Careers in Art

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High-Paying Art Jobs

An art degree can lead to exciting, creative careers in the fine arts, graphic design, and art education. Many art majors work as multimedia artists, interior designers, and museum curators. Other careers in the field include art teacher, fine artist, art director, and digital designer.

An art career requires strong creative skills. Most art professionals also rely on technical abilities, such as skills with design and animation software. Many of these career paths pay above-average salaries and allow graduates to work in rewarding and fulfilling roles.

Art teachers introduce young learners to the arts. Graphic designers communicate ideas with engaging visuals. This article introduces art career salary data and the educational requirements for careers in art.

The Best Online Art Degrees

Frequently Asked Questions About Art Careers


  • Q. What are the different fields of art?

    The arts include visual arts such as painting and photography. The field also includes graphic design and illustration, and digital arts such as multimedia art and digital design.


  • Q. What kinds of jobs can I get with a degree in art?

    An art degree can lead to opportunities as fine artists, museum curators, and graphic designers. Graduates can also work as art teachers, interior designers, and art directors. Art majors can work in education, public relations, advertising, and technology.


  • Q. What is the highest-paying art job?

    Art director positions rank among the highest-paying art careers. Art directors earn a median salary of $97,270 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


  • Q. What art jobs are in demand?

    The BLS projects positive growth for several art careers. These careers include museum curators, multimedia artists, and art teachers.


Career Paths for Art Majors

Career Degree Required Possible Career Paths Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Graphic Designer Bachelor’s Graphic designers create the looks for product packaging, editorial products, and company brands. They design logos, create custom layouts, and build engaging finished products. $53,380 -4%
Curator Bachelor’s Curators manage museum collections, including those at art museums. They acquire, store, and exhibit works within the collection. Curators also authenticate and research works of art. $56,990 11%
Art Teacher Bachelor’s Art teachers educate children and adolescents on fine arts. They instruct students in various art genres, art history, and artistic movements. $62,870 4%
Multimedia Artist Bachelor’s Multimedia artists create models and images for television, video games, and movies. They specialize in special effects, animation, and digital illustration. $77,700 4%
Industrial Designer Bachelor’s Industrial designers create the look of manufactured products. Examples include children’s toys, home furnishings, and cars. They consider function, cost, and user experience. $71,640 -4%
Art Director Bachelor’s Art directors create the visual style for magazines, media productions, product packaging, and advertisements. They direct graphic designers and meet with creative directors to develop layouts. $97,270 -2%
Fine Artist Bachelor’s Fine artists create sculptures, paintings, and illustrations. They develop aesthetically pleasing works of art for various clients. $49,120 0%
Interior Designer Bachelor’s Interior designers create functional and aesthetically pleasing indoor spaces. They choose furnishings, color schemes, and lighting for safe and welcoming spaces. $57,060 -5%
Photographer High School Diploma Photographers use camera equipment to capture still images. They need technical skills, particularly in digital photography and retouching. $41,280 -4%
Fashion Designer Bachelor’s Fashion and textile designers create original textiles, clothing designs, and accessories. They produce sketches, design patterns, and build prototypes. $75,810 -4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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What Are the Education Requirements for Art?



The educational requirements for careers in art vary by job title. Interior designers and multimedia artists often hold a bachelor’s degree. However, many art teachers, art directors, and art professors need a graduate degree. This section covers the education requirements for various art careers.

Associate

Associate programs introduce students to their discipline. Learners can earn an associate degree in fine arts, graphic design, and web design. Associate degree-holders can become photographers, interior designers, web designers, and fine artists.

Two-year associate programs feature major courses and general education classes. Learners complete projects, workshops, and art critiques.

Bachelor’s

A bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level education requirement for many careers in art. Graphic designers, art teachers, multimedia artists, and museum curators need a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s degree-seekers complete major courses, general education requirements, and electives. Many programs feature individual and group projects. Learners may also complete an internship to gain professional experience. Most full-time students earn their bachelor’s degree in four years.

