Art and Design Careers

by Doug Wintemute
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Artistic jobs exist across many different sectors, allowing individuals to blend their creativity with technical skills.

Design and art professionals work in nearly every industry, creating media and design products that appeal to consumers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 4% decline in art careers from 2019-2029, particularly in publishing and manufacturing, but aspiring artists and designers with applicable skills and training still have plenty to look forward to.

Despite the curtailing of traditional design industries and a substantial loss of jobs resulting from COVID-19, the job outlook appears strong for artists, especially considering the high degree of telework compatibility and strong salaries available in the field.

This guide examines common artistic jobs and pathways, along with salaries and projected job growth data.

Art and Design Careers

true Art Directors $97,270 -2%

Art directors manage design staff and oversee the creative strategy behind campaigns for organizations. They may discuss goals with clients, conceptualize aesthetics, and create project budgets and schedules. These professionals can apply their skills to advertising, public relations, motion pictures, and publishing.

Employers typically require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as graphic design or digital media. Aspiring directors can also pursue master's degrees in art or fine arts. Before taking on a management role, most professionals first work as artists, building leadership, communication, and time management experience.

Source: BLS

true Multimedia Artists and Animators $77,700 4%

Multimedia artists and animators create images and artwork for media, including movies, television, and video games. They develop plans based on consumer and employer needs, create and edit animations using computer programs, and work with other artists and animators to create larger compilations and projects.

Aspiring animators usually need bachelor's degrees in art-related fields. Some employers may require candidates to have specialized degrees in multimedia design or video game design. In addition to a strong portfolio, candidates need artistic, computer, and communication abilities.

Source: BLS

true Special Effects Artists and Animators $77,700 4%

Special effects artists and animators create moving images and effects for various media formats. They work in movies, television, and video games, creating computer-generated images and visual effects. These professionals often work with other animators and artists to ensure that aesthetics align with overall design plans.

To become a special effects artist, candidates typically need a bachelor's degree in a design-related field. A specialized degree, like graphic design or multimedia design, may give applicants a competitive advantage. In addition to a relevant degree, each candidate usually needs a portfolio demonstrating their artistic abilities.

Source: BLS

true Fashion Designers $75,810 -4%

Fashion designers create clothing designs that appeal to retailers and consumers. They research consumer interests and market trends, choose appropriate fabrics and themes, and test their ideas at fashion shows. They may work with specific types of clothing, like costumes, footwear, or accessories, and they can create their designs by hand or computer.

Most fashion designers hold bachelor's degrees in fashion-related fields. They may alsohave training in computer design, and they need creative, communication, and decision-making skills. Fashion designers can gain experience through internships or by working as a designer's assistant.

Source: BLS

true Digital Designer $77,200 8%

Digital designers create the look and layout of websites and interfaces. They often work with web developers to ensure websites function and operate properly. Digital designers also work with clients to determine their needs, choose graphics and fonts that work, and ensure accessibility.

Most digital designers have bachelor's degrees in computer design disciplines, such as graphic design or web design. They usually need problem-solving, customer service, and communication skills. Some candidates also earn industry certifications, especially in niche subfields.

Source: BLS

true Postsecondary Teacher $80,790 6%

Postsecondary teachers educate students, conduct academic research, and publish their work. Art and design teachers create college and university curricula, teach students how to use tools and techniques, and create lesson plans that foster growth and professional interest.

Postsecondary teachers typically need doctoral degrees for employment, though art teachers may qualify for some positions with a combination of experience and a graduate degree, such as a master of fine arts. Additionally, these professionals need critical thinking, communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.

Source: BLS

true Industrial Designers $71,640 -4%

Industrial designers create the look and concept for commercial products. They research consumer and organizational needs, consider functionality, design products, and ensure the final product design meets budget and safety requirements. These professionals use software to create their designs, and they must be familiar with materials and production processes to develop accurate models.

An industrial designer typically has a bachelor's degree, often in a design-related field, like a bachelor's in graphic design. They usually need some training in computer-aided design programs, plus manufacturing knowledge. Useful skills in this field include problem-solving, mechanical, computer, and analytical abilities.

Source: BLS

true Interior Designers $57,060 -5%

Interior designers develop plans for using space in functional, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing ways. They work with architects, engineers, and laborers to create designs while adhering to building codes and accessibility standards. These professionals may specialize in sustainable, residential, healthcare, or corporate interior designs.

Most interior designers hold bachelor's degrees in interior design or architecture. Some states and employers require these professionals to earn certifications, such as those awarded by the Council for Interior Design Qualification. Some interior designers may need computer-aided design expertise, along with artistic, visualization, and creative abilities.

