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12 High Paying Art Jobs & Careers

High paying art jobs are critical to a successful career

Art is one of the most human of all academic pursuits. It’s sometimes described (wrongfully, we would say) as a high-society hobby for wealthy retirees. Or as an area of focus only for extremely creative and eccentric individuals. Or as a college major only for those who are so passionate that they don’t mind living in near poverty just so they can throw paint at a wall.

But these (false) stereotypes mask the importance of art. All cultures, from every part of the globe and in every era of history, have made art. Art is the preservation of history. Art is a way of expressing our feelings. Art is way to communicate with people now and in the future.

But art also doesn’t have to be so highly inspired; it can be much more practical. Art touches everything from million-dollar paintings to packaging for sugary cereals. And you don’t have to suffer as a “starving artist”. High paying art jobs and lucrative careers are available—if you know where to look!

Summary of Art Majors

Art is everywhere:

  • Trying to select the perfect siding color and texture for your house? You’re thinking about art.
  • Trying to build an engaging website? Function is important, but don’t neglect the visual art!
  • Are you creating a logo for your new plumbing business? Perhaps an artist could help.

There are countless other examples of how, without even thinking about it, we deal with art every single day. From selecting the right shoes to match your dress to creating a street sign, art is everywhere.

If you are considering a degree in art, you may come across people who feel that this is a wasted education. Working as a painter? A career as a sculptor? You’ll be the definition of a “starving artist.” Or so they say.

But art, as we have established, touches on so many aspects of our lives. Yes, you can work as a painter or sculptor, and you just might be a well-fed artist, but you can also take your education into so many different industries. And as it turns out, many of these opportunities provide high paying art jobs.

Art is not a singular thing. Art education is no different, as there are many types of art and many ways you can apply art in a college education. The most notable, of course, are the majors that directly apply to art. Fine arts, art history, film, and performing arts can all be used to further an education.

But art majors can also include more modern areas of study, disciplines that involve technology and innovations. Graphics design is a form or art, as is (in a way) web design. Film school is clearly an area that involves art, and music itself is an art form. Studying any of these subjects would involve traditional and modern artistic principles, and they can complement, or be complemented by, an art degree.

Entry-Level High Paying Art Jobs

You can quickly enter the exciting field of art, and you may be surprised by how much you could earn with certain entry-level art jobs. These three jobs require only a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience, making them perfect for anyone seeking a career that involves art and creativity.

Multimedia Artist

Median Salary: $75,270
Education: Bachelor’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 4%

When you watch an animated movie, your eyes are taking in the work if multimedia artists and animators. These professionals create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images and models, making them move, change, and appear in almost any way. Their skills are applied to movies, video games, television, and many other forms of entertainment or education. The median pay for this entry-level art job in May of 2019 was $75,270, making it an excellent career for anyone who is passionate about art and wants to earn a strong income. In fact, the top 10% of people in this career can expect to earn over $139,000, all while working on some of the most popular films and shows on the planet.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design / Animation from Grand Canyon University

Fashion Designer

Median Salary: $73,790
Education: Bachelor’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: -4%

Are you the one that friends turn to for fashion advice? Are you constantly fidgeting over the perfect shoes to go with the perfect pants to go with the perfect shirt? Then you may have the passion it takes to be a successful fashion designer. Fashion design involves more than just glamours dresses; people in this career need to understand fabrics, art themes, color principles, and marketing. It’s a multifaceted career that you can enter with only a bachelor’s degree, preferably one focused on fashion design or merchandising. The top 10% in this career earn over $149,000, making this a potentially lucrative job for people with the right skills and talents.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design

Industrial Designer

Median Salary: $68,890
Education: Bachelor’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: -4%

How do sports cars get their body design? How do companies decide the shapes and dimensions of a coffee maker? Why do computers have a sleek appearance? For the answers, ask an industrial designer. These professionals use their education to determine the outward appearance of countless products. They combine engineering principles with artistic knowledge to make a product that, from a visual standpoint, appeals to consumers. The growth rate for this career is projected at -4%, but with a median salary over $68,000, and the top 10% earning more that $114,000, there are many reasons to use your artistic talents as an industrial designer.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from Academy of Art University

9 Highest Paying Art Careers

#1 Art Director

Median Salary: $94,220
Experience: 5 or more years

Art directors guide the visual appearance and layout of magazines, product packaging, magazines, and many other elements. They determine visual concepts, then guide teams to develop the final products. Many are self employed, although they also work for advertising companies and media businesses.

