How to Become a Thriving Makeup Artist: The Complete Guide

Around the globe, skilled makeup artists are in high demand for wedding days, fashion shows and movie sets. If merging your love for makeup with your creative talents excites you, studying makeup artistry can offer you the freedom and flexibility to enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding career.

From choosing the right training course to exploring salaries, career options and expert tips, this guide covers everything you need to know to become a professional makeup artist. 

A day in the life of a makeup artist

Have you ever imagined a typical day for a makeup artist? Whether you’re preparing clients for a special event or working behind the scenes at a photoshoot, here’s what you can usually expect:

  • Consulting with clients to understand their makeup preferences and unique needs.
  • Creating designs and applying makeup for weddings, formals, fashion shows and movie shoots, depending on your niche. 
  • Using a variety of makeup products and tools to achieve the perfect look and master your skills. 
  • Collaborating with other artists, creatives and stakeholders to keep projects on track.  
  • Maintaining a clean and organised workspace or portable makeup kit to work efficiently and effectively. 
  • Keeping up with the latest makeup trends and techniques to stay current and competitive. #creativemakeup #makeuptrends
  • Capturing photos of your creations to build your professional portfolio and share across social media. 
  • Collaborating with photographers, fashion designers and event managers. 
  • Building and maintaining client and network relationships. 
  • Handling bookings, invoices, marketing and other business tasks to keep the business engine running. 

How to become a professional makeup artist

You don’t need formal qualifications to work as a makeup artist (MUA) in Australia. However, studying with a reputable training organisation will set you up for success across a broad range of industry roles and niche areas.

Start by thinking about your career goals and what lights your fire. Are you a creative person who loves to work in a fast-paced, action-packed environment? A career in the media industry might suit you best. If you prefer a more intimate setting, working as a makeup artist for weddings and other special occasions might be a better fit. 

To get the most from your studies, choose a course that includes hands-on training in foundation makeup design—both theoretical and practical—and special event makeup training. If you find a course that covers these aspects and offers skills training in your area of interest, you’re on the right track.

Do you dream of working with celebrities in film and theatre?
Choose a course that offers special effects (SPFX) training. Learn to work with prosthetics, create wounds and scars, and enhance facial features.

Is the runway calling you?
To break into the fashion industry, find a course that provides a solid understanding of makeup design and application for professional photography.

Prefer freelance life? 
If you want to freelance, business planning is essential. Successful freelancers are skilled in their craft and savvy business owners who spend time on business development and marketing.

Career options for makeup artists

The beauty industry is thriving across Australia, with demand for makeup artists projected to grow by 12.2% in the next five years. As far as job security goes, there’s plenty of work to go around. 

Training to become a qualified makeup artist can open doors to many exciting and rewarding industry areas including:

  • Special events: Create stunning looks for weddings, formals and other special occasions.
  • Theatre and performance: Apply makeup for live performances and theatre productions.
  • Film and TV: Work on set to create character looks for movies and television.
  • Special effects (SPFX): Design and apply prosthetics and special effects makeup.
  • Cosmetic brand representation: Promote and demonstrate products for a makeup brand.
  • Fashion: Create makeup looks for runway shows and fashion shoots.
  • Freelance: Work independently and build your own client base.
  • Social media: Use your skills to promote products and looks on social media.
  • Consulting: Offer personalised makeup services for individuals.

How to choose a makeup artistry course

With so many makeup courses available across Australia, how do you choose the right one?

A comprehensive course, like the Demi International Diploma of Screen and Media [CUA51020], will give you a broad set of makeup skills to pursue a career in film, tv, theatre or fashion and teach you how to thrive as a freelance makeup artist. Tuition fees include a range of professional makeup kits and products to practise your new skills, plus the chance to build your portfolio during quarterly fun-filled, professional photo shoots.

This course will give you practical skills and knowledge across key areas of makeup artistry, including:

  • Makeup fundamentals
  • Makeup design and planning for weddings, formals and special events
  • Special effects makeup (SPFX) for film and TV – exploring wounds, scars, facial features and prosthetics
  • Creative hair and makeup for performances and productions, from traditional to modern-day styling 
  • Makeup design for professional photography 
  • Design brief creation, collaboration and application
  • Freelance makeup artist business planning and marketing 

If you’re unsure exactly what to study and want to keep your options open, consider a dual qualification like the Certificate III Beauty Services with Makeup Speciality [SHB30121 & SHB30221]. This course will teach you the foundations of makeup artistry and beauty therapy so you can offer a diverse range of services, including makeup, tanning and other beauty treatments. 

