What Can You Do With an Art Degree? 100+ Careers & Salaries Revealed

College Administration

Many independent art schools, such as RISD and Maryland College of Art, employ administrators with a background in the fine arts. Additionally, major universities needs arts coordinators to oversee the clerical and logistical functions of an arts department.

Salary: $92,000/year (PayScale)


College Art Professor

Teaches & lectures on relevant topics in the world of art, including contemporary art, art history, and art creation.

Many college professors make two incomes, one from their own artistic endeavors, another from being a professor, making this position flexible and ideal for thousands of artists worldwide.

Salary: Assistant professor $52,000/year. Associate professor $63,000/year. Full professor $81,000/year. Often includes the best benefits of any workplace and eventually tenureship (Chron)


Comic Strip Artist

An artist who creates independent comics or for inclusion in a weekly newspaper. Famous examples of newspaper comics include Dilbert as well as Garfield. 

Oftentimes comic strip artists call themselves cartoonists, also covered in this article.

Salary: $60,000/year (Chron)


Commercial Art Director

Someone who oversees the artistic direction in any number of fields, including theatre, film, advertising, marketing, and more.

Most major product companies need an in-residence team of designers and a director to oversee them for everything from product creation to advertising. Art direction can be very lucrative, especially if working in a large-budget team where the company’s visual appeal is crucial for business success.

Salary: $86,000/year (Paysa) – top art directors can make significantly more, especially if the success of a big-budget production is dependent on their work.


Commercial Artist

Art created for the purposes of helping to sell a product or service, most often used in advertising. Think logos, product design, choice of colors used in an advertising campaign, and more. Perhaps the world’s most famous commercial artist historically would be Andy Warhol.

Salary: $61,000/year (Economic Research Institute)


Community Arts Worker

Someone employed by a government or community to help shape the appearance of a town or other communal space. Their work can include creating artwork for the community, putting together public fundraisers, overseeing professionals to work on arts-related projects, and more.

Salary: $48,500/year (CareerAddict)


Concept artist

Concept art from an Independent video game – photo by Ryan Cash of Snowman via Wikimedia Commons

Illustration used to create an idea in films, animation, video games, or other visual media. Think about major television productions requiring expansive artistic direction for animated characters.

Salary: $64,000/year (Indeed)


Conceptual artist

Large scale installation – photo by Iriber Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Not to be confused with the previous entry, conceptual artists create work in which the idea, process, or method is the guiding factor in the work’s creation. A commonly used type of conceptual art is large-scale installation, many of which charge fees to experience the art.

Salary: Depends entirely on the reputation and success of the artist. Anywhere from entry-level salary to mid-6 figures or more if the artist is very successful.


Consultant for the Arts

Anyone who is hired for their expertise regarding the arts. Common forms of arts consultants include art investment consultants, who are hired to help a client understand the potential appreciation or depreciation of artwork, as well as arts consultants for hotels to help design their internal appearance.

Salary: $93,000/year (Comparably)


Corporate Photography

Major corporations hire corporate photographers for headshots of personnel in their business. Imagine businesses with over 1,000+ employees, each with a biography on their website (such as a major law firm website). Because photographers are charging major corporations, asking for large sums is not unexpected.

Salary: $75,000/year (ZipRecruiter). Individual corporate photographers can make significantly more money.


Costume Designer

An individual who designs & creates costumes for stage, film, television, and any live or videotaped production. Usually works in tandem with a production’s creative personnel, including lighting and scenic directors.

Salary: $39,000/year (Salary)


Courtroom Artist

Because most jurisdictions do not allow cameras in a court of law, courtroom artists are important intermediaries between the courtroom proceedings and the public/media.

Salary: $53,000/year (The Art Career Project)


Critic – Art Critic

An individual who analyzes and interprets art. They additionally evaluate art for their excellence.

Art critics can find work in creating independent art blogs, as professors in major universities, or in writing pieces for major publications. Some historically famous art critics include Roger Fry and Lawrence Alloway.

Salary: Average is $53,000/year (ZipRecruiter). However, if you work for a major top-tier publication such as The New York Times, you can command a salary of $130k+


Culinary Artist

A cook, chef, or other culinary professional who not only prepares food, but makes “edible works of art.” Cake decoration also can fall into this category. Usually requires a degree or background in culinary arts rather than a traditional art degree, however an art degree can help boost credibility and ability in this profession.

Salary: $43,000/year (ZipRecruiter)


Editorial Illustration

Artists who create images to grab a reader’s attention. Used often in periodicals, magazines, and web/print publications.

Salary: $53,000/year (ZipRecruiter)


Engraver/Etcher

An individual who uses specialized mechanical tools to engrave designs/text into hard objects, such as glass and metal.

Salary: $34,000/year (YourFreeCareerTest)


Entrepreneur – Arts

Any individual who creates an arts-based business. Can be more conventional such as opening a gallery displaying and selling your own artwork, or can be out-of-the-box. For the latter, think about Paint Nite, the national sensation where people take classes in artmaking and pay to attend.

Salary: Sky’s the limit


Exhibition Designer

Someone who professionally creates displays for large-scale organizations and events, such as conferences, trade shows, and museums. Several professional exhibition design firms employing hundreds of people exist in the US, including Ralph Appelbaum Associates based in NYC.

Salary: $54k/year (CareerExplorer)


Fashion Consultant

Sometimes called personal stylists, fashion consultants help their clients achieve the right “look.” Fashion consultants often work alongside movie stars and public personalities.

Salary: $58,000/year (Chron)


Fashion Designer

The practice of creating original designs for fashion wear, including clothing, bags, shoes, and more. Fashion designers are central to an apparel company’s success. Major fashion designers are also often entrepreneurs and start their own major companies, such as Ralph Lauren and the late Gianni Versace.

Salary: $95,000/year (Salary.com)

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