Tempted by a Career Switch into Makeup Artistry?

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I am regularly approached by people (mostly women) in their 30s and 40s asking me how feasible it is to be able to change career to makeup artistry and to be successful in it.  It is a massive decision and not something to take lightly, but if you have a passion and flair for makeup, it could be the best decision you’ve ever made.  That is certainly the case for a graduate of our January 2014 course, Katherine Rich.  Here, she talks about that decision and how her first year as a makeup artist has been.


I decided to retrain at the age of 38.  I left a full time job in local government where I had worked for 12 years but I have always been involved and had a passion for the arts.

I’d wanted to retrain for years but finances wouldn’t allow it, I simply couldn’t afford to study in London, whilst having a mortgage, so it was fantastic to have BAMM on the doorstep.  I completed the Peter King TV and Film Makeup course at BAMM in April 2014.

Following completion of a weeks work experience, I was taken on as a trainee in the Crowd Room for season 1 of Poldark (BBC). Being taken on for this production was a dream come true. Many a time I had gazed out of my office window dreaming of being on the set of a period production and within weeks of leaving BAMM here I was!  I was contracted for three months (until the end of shooting) and gained my first screen credit. I then worked on a freelance, but full time basis, for four months at Peter Owen (wig makers) where I learned valuable skills in all aspects of wig making. As I was based in Bristol for several months, I also took on designing the hair/ wigs and makeup for a youth production of Les Miserables. This was a great experience – it is amazing what you can do with a very low budget if you get creative.

2015 has not disappointed. It began with working as a trainee on the celebrity reality television programme ‘Time Crashers’ for Channel 4.  Within just 48 hours of finishing ‘Time Crashers’ I was onto my next job as Wig Assistant on the UK tour of Anything Goes. We were a team of just two and spent many hours wet setting, pin curl setting and dressing out wigs (1930’s styles), as well as following our own plots throughout the live productions.

July brought another exciting opportunity.  Once again, I was taken on as a trainee but this time for the Main Team on the production ‘Agatha Raisin’ for Sky.  This is a contemporary production and an entirely new experience but just as fantastic as all my previous roles.  I am contracted until mid November 2015 on this production, which I am enjoying every second of and may soon receive my second screen credit!

take a career switch in to makeup artistry

It’s fair to say I have been very lucky since leaving BAMM. I have had amazing support from so many people along the way, who all want to help me succeed.  At the age of 38, many people may not like the idea of starting at the bottom of the ladder and having to spend years working their way up. Or perhaps some may struggle to take instruction from those younger than themselves but this has never been an issue for me. I enjoy learning from anyone and building solid working relationships with people.  I know much of the work I have been offered has been a result of ‘word of mouth’ and I firmly believe this may be down mostly to my work ethic and a desire to learn new skills.

Yes, it is without doubt a tricky business to break into; the hours are long (really long) and sometimes you are shooting outdoors all day, it’s pouring with rain and you are drenched through but would I change it? Not in a million years!

In summary, I love my job, I spend all day with people who inspire me. Every day brings a new challenge or experience and I never want a job to end.  My life has turned around – it’s a great feeling and probably the best decision I’ve ever made was to change career at 38.


Many thanks to Katherine for such an inspiring story. Sometimes it’s hard to take that first step, or realise there is something out there better for you, but it really is so very possible! If you are inspired by Katherine’s story and have also been mulling over changing careers, please feel welcome to call or email us with any questions or concerns you may have – we’d love to help.  With the right work ethic, in one of the Country’s fastest expanding industries, it doesn’t matter what age you start your career.  So long as you have the passion and flair a career switch into makeup artistry could be the best choice you’ve ever made.

You can view Katherine’s CV on Stage Jobs Pro and the beginnings of what promises to be a long IMDb list of credits.

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About the Author

Melanie Crump

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Melanie Crump is the founder and Academy Principal of the Bath Academy of Media Makeup. Born and raised in Bath, Melanie left home as a teenager to train as a Makeup Artist in London. Since 2002 she has worked successfully in many fields of the media; Television Drama, Fashion, Entertainment, Music, News, Sport and Current affairs.