How long does it take to become a makeup artist?

The time required to become a professional makeup artist depends on where you choose to study. Some courses can be completed in as little as 12 weeks, while more comprehensive options may take up to 12 months, including practical placement or on-the-job training. 

At Demi International, you can fast-track your career by completing your Diploma of Screen and Media in one year. This course is available at all six Demi campuses and requires students to be on campus one day per week, with an additional 12 hours per week of online, self-supported study. Plus, we’re Australia’s Small Training Provider of the Year 2023, so you know you’re in good hands. 

Pathways to higher learning

The Diploma of Screen and Media [CUA51020] unlocks credits and pathways to higher learning, including a Bachelor of Business. Add a Certificate III in Hairdressing for a power-packed dual qualification.

Finding a job in makeup artistry

Once you’re qualified, a whole world of makeup opportunities is open to you. Check popular career platforms like Seek and Indeed for current openings, reach out to your network or consider starting your own business if you prefer to work independently. 

Demi International supports students in exploring potential employment prospects through industry guest presentations and our academy job board.

Makeup artist salary

The average salary for a makeup artist in Australia is around $90,000 annually or approximately $46.00 per hour. However, this can vary depending on your education level, experience and area of work. High-demand roles and specialised fields can offer annual salaries exceeding $100,000. 

Makeup artist skills 

Here are the top 10 skills you will need as a professional, successful makeup artist:

  1. Great Communication Good communication is essential when dealing with clients. Listening and responding respectfully helps clients feel comfortable. Being approachable and honest is key to managing expectations, addressing concerns, and handling challenges.
  2. Artistic Flair A natural flair for design and creativity is crucial. You’ll use creativity to produce showstopping looks, build your portfolio, and market your services.
  3. Dexterity Your hands and eyes are your most important tools. Applying makeup quickly and skillfully requires good hand-eye coordination, which improves with practice.
  4. Time Management Good time management skills are essential. You’ll often work on a tight schedule with little time between clients. Planning ahead, working efficiently, and prioritising tasks keep projects flowing smoothly.
  5. Curiosity: A curiosity for beauty industry trends and fashion helps you design looks, stay ahead, and discover new opportunities.
  6. Attention to Detail Attention to detail sets exceptional makeup artists apart. Every stroke, palette choice, and product selection impacts the final result, so stay focused each step of the way.
  7. Theoretical Knowledge Understanding colour theory, product chemistry, skincare routines, and facial anatomy helps you choose products and create the perfect look for each client.
  8. Empathy Empathy and flexibility are vital for adapting to individual style preferences and concerns. Clients with sensitive skin and other issues should feel comfortable discussing their needs with you. Understanding and respect lead to successful, collaborative outcomes.
  9. Stamina You’ll be on your feet for long periods, so good quality shoes, comfortable clothes, and stamina are essential.
  10. Business Skills Basic business skills help you handle billing, marketing, and administration.

Tips for aspiring makeup artists 

Before embarking on your journey to becoming a makeup artist, keep these tips in mind:

  • To build your portfolio, keep it current and showcase a variety of looks. 
  • Regular hands-on training is essential; practice frequently to hone your skills. 
  • Be prepared for demanding work, as long hours and unpredictable schedules are common. 
  • Seeking mentorship from experienced professionals can provide valuable insights and guidance. 
  • Staying reliable, with punctuality and professionalism, is key to building a good reputation. 
  • Know your value by setting your prices confidently and promoting your services effectively.

Brush up on something new today

Chat with one of our friendly Course Advisors to explore courses, start dates, payment options and enrolment eligibility at Queensland’s favourite makeup school.

Picture of Melissa Christie

Melissa Christie

Melissa is one of our expert makeup trainers at Demi International. She has trained in the UK, Italy and Sydney and has had an extensive career working as a consultant and MUA for Estee Lauder, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford and La Mer.

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