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How Much Does a Private Makeup Artist Make?

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Makeup artistry can be a lucrative career, depending on the path you take. Industry and location significantly impact your earning opportunities. While the entertainment industry can be very lucrative, you can still make a decent living as a makeup artist in your community.

Choose Your Industry

As an independent makeup artist, the motion picture industry offers you the highest average hourly rate, paying about $40.00 per hour. You can work in this industry as a contractor and receive pay by the hour or on a per-project basis. Amusement parks and live theater also offer good earning potential. These positions may be seasonal, per project or year round. The average hourly rate for such positions runs about $20 per hour. As a personal care makeup artist, you can work with individual customers in your area, providing personalized makeup services in their homes. This industry has the lowest average hourly rate, paying around $15.00 per hour. You can increase these earnings by offering wedding packages, partnering with spas and securing local film, television or theater production opportunities.

Location, Location, Location

The location you choose is a key factor in your salary as an independent makeup artist. Cities with a dominant film and television industry presence offer higher earning opportunities. Production companies contract makeup artists to work for the duration of projects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York, California and Florida provide the highest pay rates for makeup artists. New York artists earn the highest hourly rate, at approximately $44.00 per hour. California is the next highest at $34.00 per hour and Florida makeup artists generally make about $22.00 per hour.

No Business Like Show Business

The entertainment business is competitive, and as a makeup artist who desires to work in this industry, using an agent can increase your opportunities and salary. A makeup artist agent works to find and secure projects for you. As a client, you compensate the agent by paying her about 20 percent of your earnings. In exchange, you benefit from the agent's networking connections and on-going access to higher paying opportunities. If you choose to pursue an agent, have a portfolio of your work ready. Before and after pictures, and how-to videos, can showcase your talent to potential agents.

Permanent Makeup Artistry

Permanent makeup offers artists an opportunity to greatly increase their earning potential. The artist essentially tattoos makeup onto the client. These makeup artists can charge more due to specialization and skill level. There is a minimal amount of training involved, as some states only requiring a two-day instructional course. The permanent makeup artist also must consider the start-up costs of purchasing necessary equipment. However, once the business is up and running, these artists can earn between $125.00 and $250.00 per hour. Some procedures are done on a flat-fee basis, with prices ranging from $400.00 to $900.00, depending on the area of the face and the type of work done.