What Can I Do with a Fine Arts Degree?

Female attendee at CCA's Career Expo

Here’s what your parents envision: a starving artist in a dingy apartment, madly painting after finishing up your barista shift.

Forget that.

In today’s world, across every imaginable industry, there’s a growing demand for creative people.

Skilled artists are needed who can bring to the table an entrepreneurial spirit, unique problem-solving skills, and a hacker/DIY mentality. Fine arts graduates can be found at the cutting edge of creative solutions, working in industry and in the community, and founding partnerships and enterprises of their own.

Critical Skills for Today's Job Market

A degree in fine arts will give you many skills that are desirable in a broad range of careers. For example:

  • Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
  • Openness to new ideas and modes of thinking/making
  • Ability to solve problems with creative/design thinking
  • Willingness to accept critique and learn from mistakes
  • Empathy; ability to see things from the users’ perspective

What Jobs Can I Get with a Fine Arts Degree?

Today’s workplace is evolving rapidly, and new types of jobs are being created that didn’t exist five years ago—or even five days ago! Ambassador of buzz, crayon evangelist, genius, catalyst, ideation director (these job titles are real!)

But to help allay your parents’ fears, here are just a few (more traditional) jobs that fine arts graduates might hold:

Job Satisfaction

Here's another thing you can tell the naysayers. Artists are among the happiest professionals, according to several national and international surveys—way happier than lawyers, financial managers, and nurses.

A recent survey of arts alumni conducted by SNAAP (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project) found that 75 percent are satisfied with their jobs and with the opportunities they had to contribute to “the greater good” at work.

Prepared for Success

“I would not be at the same place if it weren’t for art school,” says Neil Grimmer, CEO of Plum Organics, who graduated from California College of the Arts (CCA) with a degree in sculpture. “The experience I had and what I took away is that CCA taught me to be a critical thinker and creative problem-solver. I also learned to be a maker and builder. These things are at the core of my business.”

What’s Next?

What are you going to do with your degree? You’ve probably heard this question before. Everyone has. Short answer: you’ll start building a creative career.

Maybe you’ll show your work in LA or New York, open a new gallery, or teach the next generation of artists. Perhaps you’ll write a graphic novel, design an app, shoot a film, work at a start-up, or become an entrepreneur.  

Wherever you land, you’ll use the skills you learned to live creatively, solve problems, and make our world a better place.

For more information, visit Career Development at California College of the Arts.