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Make-Up Artist

Make-up artists prepare performers for stage, television and film appearances, and photography shoots by applying make-up to portray a physical character, enhance beauty or create special effects.

  • Avg. Salary $26,115.00
  • Avg. Wage $24.15
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Artist, Cosmetologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Make-up Artists (5226.5) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Technical and Coordinating Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and the Performing Arts (F126) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts (5226) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts (5226) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Make-Up Artist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Make-up Artists

Interest in precision working to manipulate brushes and other devices used for the care of skin, and to apply cosmetic and special effects make-up on actors and other performers


Interest in compiling information from period files to obtain images of characters to be depicted; and in requisitioning cosmetics and make-up materials


Interest in applying prostheses, cosmetics and make-up to change physical characteristics such as facial features, skin texture, body contours and dimensions, and in producing effects appropriate to characters and situations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2017

Make-up artists work with news broadcasters and actors in television, motion picture, stage and theatre productions. In general, they assess performers’ skin to ensure that make-up will not cause breakouts or skin irritations, and use make-up to:

  • enhance performers’ features for close-up camera shots or the scrutiny of a live audience
  • restore the normal colour values of the hands and face under bright production lighting
  • create special features or effects such as scars, aging or a particular look for a character
  • create the illusion of a distorted or alien body (often with the assistance of 3-D prosthetics).

For each television, film or stage production, make-up artists analyze the script, noting events that affect each character’s appearance, such as time period changes, weather elements, sickness and injuries. They meet with producers, directors and production designers to discuss the desired look for all characters, integrate their ideas with the performer’s wishes and plan the make-up for each scene.

Make-up artists must duplicate their work precisely time after time. For example, because scenes often are shot out of order, they might have to reproduce a bruise months after creating it the first time for the filming of a subsequent scene. They spend considerable time and energy researching, testing and experimenting to create make-ups and special effects for time periods and for science fiction and horror characters.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Make-up artists may stand for many hours at their work. In filmmaking, a typical working day is 12 hours long, but much of the time is spent watching and waiting.

Make-up artists work under pressure to finish their work in a set timeframe. They may be required to travel to fairly remote location shoots for television or film, and work in all kinds of weather and terrain. The bags they carry to work sites may weigh up to 10 kilograms. Lifting requirements are considerably more for artists who also must carry items such as stools and lighting equipment.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Make-up artists need:

  • creativity and imagination
  • confidence and an outgoing personality
  • flexibility and adaptability
  • stamina
  • good colour vision
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • time-management skills
  • the ability to take direction and accept criticism
  • the ability to consistently create an environment in which performers can focus on their work
  • the ability to work alone and in a team.

They should enjoy performing precision tasks, compiling information about character requirements and developing innovative approaches to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Make-up artists need skills and knowledge related to:

  • the proper care and use of make-up and related equipment
  • the proper care and use of accessories such as wigs, facial hair pieces and special adhesives
  • technique for styling hair
  • colour, shading and texture
  • mixing pigments, the effect of light on pigments and how pigments affect colour
  • the use of highlight and shadow to create the illusion of 3 dimensions
  • techniques for airbrushing
  • bald caps and special effects make-up
  • skin care, esthetics and human anatomy
  • the wayaging affects the face and body
  • the safe use of adhesives and solvents for applying and removing prosthetics.

Make-up artists also must be able to market their services and negotiate contracts.

There is no minimum education requirement in this occupation. However, successful completion of a Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) course and a Set Etiquette course is required to work on International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) project. Some unions require members to have a high school diploma or equivalent. A background in theatre, film, television or visual arts is a definite asset.

Prospective make-up artists gain experience working under the supervision of recognized make-up artists. They also may acquire the skills and knowledge they need by taking related courses offered:

  • in some high school drama programs
  • in post-secondary drama programs (for more information, see the Actor occupational profile)
  • by private vocational schools.

Prospective make-up artists are advised to discuss their education options with program graduates and other make-up artists before enrolling in an education program. A background in theatre, film, television or visual arts is a definite asset.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Artists Within Makeup Academy

Bella Elite Beauty & Barber Academy Ltd.

Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus

GD College

Numa International Institute of Makeup and Design

One Beauty Inc., o/a Lethbridge

The Esthetic Institute Training Center

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Some theatre and television studios only hire International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) members and require make-up artists to have insurance.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Make-up artists usually work on a contract basis for:

  • film and video production companies
  • television studios
  • theatre companies
  • dance and opera companies
  • photographers.

Creating character make-up requires research. Make-up artists need to build and maintain files of people’s faces representing different nationalities, historical periods, and interesting or unusual looks. They also need to build a portfolio of photographs or videotapes of their best work to show potential employers.

To gain experience and recognition, make-up artists may do volunteer work for local theatres, not-for-profit film companies or community cable television stations.

Make-up artists must supply their own equipment and make-up. A good basic make-up kit costs about $1,000.00. Top make-up artists in Alberta may have $8,000.00-$50,000.00 worth of equipment and supplies, much of which must be replaced often. Larger film and television projects often pay a kit rental fee.

Most work opportunities are located in large urban centres. Until make-up artists establish contacts and build a reputation in the entertainment industry, they may do other types of work, such as:

  • do personal makeovers for people preparing for special occasions such as weddings, graduations, photography sessions or Halloween
  • work as sales clerks at cosmetic counters in department stores or as cosmeticians (for more information, see the Cosmetician and Esthetician occupational profiles)
  • teach theatrical make-up
  • work in the fashion and modelling industry
  • work for funeral homes.

The entertainment industry is limited and employers generally prefer to hire make-up artists they have worked with before. Therefore, even the most successful make-up artists in Alberta may do other types of work.

Make-up artists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts. In Alberta, 90% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Fees depend on the nature of the contract and the reputation of the artist. In film and television, minimum rates are set by the IATSE collective agreement. (As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.)

There are slow months of work as well as busy ones, so make-up artists may need to supplement their incomes at times with other part-time jobs.

Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $10.67 $30.91 $21.54 $21.00
Overall $10.67 $38.46 $24.15 $22.50
Top $10.67 $38.46 $26.34 $25.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2017

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 212 in Calgary website:

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 210 in Edmonton website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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