Although most people working in these careers only have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need at least five years of experience to land one of these high-paying jobs. They earn a top-quality income, and the top 10% in the field can expect salaries over $188,000, making this one of the highest-paying art careers. The only downside, which we will see with a many of these careers, is negative job growth.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Winthrop University


#2 Producer & Director

Median Salary: $74,420
Experience: Less than 5 years

Behind your favorite movies and television shows, there is a talented and hard-working director and a producer. Of course, these professionals don’t all work on summer blockbusters, as many are busy making small productions, documentaries, theater works, and more. A producer is involved in the selection of scripts and stories, as well as the financial and organizational aspects of a production, while the director takes a more artistic role, making creative decisions for the final work.

With a strong median salary and 10% expected growth, this is a lucrative and stable career choice. And if you stick with it and work your way into the top 10%, you can expect a salary over $173,680.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film / Production from Grand Canyon University


#3 Landscape Architect

Median Salary: $69,360
Experience: None

When you think of landscaping, you probably don’t think art careers. You probably think of hard-working, dust-covered laborers moving rocks, dirt, and concrete; you don’t think of artistic designs. But landscaping is an art. Creating an elegant yet useful space and combining shapes and colors to enhance an outdoor space is a critical part of landscape architecture, and it’s an art that is hard to master.

Landscape architects work on private properties, public spaces, and commercial areas. Technologies will improve efficiency in this career, which means fewer landscape architects will be needed. Despite the reduction, the top 10% of landscape architects can expect a salary over $112,000.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Landscape Architecture from Academy of Art University


#4 Video Editor

Median Salary: $63,780
Experience: None

Video editing is both a science job and one of the highest paying art jobs. Of course, you need to understand the technical details for recording video and creating a finished product, but you also need to understand artistic concepts such as pacing, tone, color, and angles.

Few art careers are showing a high growth, and many have negative growth. But that is not the case for film and video editors, who record programs of all varieties, including movies, TV shows, documentaries, and sporting events. This engaging career has a strong salary, and a 22% expected growth rate, driven by an expanding number of internet-only entertainment platforms.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Science in Digital Filmmaking from Los Angeles Film School


#5 Graphic Designer

Median Salary: $52,110
Experience: None

Like video editing, graphics design combines science with art. Graphics designers understand how to use a variety of software platforms to create visual concepts. But they also need to understand how art can be used as a communication tool.

Graphics designers earn a strong salary, but the growth rate is expected to be -4%. Many factors are at play, including the reduction of newspapers, which employed many graphics designers in the past.

Popular Pick: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design & Media Arts from Southern New Hampshire University


#6 Drafter

Median Salary: $56,830
Experience: None

A drafter is someone that uses software to create technical drawings based on the designs of architects and engineers. Using a variety of technologies, they work off of rough sketches to help design products, which can range from extremely small microchips to massive buildings.

This career may have a negative growth rate over the next decade, but it offers an excellent salary with only an associate’s degree, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $87,000. The education for this career includes design fundamentals, drawing, and computer-based design.

Popular Pick: Associate of Applied Science in CAD Drafting Technologies from Minnesota State College – Southeast


#7 Art Curator

Median Salary: $54,570
Experience: None

How do art museums find pieces for display? How are these items purchased or borrowed, then preserved for future generations? This is the work of an art curator. These are the people who acquire, store, and display works of art, and they may also be involved in the day-to-day aspects, including cleaning objects.

