Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Makeup Artist

Makeup artists prepare performers for stage, television and film appearances, and photography shoots by applying skin makeup to portray a physical character, enhance beauty or create special effects.

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

  • 5226.5: Make-up Artists

2006 NOC-S

  • F126: Other Technical and Coordinating Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and the Performing Arts

2011 NOC

  • 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts

2016 NOC

  • 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts

2021 NOC

  • 52119: Other technical and coordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts

2023 OaSIS

  • 52119.05: Make-up artists
Updated May 19, 2021

Makeup artists work with news broadcasters and actors in television, advertising, photography, motion picture, stage, fashion and theatre productions. In general, they assess performers’ skin to ensure that makeup will not cause breakouts or skin irritations, and use makeup 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, tattoos, aging or a particular look for a character
  • Create the illusion of a distorted or alien body (often with the assistance of prosthetics)

For each television, film or stage production, makeup 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 makeup for each scene.

When prosthetics (such as latex wounds or fake facial features) are applied onto a performer, makeup artists apply products to cover and blend the fake surfaces into the surrounding skin areas, so they appear seamless and natural. Makeup artists may need to apply or style and blend hair applications (such as bald caps or wigs) as well. After a performance is completed, these prosthetic pieces are removed carefully by the makeup artist, in order to be reused later.

Makeup artists must duplicate their work precisely time after time. For example, because film or television 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 makeups and special effects for time periods and for science fiction and horror characters.

Working Conditions
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Makeup 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, with touch-ups required between takes. Extensive special effects makeup can take hours to apply, so makeup artists may begin their workday long before the rest of the cast or crew.

Makeup artists work under pressure to finish their work in a set timeframe. Fashion shows or photo shoots require quick work to stay on schedule. 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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Make-up Artists

2006 NOC: 5226.5

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 19, 2021

Makeup 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 May 19, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Makeup artists need skills and knowledge related to:

  • The proper care and use of makeup and related equipment
  • The proper care and use of accessories such as prosthetics, wigs, facial hair pieces and special adhesives
  • Techniques 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 or enhance the illusion of 3 dimensions
  • Techniques for airbrushing
  • Bald caps and special effects makeup
  • Skin care, esthetics and human anatomy
  • The way aging, sickness or damage affects the appearance of the face and body
  • The safe use of adhesives and solvents for applying and removing prosthetics

Makeup 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 makeup artists gain experience working under the supervision of recognized makeup 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 makeup artists are advised to discuss their education options with program graduates and other makeup artists before enrolling in an education program. A background in theatre, photography, 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.

Bella Elite Beauty & Barber Academy Ltd.
Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus
GD College
Lily Gray Academy
Numa International Institute of Makeup and Design
One Beauty Lethbridge
The Esthetic Institute Training Center

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 19, 2021

Makeup artists usually work on a contract basis for:

  • Film and video production companies
  • Television studios
  • Theatre companies
  • Dance and opera companies
  • Advertising companies
  • Photographers (particularly for fashion or weddings)

Creating character makeup requires research. Makeup artists need to build and maintain files of people’s faces representing different ethnicities, historical periods, and interesting or unusual looks. They also need to build a portfolio of photographs or videos of their best work to show potential employers.

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

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

Most work opportunities are located in large urban centres. Until makeup artists establish contacts and build a reputation in the 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, cosplay events 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 makeup
  • Work in the fashion and modelling industry
  • Work for funeral homes

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

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts occupational group, 75.3% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

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.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook




Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

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. 

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

As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

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

2016 NOC: 5226
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5226 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.00 $36.16 $26.15 $25.38
Overall $17.50 $47.48 $27.91 $25.38
Top $22.25 $47.48 $28.77 $25.38

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Information, Culture, Recreation
Public Administration

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 May 19, 2021

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, 2021. 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.

Was this page useful?