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10 Cool Careers for Art Majors

Perhaps it all started with fingerpainting in grade school. You may have gravitated toward a particular type of art over the years, such as sketching or watercolors. Now, you want to make a living creating beautiful things and practicing your craft. If any of that sounds familiar, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to have a satisfying career as an artist. In fact, there’s much more to the art industry than meets the eye. Read on to discover 10 cool (and lucrative!) careers for art majors.

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1. Fine Artist or Craftsman

Although there are many career paths in art, the occupation of a fine artist or craftsman is typically the one that comes to mind when people think of an artist. These types of art practitioners create art for art’s sake. In other words, the pieces that fine artists create need not serve any other purpose than to embody beauty and evoke joy. How cool is that?

You may be wondering how a fine artist makes a living. It’s a valid question. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over half of all craft and fine artists are self-employed. These entrepreneurs may travel to tradeshows to sell their works of art, or they may have a physical or virtual shop where customers can peruse their wares.

While you don’t need a degree to be a fine artist, studying your craft in a postsecondary degree program can help you master advanced techniques in your field. Most craftsmen who decide to pursue higher education do so in a studio arts program such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art.

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2. Fashion Designer

They’re so cool that they may sound like imaginary dream jobs, but positions as fashion designers do exist. These highly creative art professionals design original clothing and fashion accessories. Their duties may include researching fashion trends, sketching concepts for designs, and creating instructions for bringing their designs to life.

Many fashion designers are self-employed and run their own design businesses, but most work for big clothing companies and wholesalers. Others work in the television and film industry, creating costumes and outfits for actors on set.

Many art schools have specific degrees or concentrations in fashion design. A bachelor’s degree is the preferred entry-level credential for most employers of fashion designers. Once hired, fashion designers have the potential to earn a handsome wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these artists make nearly $74,000 per year on average.

3. Art Teacher

Want to revisit your finger-painting days or even teach artistic concepts at a higher level? Art teachers enjoy incredibly satisfying careers as they practice their crafts while simultaneously sharing their passions with others in a classroom setting. Art teachers are needed at every level of education, from early learning to higher ed. A four-year degree is usually sufficient for art majors who wish to teach elementary or high school, while a master’s degree or even a PhD is required for positions as college or university professors.

Positions in art education can be rewarding financially as well as personally. Postsecondary art professors make nearly $70,000 per year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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4. Museum Curator

Museums are arguably some of the coolest places on Earth. That’s why the position of a museum curator makes our list of the best art careers you can have with a bachelor’s degree. Curators are responsible for designing exhibits in a museum and securing the items to be put on display. This requires a healthy dose of creativity along with extensive knowledge of both art and history.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for museum curators are currently growing much faster compared to other occupations in the U.S. Once hired, these professionals earn a good living as well. The BLS reports the median annual wage for curators to be just under $55,000.

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5. Art Therapist

Many artists consider their own work therapeutic, but did you know that there are professionals who practice art therapy in a clinical setting? The occupation of an art therapist is a relatively new type of position for art majors, but it is gaining traction. The field of art therapy combines concepts of visual art with psychology and psychotherapy to help patients with a variety of conditions and disorders, including depression, trauma, dementia, and more. Imagine doing what you love everyday and helping other people find happiness in their lives—super cool!

Not only do art therapists have jobs that are just—well, cool—they also make a fairly good living. PayScale reports the annual median wage for these artists/counselors to be just over $45,000 per year.

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6. Art Director

If you’d describe yourself as obsessed with aesthetics, then an art director’s position may be tailor-made for you. These creative professionals are responsible for overseeing how concepts are visually represented in magazines, product packaging, advertisements, and other visual media types. As an art director, you’ll be in charge of a team of professionals such as graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers who work together to achieve your artistic vision. Talk about cool!

Art directors work in various industries, including public relations, advertising, publishing, and television/film production, for example. Since they fill advanced roles and have significant leadership duties, they’re often well-compensated for their work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for art directors to be just under $95,000. The job market for these types of professionals is competitive, though. You’ll need an impressive portfolio of work as well as some experience working in your chosen industry to vie for available positions.

7. Graphic Designer

Like so many art careers today, a graphic designer’s occupation requires professionals to combine techniques in both art and technology. Graphic design is a broad field, but generally, it consists of creating designs and logos for various media, including print and digital publications. Graphic designers often work closely with other creative professionals such as authors, web developers, and art directors.

A large percent of graphic designers are freelancers who work for themselves or on a contract-basis. Others work for design agencies or in the marketing and advertising industry. Graphic designers are well-paid for the most part. The average professional in the field can expect to make roughly $50,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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8. Industrial Designer

While fine artists enjoy the creative freedom to create works of art for aesthetic purposes only, such is not the case for industrial designers. These professionals must take into consideration both the appearance and the function of their designs. That’s because the sketches and designs that industrial designers create are used as templates by manufacturers as they produce new products. Industrial designers are responsible for creating designs for large items such as cars and furniture and smaller items like household wares and electronics.

Unlike fine artists, industrial designers usually work on a team and collaborate with other professionals involved in the design and manufacturing process. Their team members may include engineers, market research analysts, and even top executives. Imagine sitting in a board room with corporate professionals who actually appreciate your vision and talent—pretty cool indeed!

Industrial designers are among the highest paid of possible art careers, which certainly adds to this creative career path’s appeal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professional artists make nearly $69,000 per year on average.

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9. Photographer

Have you always been more comfortable behind the camera than in front of one? If so, then a career as a photographer may be a good fit for your artistic talent. Photographers do much more than just press a button on a camera, though. A lot goes into taking the perfect picture, including special photographic techniques and lighting considerations. Of course, setting the stage for a great photo and editing/enhancing the resulting image is all part of the work. Since most photographers work for themselves, you may need some business acumen as well to make a successful career in photography.

Though there are certainly more lucrative positions you could pursue in the field of art and design, professional photographers can make a decent living doing what they love. PayScale reports the average salary for these shutterbugs to be an estimated $45,000 per year.

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10. Multimedia Artist/Animator

Perhaps the coolest of the art careers on our list for art majors who also happen to have a propensity for tech is that of a multimedia artist or animator. These creative professionals use advanced technologies like computer software applications to create digital art for video games, films, and other media. They may also rely on traditional media and techniques like sketching and drawing to create rough prototypes and concepts.

Multimedia artists and animators usually work alongside other professionals such as game designers, art directors, and software developers to create digital animation. They may work for software publishers or the film industry; however, most animators are self-employed.

Positions in multimedia animation can be quite lucrative. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these artists make over $75,000 per year on average.

These aren’t the only art careers out there for graduates with a degree in art; they just happen to be the coolest. Any position that enables you to make a living while doing something you enjoy meets the criteria, though. Once you take the plunge into an undergraduate degree program in art, you’ll find that there are many opportunities in the field that allow you to be gainfully employed and indulge your creative side at the same time!

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