Makeup Artists - Theatrical and Performance

Choosing a career path in life requires information. Understanding and knowing the requirements of a job is extremely important to understanding the responsibilities you will be required to fulfill. Here is some information from the United States Department of Labor Statistics on the job outlook for Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance.

Nature of the Work

Theatrical and performance makeup artists apply makeup to enhance performing artists’ appearances for movie, television, or stage performances. They may be self-employed or work directly for a theater, television station, or production company.

Makeup -Theatrical
Credit: by rbiquez

Education and Training

A high school diploma or GED is required for some personal appearance workers in some States. In addition, most States require that barbers and cosmetologists complete a program in a State-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Programs in hairstyling, skin care, and other personal appearance services can be found in both high schools and in public or private postsecondary vocational schools.

Full-time programs in barbering and cosmetology usually last 9 months or more and may lead to an associate degree, but training for manicurists and pedicurists and skin care specialists requires significantly less time. Shampooers generally do not need formal training. Most professionals take advanced courses in hairstyling or other personal appearance services to keep up with the latest trends. They also may take courses in sales and marketing.

Most theatrical and performance makeup artists undergo postsecondary training at a school of cosmetology or other specialized institute. Such programs may last several months to a year, and may require a high school diploma for admission. Depending on the State and specific work being performed, makeup artists who also style hair usually require a State license. A background or courses in art and design may be helpful.


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 All States require barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers to be licensed, with the exception of shampooers. Qualifications for a license vary by State, but generally a person must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 16 years old, and have graduated from a State-licensed barber or cosmetology school. After graduating from a State approved training program, students take a State licensing examination. The exam consists of a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral examination. In many States, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license, and vice versa, and a few States combine the two licenses. Most States require separate licensing examinations for manicurists, pedicurists, and skin care specialists. A fee is usually required upon application for a license, and periodic license renewals may be necessary.

Some States have reciprocity agreements that allow licensed barbers and cosmetologists to obtain a license in another State without additional formal training, but such agreements are uncommon. Consequently, persons who wish to work in a particular State should review the laws of that State before entering a training program.


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Other Qualifications

Successful personal appearance workers should have an understanding of fashion, art, and technical design. They also must keep a neat personal appearance and a clean work area. Interpersonal skills, image, and attitude play an important role in career success. As client retention and retail sales become an increasingly important part of salons' revenue, the ability to be an effective salesperson becomes ever more vital for salon workers. Some cosmetology schools consider “people skills” to be such an integral part of the job that they require coursework in that area. Business skills are important for those who plan to operate their own salons.

Job Prospects

Theatrical and performance makeup artists will face keen competition. Entry-level workers should expect few opportunities, while those with experience will have more work. Job openings will be greatest in areas with many media production companies, particularly Los Angeles and New York City.


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Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Copyright Information: "The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a Federal government agency and everything that we publish, both in hard copy and electronically, is in the public domain, except for previously copyrighted photographs and illustrations. You are free to use our public domain material without specific permission, although we do ask that you cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the source."

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