Special effects makeup artists work in theater, television and motion picture productions to aid in the performance by applying specialized makeup and other special effects. These workers typically receive training from a cosmetology training school or similar program where they learn to properly create and apply makeup for various kinds of productions. Salaries in the field can vary widely depending on different factors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 2009, there were about 1,930 special effects makeup artists working in the United States. These workers earn an average hourly wage of $18.76, or about $39,020 per year. The lowest 10 percent of makeup artists earn about $7.72 per hour, or about $16,050 per year, while the top 10 percent earn about $30.76 per hour, or about $80,630 per year. The middle 50 percent of these workers earn an average of $12.63 per hour, or about $26,270 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most makeup artists are employed in the "personal care services" sector of the industry, as of 2009. These workers earn an average wage of $12.28 per hour, or about $25,540 per year. The "performing arts companies" sector employs the second-highest number of artists, with an average salary of about $25.93 per hour, or about $53,930 per year.
Highest Paying Sectors
Makeup artists employed in the "motion picture and video industries" have the highest average salaries of any industry sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers earn an average salary of about $38.27 per hour, or about $79,600 per year. Those employed in the "promoters of performing arts, sports and similar events," have the second-highest average salaries, earning about $29.99 per hour, or about $62,390 a year.
Makeup artists in California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas have the highest average salaries out of all states, as of 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Makeup artists in California earn an average hourly wage of $30.38, or about $63,190 per year. Those in New York earn about $27.77 per hour, or about $57,760 per year. However, makeup artists in the New York City metropolitan area have the highest average salaries of any city, earning about $31.93 per hour, or about $66,410 per year.