Source: BLS

true Museum Curators $52,140 13%

Museum curators oversee the acquisition, preservation, and presentation of museum artifacts and collections. They work with collectors and other museums to gather new items, perform research, develop themes for exhibits, and design programs and events. Curators may specialize in one or more fields, such as art, fashion, or design.

Curators typically hold master's degrees, such as a master's in art or art history. Smaller museums and exhibits may hire candidates with bachelor's degrees and some experience. Critical skills in this field include organizational, analytical, and customer service skills.

Source: BLS

true Graphic Designers $53,380 -4%

Graphic designers use software to create images and concepts for their clients, who can be individuals or organizations. They design images and logos, often managing design strategies for entire campaigns. They work with websites, text layouts, advertisements, and packaging, collaborating with other professionals and artists to create cohesive designs.

Graphic designers typically need an art-related degree, preferably a bachelor of graphic design, for employment. A master of graphic design degree or significant experience may help professionals pursue management positions or careers in large organizations. Graphic designers should also possess computer, communication, and artistic skills.

Source: BLS

true Craft and Fine Artists $49,120 0%

Craft and fine artists create, sell, and exhibit works of art. They can use many different techniques, materials, and approaches, always intriguing audiences and attracting consumers. These professionals typically specialize in a specific medium, like ceramics, painting, jewelry, or hand-drawn creations.

While craft and fine artists do not require any formal education for employment, many do have bachelor's degrees in art. Artists usually need to build portfolios through practice, professional experience, or education, such as a master of fine arts program. The entrepreneurial side of this profession usually requires interpersonal, customer service, and business skills.

Source: BLS

true Art Conservator $52,140 12%

Art conservators manage the quality and care of historical artifacts. They conduct research in safe environments, using materials, techniques, and equipment that do not damage the items, and then present and publish their findings. They also help clean and preserve artifacts.

An art conservator usually needs a master's degree for employment, such as a master's in history. These professionals typically develop experience before gaining employment by completing internships, co-ops, and entry-level museum or archeology work. Conservators are detail-oriented professionals with good analytical and organizational skills.

Source: BLS

true Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers $41,900 -10%

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design and create jewelry for individuals and organizations. They may use traditional crafting methods, computer-aided design, or other modern technologies to create their art. They can specialize in metalsmithing, gemology, appraisals, and design.

Jewelers can enter the field with experience and little formal education, though training programs in gemology and computer-aided design can help. A bachelor's degree in graphic design, for example, may provide candidates with a competitive advantage. In addition to artistic abilities, jewelers and related professionals need dexterity, visualization skills, and a strong sense of aesthetics.

Source: BLS

true Photographer $41,280 -4%

Photographers produce captivating images for individuals and organizations. They use framing techniques and equipment modifications to capture unique shots that appeal to consumers. They may specialize in specific events, industries, photograph subjects, and photographic technologies, such as drones or microscopic cameras.

The photography field does not require a formal education, but many professionals hold bachelor's degrees in art-related fields. In the United States, drone photographers must obtain certification through the Federal Aviation Administration. Since many photographers work as freelancers, they may need business, interpersonal, and customer service skills.

Source: BLS

true Floral Designers $29,140 -20%

Floral designers create decorative arrangements of flowers and plants for customers. They design flower collections and arrangements based on consumer needs, seasons, events, and overall appearance. These professionals typically also know how to care for plants.

Floral designers do not need higher education training, though professionals may pursue design-related degrees. They can acquire certification through the American Institute of Floral Designers for more formal recognition. In most cases, floral designers possess strong artistic abilities, creativity, and organizational skills.

Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

Uniting 18,000 design professionals, AIGA promotes the graphic arts profession and advocates for its members. The organization develops industry standards and offers access to professional development programs and events. This organization provides advocacy and support for graphic and digital designers. Members have access to educational programs and events, a professional network, and industry resources. AWA+D strives to improve access to the architectural industry for women. The association provides members with opportunities for mentoring, education, professional development, and career advancement. BDC promotes and supports minority design professionals and their careers, promoting inclusivity in creative careers. Members enjoy access to mentorships, scholarships, professional development programs, and networking events.

Frequently Asked Questions

true What Are the Highest Paying Art Jobs?

The highest-paying artistic jobs are usually art director roles. According to BLS employment data, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $97,270 in 2020.

What Art Jobs Are in Demand?

Among all art careers, museum curators and art conservators enjoy the most professional demand. BLS projection data indicates a 13% job growth rate for curators and a 12% job growth rate for conservators from 2019-2029.

What Are Fun Creative Jobs?

Creative professionals can pursue fun jobs like graphic designer, interior designer, and multimedia designer, performing exciting day-to-day activities.

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

Header Image Credit: Phamai Techaphan, Yevgen Romanenko | Getty Images

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