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Make-up Artist

Kaitoi Whakapaipai Kanohi

Alternative titles for this job

Make-up artists apply make-up to enhance or alter people's appearances.


Pay rates for make-up artists vary depending on their ability, how often they work, and what type of work they do.

Source: careers.govt.nz research and The Makeup School, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a make-up artist are average for those wanting to enter the role, but good for those with experience.


Pay for make-up artists varies depending on what type of work they do, and their training and experience.

Pay for make-up artists working in retail businesses

  • Make-up artists working for hair and beauty salons or retail stores usually earn between $18 and $30 an hour. They may also receive bonuses, commissions and staff discounts.

Pay for make-up artists working in film and television

Make-up artists working in film and television usually work 50-hour weeks during filming.

  • Trainee make-up artists may start on minimum wage, with pay increasing as they gain skills and experience.
  • Experienced make-up artists can earn between $36 and $54 an hour.
  • Make-up designers (who create the overall make-up look for films or other productions) may earn between $40 and $80 an hour, depending on their experience and the size of the production.

Make-up artists may receive time and a half, or double time, for extra hours they work during filming.

Pay for freelance make-up artists

Income for freelance make-up artists who work in film, television and commercials, or run their own business, depends on how often they work and the success of their business.

Source: careers.govt.nz research, 2018; and The Makeup School, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Make-up artists may do some or all of the following:

  • consult with clients about the look they want
  • read scripts and research the background to historic film or television productions
  • write make-up sheets explaining what make-up look should be applied
  • put make-up on clients and style their hair for special occasions and performances
  • make facial and body moulds (prosthetics) for actors to wear
  • sell cosmetics
  • create social media make-up demos, or give make-up lessons in person.

Skills and knowledge

Make-up artists need to have:

  • an understanding of make-up, the latest styles and colours, and how to apply them
  • basic hair styling skills 
  • an understanding of camera and lighting techniques
  • sales skills
  • research skills, so they can make sure they use the correct make-up style for actors' needs.

Make-up artists who are self-employed also need business, marketing and social media skills.

Working conditions

Make-up artists:

  • may work long or irregular hours, including early mornings, weekends and evenings if they are working in television or film, or normal retail hours if they work in a store
  • work in hair and beauty salons, stores, clients' homes, dressing rooms, and on location
  • may work in stressful conditions with short deadlines, or outdoors in all weather conditions
  • may travel locally, nationally or internationally.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements for becoming a make-up artist. However, you may find it useful to have:

  • a certificate or diploma from a polytechnic or make-up school
  • a portfolio showing your make-up ideas and style.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job. However, design and visual communication (graphics), media studies and drama are useful.

Personal requirements

Make-up artists need to be:

  • friendly and able to relate to a wide range of people
  • adaptable and good at solving problems
  • good listeners
  • reliable and able to manage their time well.

Useful experience

Useful experience for make-up artists includes:

  • work as a beauty therapist, beautician or hairdresser
  • work at a cosmetic counter, or other customer or retail work
  • paid or voluntary make-up work for theatre or film.

Physical requirements

Make-up artists need:

  • clear speech and good hearing
  • normal colour vision 
  • good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • good hand-eye co-ordination
  • the ability to spend long hours on their feet.

Find out more about training

The Makeup School
(09) 376 6660 - info@themakeupschool.co.nz - www.themakeupschool.co.nz
NZ Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation (HITO)
(04) 499 1180 - info@hito.org.nz - www.hito.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Good demand for experienced make-up artists

Chances are good for trained, experienced make-up artists.

Demand for make-up artists who have completed a full film, television, fashion and SPFX (special effects) course is increasing as more commercials, films and television programmes are being shot in New Zealand.

Increasing public interest in make-up, partly as a result of Instagram and YouTube beauty tutorials, has led to more jobs:

  • in cosmetics stores and hair and beauty salons
  • providing make-up services and lessons in retail stores.

Network and volunteer to improve your chances of finding a first job

Competition for entry-level make-up artist positions is high. Networking, and having paid or unpaid work experience can help you find a job.

You can network and market yourself by:

  • joining industry organisations such as WIFT NZ (Women in Film and Television) or Ngā Aho Whakaari (Māori in screen production)
  • attending industry events and introducing yourself, particularly to make-up designers (who create the overall make-up look for films or other productions)
  • checking industry magazines and websites for new productions and contacting their make-up designers directly 
  • reading and advertising on networking websites and social media pages for the arts
  • being professional on social media when you showcase your make-up work, and in personal pages.

You can gain paid and unpaid work experience by:

  • training at a make-up school that offers internships and job placements
  • volunteering with established make-up artists
  • volunteering for amateur and drama school productions.

It's also useful to have experience in hairstyling, hairdressing, beauty therapy and customer service.

Types of employers varied

Make-up artists may work for:

  • hair and beauty salons
  • television, film, magazine and theatre companies
  • department stores, cosmetic stores and pharmacies
  • fashion design companies and magazines.

Some make-up artists work freelance or run their own business.


  • Black, E, 'Inside New Zealand's Beauty Boom', 30 September 2017, (stuff.co.nz).
  • Ensor, D, co-director, The Makeup School, www.careers.govt.nz interview, October 2018.
  • Iqbal, N, 'The New Beauty Elite', Otago Daily Times, 13 August 2018, (odt.govt.nz).
  • MECCA website, accessed October 2018, (mecca.beauty.co.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Make-up artists may progress to:

  • set up their own business
  • become make-up designers, who create the overall make-up look for films, television commercials, fashion shows or make-up collections.

Make-up artists who work in retail stores and hair and beauty salons may move into managerial or training roles. 

Make-up artists may specialise in:

  • hairdressing and wig application
  • prosthetics – casting facial and body moulds for costumes
  • video tutorials
  • body painting.
A make-up artist holds a model's head with one hand and applies eyeliner with the other

Make-up artists work with clients to create the look they want

Last updated 20 November 2018