Master’s

During a master’s program, students can specialize in graphic design, interior design, or fine arts. A master’s degree in the arts may be a terminal degree. As a result, graduates with a master of fine arts can pursue college professor positions.

Professionals can earn a master’s degree to advance their job opportunities and earning potential. Art teachers with a master’s degree often earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s. A master’s degree can also help graphic arts professionals become art directors.

Doctorate

A doctorate is the highest degree in academia. Art students can pursue doctoral degrees in museum studies, art history, and art education. Most fine arts programs do not offer a doctorate. A Ph.D. in art prepares students for positions in academia, such as an art professor.

Earning a doctorate requires a large time commitment. Most programs require about five years of doctoral coursework. Candidates must also pass qualifying exams and defend a dissertation.

Online Art School Programs

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How Much Does an Art Degree Cost?



The cost of an art degree depends on the degree level and institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition at a two-year school was $3,310 for the 2018-19 academic year. In-state tuition for a four-year degree cost $9,210 for the same year. Learners attending private universities paid an average of $31,880 per year.

Graduate tuition typically costs more than undergraduate tuition. According to NCES data, graduate school tuition cost about $19,310 on average for the 2018-19 academic year. In addition to tuition costs, art students must budget for living expenses, textbooks, and fees. For example, many art programs charge materials fees.

Degree-seekers may save money by earning their art degree online. Distance learners often save money on transportation and childcare. Online learners can also choose an affordable program without relocating.

Certifications and Licensure for Art



Students do not need a license or certification for many careers in art. But a few career paths in the field, particularly in education, require licensure. Art career professionals can also pursue voluntary certifications to prove their skills. Individuals in teaching, interior design, and web design can earn certifications to advance professionally.

Teaching License

Art teachers need a state license to work at public K-12 schools. Most states require licensure candidates to have completed a bachelor’s program, an educator preparation program, and student-teaching. Candidates must also pass exams requiring content-area knowledge and pedagogical abilities.

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Board Certified Art Teacher

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers board certification for elementary and secondary art teachers. Candidates must pass an exam and submit a portfolio. The assessments check abilities in curriculum and instruction, goal setting, and art education.

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NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer

The Council for Interior Design Qualification delivers certification for qualified interior designers. Candidates must meet educational and experience requirements. For example, interior designers with a bachelor’s degree need at least two years of full-time work experience. Candidates must pass an exam.

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How Much Do Art Majors Make?



For professionals with an art career, salary potential depends on job title, location, and industry. Many career paths in the arts offer above-average salaries. For example, art teachers, interior designers, and museum curators all earn median salaries above the national median for all occupations.

Graduates with a degree in art can pursue a variety of career paths. Specialists in graphic design and digital art earn median annual salaries of $53,380, according to BLS data. Digital designers earn a median salary of $77,200 per year.

Art professionals can earn a graduate degree to increase their earning potential. A master of fine arts meets the requirements for tenure-track art professor roles. Professors earn a median salary of $80,790 per year, according to the BLS. Art professionals can also increase their salary potential by obtaining experience and professional certifications.

Art Salary By State

An artist’s earning potential depends on their location. The following list features the top five highest-paying states for fine artists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  1. California
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. New York
  4. Florida
  5. Texas

Additional Resources for Art Majors

  • Student Art Guide The website provides resources on careers in the arts. Visitors learn about visual arts careers and graphic design jobs. The site features tools for art teachers, access to art tutors, and web design resources.
  • https://www.theartcareerproject.com/ The website ranks art schools. The rankings incorporate data on graduate outcomes, academic performance, and tuition. Visitors can also learn about careers in art, steps to becoming an artist, and scholarships.
  • National Art Education Association Founded in 1947, NAEA advocates for visual arts and design educators. The association hosts events, publishes research, and provides learning resources. NAEA also maintains a career center for job seekers.
  • College Art Association CAA represents visual artists, including educators and students. The association hosts an annual conference and confers awards. It also provides fellowships and grants. CAA connects job seekers with opportunities.
Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See articles by Genevieve

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