Special Effects Makeup Artist

Create prosthetics and extraordinary looks for productions.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$18,000 – $102,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Special Effects Makeup Artists do?

A Special Effects Makeup Artist has the power to bring to life out-of-this-world characters against bizarre backdrops set in just about any time period — past or future. No, they’re not Magicians; Special Effects Makeup Artists do it through the artistry of the makeup they apply and the prosthetics they create. In this position, you may apply your theatrical wax pieces and makeup to live Models or props, for theater, film, or television productions. Alternatively, you may work for a cosmetics company, special effects lab, costume company, prosthetic design company, theme park, cruise ship, or even an avant-garde fashion show.

You start a typical workday as a Special Effects Makeup Artist by showing up on set on time, with your materials, ready to work. Your tools are the lifeblood of your art, so it’s important that you have everything you need for the day. Actors and Models report to you for hair and makeup, and you go about creating a predetermined look.

The Director may talk to you beforehand about what’s needed for the shoot. If there are multiple days of filming with a particular look, you take detailed photographs and write down notes in order to recreate the look each day to complete accuracy.

You’re a master at applying makeup, creating molds and casts, designing, and fabricating. You use wigs, prosthetics, and other tools to get the job done. While the standard Makeup Artist may be criticized if they get a little too carried away with their creations, in your particular line of work, over the top is the norm.

You have the unique opportunity to express yourself creatively in your work, without bounds or limitations. You might be aging an Actor one day, and creating an out-of-this-world monster the next. Whatever you can dream up, you can create on your human canvases.


Should I be a Special Effects Makeup Artist?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.

  • Also known as: Special Makeup Effects Artist

    How to Become a
    Special Effects Makeup Artist

    Most Special Effects Makeup Artists have a Certificate or no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Bachelor's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:93agaa&chl=no+college+%2850%25%29|certificate+%2845%25%29||bachelor%27s+%285%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,50,50
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