How to become a professional make-up artist

Post by Open Colleges on October 26th, 2020

**This is an updated post**

If you’ve ever wondered how you could turn your passion for all things beauty into a career, then wonder no more. A role as a Make-up Artist could be the perfect career for you.

Combining passion and skills, this career will open up numerous pathways. From lashes to brows, skin biology to cosmetics, the world of make-up and beauty is your oyster. Brides, theatres, cosmetic companies, salons, fashion brands, TV shows and even celebrities all need a professional Make-up Artist. So, could that person be you?

We've rounded up some of Australia's hardest-working beauty and make-up professionals to get their advice on how to become a Make-up Artist. Read on to learn what they had to say about getting your foot in the door of the diverse world of professional beauty.

How to start a career in make-up artistry

Experimenting with different products on both yourself and friends is a great way to practice, try out different looks and improve your skills.

Working at a make-up sales counter also provides good experience and exposure to the beauty industry. 

If you’re wanting to gain experience in a beauty salon or specialist make-up business directly, you’ll likely have to shadow experienced staff. You may be able to practice on voluntary models too. However, to build up your own clientele and potentially your own business, studying and getting qualified is the way to go. 

Professional Make-up Artist, Amy Kenny, has worked in the industry for 15 years. She knows how combining qualifications and experience leads to success. 

“[When you begin], don't rule out working on a cosmetic counter. It may not be for everyone, but it's a great way to build your skills with different skin tones and skin types, and also helps you increase your application speed. Assisting established make-up artists is a good way to learn about the industry and understand job etiquette,” she says.

“In 1998, I did two short courses in make-up and then worked part-time in retail cosmetics so that I could do some freelance work whilst earning a regular income.”

“I worked my way to Counter Manager and did freelance jobs when I could. I freelance full-time now, but I continue to do masterclasses to keep developing myself, as I feel you never stop learning.”

Photography Make-up Artist, Amelia Webb, echoes this. 

“My advice would be to practice, practice, practice,” she says. “Try working on as many faces as you can. Everyone is so different and the more experience you get with different skin types, eye shapes and face shapes the better you will become.”

“The more experience you have with this, the better you can understand the products you are using and what suits the best. Clients put a lot of trust into your skills so product knowledge is a must.”

What formal training and courses should I do?

While there are no specific qualifications required to work as a Make-up Artist in Australia, there’s plenty of career benefits that come with training - especially if your qualification is nationally recognised.

“In Australia, Beauty Therapists with a diploma qualification are qualified in all areas of beauty therapy and recognised worldwide for their skills and friendly client care,” says Jocelyn Petroni, a multi-disciplined beauty salon business owner.

Completing a nationally recognised Australian qualification will give you an advantage over other applicants for beauty industry jobs. Much like the latest make-up looks, a qualification will make you shine!

OC's SHB40115 Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy provides you with the skills to perform a full range of beauty therapies, including massage treatments, facials, lash and brow treatments, waxing, nail-care and of course make-up.

"Beauty therapy subjects are so diverse, which is a perfect opportunity to establish [if you like] the artistic, holistic or skin science components you will cover. Be sure that the art of drawing or creating resonates with you," advises?internationally-recognised lash and brow artist,?Amy Jean.

Specialist makeup courses can also help you hone your skills in a specific area once you’ve learned where your?strengths and artistic inclination lies. 

What will my day be like?

" I love the variety," says Anna Field, Founder of The Paddington Beauty Room. "I spend time supporting and helping my colleagues and my absolute favourite thing to do is interact with clients, giving them advice, tips and product suggestions."

But you should be prepared to be adaptable. Depending on the role that you’re working in, it’s likely that each day will be varied and busy. Hours may fluctuate between long and short, depending on client demands, and weekend work will be inevitable if you’re making up brides or running your own business. 

“Each day is different. Sometimes I get up at 4 or 5 am and work all day. Other days I start at 9 am and I'm finished by lunchtime,” says Amy Kenny. “You don’t get the chance to switch off when you have your own business. There are always emails to answer, jobs to prep for and brushes to be washed!”

Professional make-up artist applying eyeshadow to bride with curls

How do I build up a make-up portfolio?

As with other creative careers, building a make-up portfolio takes time and dedication, but taking proactive measures helps too.

Marketing yourself in a way that’s both appealing and accessible is a good way to help people find you. Where possible it’s also useful to put your portfolio online on relevant beauty industry sites or even take the traditional route of advertising in local newspapers or magazines. 

Another idea is to advertise your services on supermarket notice boards, or approach hair salons to see if you can leave some business cards on their front desks. 

Thinking creatively and outside the box will help build your portfolio quicker and subsequently, boost both your reputation and earning capacity. 

The bottom line

“Make-up is an incredible and exciting industry to be in. If you're as passionate about it as I am you'll really love what you do and it won’t feel like it’s your job”, says Amelia. “There are opportunities to work with great salons and teams. I believe if you take initiative in the beauty industry and align yourself with successful businesses and people, you will have a successful career.” 

If you’re looking to turn your love of make-up into a certifiable, rewarding, and fulfilling career, then study OC’s Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy. This online beauty course will teach you the skills you need to make clients look and feel fabulous.

Turn your passion into a career. Start a 7 day free course trial online today. 

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