It's not always easy to embrace your passion by pursuing an art degree. But the rewards you can reap after completing your program are well worth it – including a great career doing work that you care deeply about.
As a prospective art student, you're probably concerned about finding employment after school. The good news is there are some excellent jobs available for arts degree holders. These careers let you apply the skills you learned in school to bring your own artistic value to the world.
Job description: Fine artists create works in a variety of mediums, from sculpture to painting to photography. Most fine artists sell their work independently, a task easier than ever thanks to the rise of ecommerce – the global market for art in 2014 was a record-setting $56 billion. Some fine artists receive special commissions from nonprofits or government-funded institutions.
Average pay: $45,080
Typical degree / major: BFA in painting/drawing
Job description: Helping future generations understand art and develop their artistic skills is a noble pursuit. Art educators often work in K-12 classrooms and colleges, but are sometimes employed by community organizations. To become an art teacher or professor, you typically need to earn an undergraduate degree in art and pursue licensure through a graduate program. But there are many ways to earn certification – it's best to check requirements and available programs in the state where you want to attend school.
Average pay: $47,938 (Glassdoor)
Typical degree / major: BA or BFA in any art program, MA in education
Job description: Art librarians have an important job: organizing, managing, and facilitating access to collections of art and related documents. These professionals work at universities, museums, and public libraries. Depending on their role, they may be required to conduct research and organize public events promoting art and its history.
Average pay: $56,880 (all librarians)
Typical degree / major: BFA in art, BA in art history
Job description: Illustrators are hired to create art for all types of media, from magazines to books to greeting cards to digital illustrations. Their work is used to visually complement the piece's overall message, usually to inform, persuade, or entertain a reader or viewer. Illustrators can be independent or work for publishers, corporations, and consumer companies.
Average pay: $53,624 (Glassdoor)
Typical degree / major: BFA in Illustration
Job description: Behind the scenes at every great museum or gallery is a skilled manager who helps organize its day-to-day operations. Art administrators handle everything from operations and scheduling to fundraising and public speaking. Positions at large organizations or with significant responsibilities often require a graduate degree.
Average pay: $94,820 at museums and historical sites
Typical degree / major: BFA in arts program and/or BA in business
Keep in mind that these descriptions of arts degree careers are based on conventional data. There are dozens of ways that an art degree can be applied. No two students, even if they’re in the same major, will leverage their education the same way. Earning an art degree will help you develop the creative skills to apply your degree your own way in a career you are passionate about.
(salary information from the Bureau of Labor Society’s 2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, except where noted)