So, you’re at the start of your makeup artist career, but how do you map out the future? Read our guide to the different career paths an MUA can take, depending on the area you’d like to specialise in or the kind of work you want to do.
Freelancing vs Employment
First off you need to choose between going it alone as a freelance artist or being employed by a company/salon. We’ve listed the pros and cons of each type for you to consider:
Be Your Own Boss – You can work with who you want when you want. Freelancers have the freedom to tailor their working hours and accept jobs only when they want/need to. This way, you can build up a personal clientele of people you’d like to work with.
Move Around – Without the constraints of a 9-5 job, you have the freedom to change locations and move around when you please. Although it may be wise to stay where you’ve built up a loyal client base, you still always have the option to try something new.
Keep the Profits – Besides expenses like your kit and travel costs, the money you earn from freelance work goes directly into your pocket, which can make it quite lucrative. A freelancer can charge anywhere from £25 to over £100 depending on their experience level, clientele and location.
Stressful – Freelancing is like running your own business. It comes with various stresses such as time management, pricing your services and finding customers. When putting a price on your services, you have to take into account time spent liaising with the client, time and money spent on travel and the service itself. Without a solid business plan, you could lose money.
Unsociable Hours – While we mentioned that you have the freedom to pick your hours, this is only to a certain extent. If you want to build a profitable service, then you may have to work unsociable hours. Some clients will want a makeover early morning or late at night, so you have to be committed to switching those hours up!
Building a Reputation – Advertising is the best way to get your name out there, whether that be through paid or social media. Either way, these activities take time and money, so building a reputation is another business process you have to factor into your schedule.
Established – When you work for an existing brand/company, it’s easier to get clients as you’re already attached to an established name. This is an excellent opportunity to network and get into higher circles so that you can progress in your makeup artist career quickly. You also already have a location to work in, so there’s no need to rent out a salon.
Social – Working with a team will give you a sense of security, and you can build close relationships with colleagues who share your passion.
Wage Security – When you work for a company, your hours and pay are for more secure than when looking for work as a freelancer. However, you can always build up freelance work in your spare time to get the benefit of job security and extra income.
Restricted – If you work for a particular brand, you’ll probably have to use their products, giving you less freedom to try new things. You’ll also be restricted to one sector of makeup and have fewer opportunities to move around.
What Career Paths Can You Take?
If you love creating edgy and over the top looks, or have a real flair for realistic body makeup, then a special effects makeup artist career is perfect for you.
Special effects artists typically work in film, television or theatre, to prepare actors for their roles. Using prosthetics, you could be creating anything from a bruised eye to an alien, so the career is very varied. Due to the complexity of looks, special effects artists usually complete a training course to practice, learn techniques and build a portfolio.
A special effects artist can expect to work long hours, from creating looks to giving touch-ups throughout the day. They’re also used at the costume design stage to discuss the practicality of the makeup and how long it takes to apply, so tv/film crews can prepare.
If you enjoy a fast-paced and varied working environment, then building a makeup artist career in the special effects sector may be the perfect route for you.
Creating natural, glowy makeup looks for a bride’s special day, requires talent and the ability to handle a significant amount of responsibility.
It’s a fulfilling job as you’ll always be a part of your client’s wedding day and their makeup is something they’ll look at and remember forever. But, that also means you have to be confident enough to get it right! You want to steer clear of bridezilla meltdowns, or at best, know how to deal with them.
A lot of clients look for someone who can do both hair and makeup, so it may be a good idea to do an extra qualification in hair styling. However, it’s not a legal requirement.
Different brides will have different requests; some may want the classic look while others may want to go a little edgier. Therefore, you must have the skills to adapt to each client. This way, you can build up a portfolio of different looks. That being said, bridal makeup isn’t a very progressive route, and you can find yourself being stuck doing the same looks.
A completely different route to go down, becoming a makeup teacher allows you to break free of the repetitive routine of a day-in-day-out makeup artist.
To become a makeup teacher, you need to get a teaching qualification on top of your beauty qualification. This is now easier than ever to get your hands on with Posh Look’s online teacher training academy. With an online course, you can study and get qualified from the comfort of your own home! This flexibility means you can carry on with your current work, be that salon or freelance, while studying. Once you have your qualification, you can either start a teaching academy or join an existing one!
Being a Makeup teacher is a fulfilling role as you get to see your students make progress and begin their careers as a result of your help. It’s also a great way to gain more client work as you can position yourself as an industry expert when advertising your services.
Teaching is also a source of extra income as you are more qualified and have scope to progress and earn more. Whereas a makeup artist can only ever reach a certain wage, depending on their client base.
If you’ve been in the makeup industry for a few years and think you know a thing or two about the best products and techniques, you could try your hand at beauty blogging.
If you’re successful, you could be working for some of the biggest publications, or if it’s more casual, you could try blogging alongside doing makeup. Either way, you get to write about the thing you’re passionate about, so who wouldn’t want to try that?
Remember, this isn’t as easy as it sounds – not only do you need to have excellent makeup skills, but you also need to be confident, articulate and a good communicator. If you’re creating videos, you’ll need to learn how to edit and film. If you’re writing for a magazine, you may need to have a journalism qualification and a portfolio of other work.
Media makeup artists must be determined and dedicated. It can take years to build a reputation in this industry and even then you have to work long hours and be willing to travel a lot.
Each day will be different, and you’ll work with lots of different teams, so you must be adaptable and enjoy a challenge. If you end up working for top actors/models, your social skills will also come into play to keep the client happy.
Work in a Salon
Working in a salon is a great way to secure work and build your client base. You’d probably offer glam makeup most of the time so it could get a little repetitive. While in a salon, you’d be likely to expand into other areas such as beauty therapy, as people wouldn’t want makeovers at 9 am on a Tuesday.
Learning to teach alongside salon work would also be an excellent way to switch things up and improve skills such as communication and leadership.