmetology Instructor $53,120 (2018, Vocational education teachers, postsecondary)* 1% (Vocational education teachers, postsecondary) Postsecondary certificate; salon experience; possible instructor certificate

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Career Information

Theatrical and Performance Makeup Artist

One avenue of advancement for a makeup artist is to pursue a specialization. A theatrical and performance makeup artist works with stage managers, directors, and performers in order to enhance the overall costumes for a production. It is important for this makeup artist to be vigilant about details such as performer sensitivities and skin tone, the effect of stage lighting, and the tone of the overall performance. Theatrical and performance makeup artists are also in charge of attaching any artificial prosthesis to performers as the production demands. An ability to work within a designated budget and in collaboration with a wide range of people are vital skills for this professional. Experience in theater makeup and an active state cosmetology license are common requirements for this role.

Beauty Therapist

Another specialization that a makeup artist may consider is that of a beauty therapist. The role of a beauty therapist goes beyond the application of cosmetics. A calming manner and a skill at providing relaxing facial massages are two things that set a beauty therapist apart. This professional is also knowledgeable about skin types, facials, hair removal, and quality skin care, and is usually prepared to provide helpful recommendations to clients. A beauty therapist commonly finds work in businesses such as spas and salons. Remaining up-to-date on new cosmetic products and being able to sell these products are requirements for this job. An active cosmetology license is needed for anyone wishing to pursue this career.

Medical Aesthetician

A medical aesthetician (or esthetician) often works alongside healthcare professionals such as dermatologists or oncologists to help clients mitigate the side effects of medical therapy on the skin, particularly around the face. One aspect of this job is educating clients in the ways their specific therapy has changed their skin and how this change can be managed through moisturizers, safe cosmetics, and other means. Dietary recommendations may also fall within the scope of a medical aesthetician's role. A cheerful, encouraging demeanor and clear communication are essential for this job. Medical aestheticians gain training through a postsecondary nursing or vocational school, and most states require accreditation for employment.

Cosmetology Instructor

Experienced makeup artists who wish to pass on their skills and knowledge to aspiring cosmetologists may pursue a career as a cosmetology instructor. The ability to teach through hands-on learning, communicate clearly, and encourage students are important for this position. Cosmetology instructors find work in postsecondary vocational schools or community colleges. Their responsibilities include instruction on various cosmetology skills and customer service, student assessment, and detailed record keeping. An active cosmetology license and past salon experience are basic requirements for this position. Some employers may also require instructor certification.

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