Photo: Nicholas Lea Bruno

Six profitable careers you can get with an art school degree

Still believe in that tired "starving artist" myth? Don’t.

Recent research shows that 80% of art graduates obtain employment that is either closely or somewhat related to their education. An art degree gives you the ability to earn good money while doing work you have passion for - a feeling sadly missing in much of the modern workforce. Here are six careers you can get with an art degree that will keep you fulfilled financially and creatively.

Art director

Average pay: $89,760 per year

Art directors plan and create a visual style and theme for media like print ads, television commercials, product packaging, and film productions. Art directors are usually employed by advertising and PR agencies, newspaper and magazine companies, and design firms. To become an art director, you should pursue an art degree in graphic design or advertising design.

User Experience (UX) designer

Average pay: $87,883 per year (Glassdoor)

User experience designers perform tasks related to the way people interact with design. In addition to the traditional duties of a designer – choosing layouts, colors, and visual themes for media and products – UX designers do work like creating user personas, conducting usability surveys, and creating wireframe maps. Graphic and multimedia design are good degrees to earn if you want to be a UX designer.

Multimedia artists/animators

Average pay: $63,970 per year (BLS)

Multimedia artists or animators create movement in film, television, video games, and other visual media. They often work for movie or TV production companies, but roughly half of all animators are self-employed. Most animators today use computer software like Maya, Flash, and Blender, but they are sometimes responsible for creating storyboard drawings and print mockups. Animators generally obtain degrees in multimedia or animation.


Average pay: $76,100 per year (BLS)

Architects use design skills to create visual plans for new buildings. They are responsible for understanding client needs, working with engineers and interior designers, and managing large construction projects. To become an architect, you'll need to complete at least a bachelor's degree in architecture, gain working experience as an intern or apprentice, and pass an examination to earn your license.

Creative director

Average pay: $133,097 per year (Glassdoor)

The creative director job was made famous by Mad Men's Don Draper. Like art directors, creative directors oversee the direction of campaigns and communications – but creative directors are responsible for all the stylistic elements of the campaign, from copywriting to sales positioning. They set the creative tone, manage junior artists and writers, and often give presentations to clients. Creative directors usually hold art degrees in graphic design, multimedia, or advertising.

Fashion designer

Average pay: $63,670 per year

Fashion designers conceptualize and create clothes, jewelry, and accessories. They choose fabrics, colors, patterns, and themes. Fashion designers also produce mockups and prototypes to be presented for approval and mass-production. They work with creative directors, textile manufacturers, and other designers. Fashion designers obtain a degree in fashion design, sometimes with a concentration aligned with their interests.

High paying careers with an art degree aren't a myth

Money isn't the main reason you're pursuing an art degree, but it matters, just like your art does. There's no reason you should have to choose between making a comfortable living and working in a fulfilling job: there are plenty of exciting careers you can get with an art degree that allow you to do both.

(Salary information is from the Bureau of Labor Society’s 2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, except where noted.)

CCA’s creative culture is rooted in our vibrant and inclusive community

Discover your future home