The Beginning Salary of a Freelance Makeup Artist

Beginning makeup artists often earn less than $15,000 per year.

The entertainment industry relies heavily on makeup artists who are responsible for making all types of performers look their best or worst, depending on what the producer wants. Many reputable makeup artists work as freelancers, networking with their clients to turn up even more lucrative business contacts. Salaries for freelance makeup artists are typically very low until they earn a reputation through their experience.

1 Entry-Level Salary

Freelance makeup artists who are just beginning their careers usually have to take on work without charging their clients much money. Sometimes they take on volunteer work just to gain experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent of wage-earning makeup artists, including most entry-level freelancers, earned a maximum salary of $17,740 per year, or $8.53 per hour, as of May 2010. Makeup artists who begin their career as an assistant before opening up business as a freelance artist can earn salaries ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per year as of 2011, according to career information from the Vancouver Public Library.

2 Salary Range & Averages

As a freelance makeup artist begins to build his resume, he can start charging clients more for his services. According to the Canadian public employment information, reputable freelancing makeup artists can earn salaries ranging from $25,000 per year to $65,000 per year and can earn even more if they own their own studio or can design special effects. Federal statistics in the U.S. indicate that the average salary for all makeup artists in 2010 was $50,980 per year, or $24.51 per hour. The top 10 percent of wage-earning makeup artists in America earned a minimum salary of $102,450 per year.

3 Finding Work

Freelance makeup artists who are just starting their careers need to find any work that can help them promote their skills. Early makeup jobs in a freelancer's career may include bridal parties, community theater or volunteering at local photo studios. Use these opportunities to network yourself to other possible business contacts; you might decide to print some business cards or other material to distribute at events featuring your work. Freelance work for makeup artists is typically concentrated in larger cities, although you will likely have to earn experience in other areas before being able to break into those industries.

4 Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for all makeup artists, including freelancers, will grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018. However, job competition will be stiff, as many applicants will be vying for few jobs--3,300 jobs in 2018 if federal forecasts hold. For this reason, entry-level workers in the makeup artist industry will have to work hard to make their own career opportunities.