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Makeup Artist Salaries in California

California has long been the epicenter of the movie industry, with most major film companies setting up studios in southern California that have steadily been producing movies since 1912. The film industry in California employs nearly 140,000 people, and as everybody in the film business knows – from extenuating the natural beauty of A-list celebs to special effects makeup – skilled makeup artistry is vital to making movies. Not surprisingly, California had the highest concentration of makeup artists in the country according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

LA has always been responsible for defining what’s in vogue. As one of the epicenters of the fashion industry, LA is home to many of the world’s top designers who showcase their creations with the help of makeup artists. While LA defines what’s “in,” surrounding areas have their own claim to fame –like Orange County, which is a center for the design of surf and active wear.

The combination of the robust film and fashion industries in southern California has resulted in increased demand makeup artists, which is driving up salaries.

Analyzing Makeup Artist Salaries in California

Makeup artists in California are very well paid, enjoying some of the highest salaries in the country within the field. California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) provides detailed information on the salaries of makeup artists in the state as of 2014:

The median salary for these professionals was $77,827 in 2014. This was 64% higher than the national median salary for makeup artists. Those that work in the salon industry enjoy the benefit of gratuity, which can add as much as 25% or more to their take home pay.

Since being a great makeup artist involves mastering a lot of skills, the amount of pay varies substantially based on their level of experience.

Even less experienced makeup artists in California made nearly as much as the national average, earning $33,779 a year. Those with more experience reported earning an average of $108,618.

Where these artists worked had a large effect on their salary levels. At $84,270, makeup artists in Los Angeles County made 2.4 times more than those in Orange County, including those in Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, who earned $35,110 on average in 2014.

Makeup Artistry is a Growing Field in California

Nine hundred makeup artists practiced their craft in California in 2013 according to the US Department of Labor. Not surprisingly, the lion’s share of them were in the Los Angeles area, where 87.8% of California’s makeup artists were employed.

California’s Employment Development Department expects the number of makeup artist jobs in California to increase by 8.3% between 2012 and 2022, nearly three times the national rate. The number of jobs for makeup artists will increase at slightly higher levels in Los Angeles County, where a growth rate of 8.7% is expected during this period.

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics provides detailed salary information for makeup artists in key areas of California:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division
790
83490
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA
820
81710
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
30
40490