Makeup Courses

Whether you want to start your own makeup business, work on film sets or learn special effects, there is a range of makeup artistry courses that can help get you there.

It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or already know a few techniques, there are courses starting at any level that will be sure to enhance your current skills and get your MUA career started.

More about makeup artistry

Courses usually start at a NZQA level 3, although there are some short courses out there. Once you've mastered these foundational skills, you'll be qualified to advance to a level 4 or level 5 where you can specialise in more advanced techniques.

MUA's may do some or all of the following:

  • client consultations

  • putting make-up on their clients

  • selling cosmetics in a retail or sole ownership position

  • make and apply prosthetics

  • teach make-up skills

  • write about how make-up should be applied

  • read the background on film or tv's shows to gauge how the make-up should look like


Pay for make-up artists varies depending on skills, experience and where they work.

Pay for make-up artists in salons and stores

  • Make-up artists in salons and stores usually earn minimum wage, and often work part time.

  • Make-up artists working as team leaders or managers can earn up to $30 an hour.

They may receive bonuses, commissions and staff discounts.

Pay for make-up artists in television

  • Assistant make-up artists in television – usually freelancers – earn from $25 an hour.

  • Make-up team leaders – usually employees – earn from $30 an hour.

Pay for make-up artists at New Zealand film production companies

  • Make-up artists in film earn from $250 per half day, or $500 per day.

  • Make-up designers – who create the overall make-up look for a production – earn from $350 per half day, or $650 per day.

They receive time and a half over 10 hours, and double time after 12 hours, and may charge kit fees. 

Pay for freelance make-up artists

Freelance make-up artists’ income depends on how often they work, and the success of their business.

  • Recently qualified freelance make-up artists with some work experience usually start on $50 an hour.

  • Experienced freelance make-up artists usually earn $70 to $130 an hour.

  • Senior freelance make-up artists who also style hair can earn $150 an hour or more.