Art curators may not be artists themselves, but they need a wide knowledge on how art is made, what gives art value, and what art forms are popular in modern society. Management and business education also helps in this career. Curators are expected to rise 13%, well above the national average, although it is a small group, with only 14,500 curators in the U.S. This makes it a stable career, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $87,000.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Museum Studies / Certificate in Digital Curation from John Hopkins University


#8 Interior Designer

Median Salary: $56,040
Experience: None

To fully utilize an interior space, both from a functionality and visual standpoint, many people turn to interior designers. Trained in the use of lighting, furniture, decor, color, and other aspects, interior designers often use artistic principles to create the best possible results for their clients. They often use both software and rough sketches to create a high-quality design that can then be executed in a commercial or residential space.

Interior design brings a solid salary, and only a bachelor’s degree is required. However, the career is expected to decline by 5%, and professionals in this field will have the best chance at finding gainful employment in limited areas, particularly high-wealth areas where interior design is in demand.

Sponsored Pick: Could not look up school using "23944"! from Penn Foster College


#9 Artist

Median Salary: $48,760
Experience: None (long-term training required)

If you’re going to talk about art careers, you have to talk about the artists! Whether you work with paintings, sculptures, pottery, or another engaging form of artwork, this is a rewarding profession that is enjoyed by people all across the country.

The top 10% of artists earn over $106,000 annually, so there is room for excellent earnings, although people rarely become artists for the money. Fine arts and craft artist create gorgeous, impactful pieces that are appreciated by many, bringing a level of satisfaction that few other careers hold.

Sponsored Pick: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art & Design from Lindenwood University

Beyond Art Jobs & Careers

If you have an art-related degree, such as a bachelor’s in fine arts or a master’s in performance art, and you’ve decided to take your career in a different direction, you can still use the skills you’ve gained in art to your advantage. While it may seem like a limited field, there are actually many skills learned in art school that can apply to many other professions and industries.

As an art major, you gained the ability to develop unique and sometimes abstract ideas and turn them into something clear and tangible. A small thought was turned into a physical object; a final product that can be displayed to anyone. This has clear advantages for numerous businesses.

Art degrees also develop your research skills, as well as your observational skills, which all have advantages for people seeking jobs is various industries. From creative problem solving to communicating ideas, an art degree gives you more than the basic ability to create a painting.

The ability to sell these skills is crucial when you meet with potential employers. If granted an interview, be sure to focus on specific examples of how you have used your skills to create excellent results.

Remember that art is more than just a painting on the wall or a sculpture in the park. Art goes into all sorts of commercial products, from packaging to the product itself. This means there will be plenty of opportunities for anyone who is passionate about art to find high paying art jobs.

Continuing Education for Art Majors

Continually learning and growing is an important part of any career, and art is no different. To thrive in this industry, you need to learn new techniques and new technologies, all of which can help you be a success, allowing you to advance further into high paying art jobs.

Even if you don’t take formal classes, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments is crucial. Subscribing to magazines and trade publications will keep you be informed on popular approaches to many artistic forms. You should also consider seminars and other industry events, which will help you connect with others while learning firsthand about industry changes.

Advanced classes may also be necessary, especially if you are seeking a specific career in the art industry. Working as an art curator, for example, will likely require a master’s degree, which will probably encompass about two years of classes. Fortunately there are art-related master’s degrees that you can complete.

If you are working as an artist, you may be self employed. In that case, it would be extremely beneficial to take classes related to business and finances. Understanding taxes, budgeting, profits, and other financial issues will help you avoid becoming the stereotypical “starving artist.” Marketing degrees, or at least a minor in marketing, can also help. As an artist, you need to place your works in front of as many eyes as possible, which means pitching your material to gallery managers and curators. Yes, your work should speak for itself, but understanding the basics of sales and marketing can help you thrive in a competitive industry.

By staying involved in the industry and taking classes that complement an art education, you can become a success!

High Paying Art Jobs Begin with Excellent Education

You can use your inherent creativity to land one or a few high paying art jobs, but you need the right education. With our vast resources and information, you can find an art degree that fits your schedule and budget. Online degrees are more important than ever before, so enhance your artistic knowledge and launch your art career today!

Online Art Degrees


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