Art careers span an array of titles and professions, from art gallery curators to graphic designers and illustrators to university lecturers. Graduates of art degree programs find jobs in art and design, fashion, film, sales, marketing, education, or even animation, depending on their specific majors, background, areas of interest, and concentrations.

To find careers in art and design, there are many things to consider, including length of or type of degree program, career outlook, salary, and day-to-day duties and responsibilities. This article highlights the highest-paying art careers, average salary data for art degree graduates, and popular art career paths.

Highest Paying Art Career Jobs

Salaries for individuals in the art industry vary based on expertise, experience, and actual job title. Geography and the specific companies graduates work for also influence pay. For example, an art director working for a Fortune 500 company in New York City may not make the same salary as someone who is an art or creative director for a local nonprofit. The highest paying career jobs in the art field include:

Creative Art Directors Average Annual Salary: $97,270

The median salary for an art director is $97,270 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 1 . Art directors curate the visual content and images for newspapers, magazines, digital publications, product branding/packaging, television productions, and electronics. The career outlook for this field is a growth of 11%, which translates into about 11,500 new jobs in the next decade 1 .

The profession is ideal for those who work independently as many art directors are self-employed or contracted. Art directors frequently have backgrounds in graphic design, illustration, marketing, or photography. Art directors usually hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Craft and Fine Artists Average Annual Salary: $49,120

The median salary of a craft or fine artist varies based on entrepreneurship skills and marketing but generally runs around $49,120 annually, according to the BLS 1 . A high growth rate of 14% is expected in the next ten years, averaging around 7,000 new roles in the industry 1 .

Craft artists and fine artists use their preferred medium(s) to sell art for sale, galleries, exhibitions, and to private dealers. Often people who work in this industry work in personal studios or lofts. Craft and fine artists might hold a bachelor’s degree, however many master their skill by practice and on their own time in their studios.

Fashion Designers Average Annual Salary: $75,000

The median annual salary for a fashion designer is around $75,000 1 . Fashion designers create the colors, designs, patterns, styles, trends, and color coordination combinations for companies, as well as the fits of clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, and other fashion items. Fashion designers might hold merchandising or fashion design degrees, and many have master’s level or higher degrees or certificates.

Floral Designers Average Annual Salary: $29,000

The median annual salary for floral designers is around $29,000, according to the BLS 1 . The career requires only a high school diploma and is expected to have a 20% decline over the next ten years in career outlook projections, losing 8,500 jobs 1 .

However, for those rare opportunities left, the role allows individuals to use creative approaches to floral arrangements for weddings, parties, formal events, and decorations. Floral designers use different silk flowers, live flowers, dried flowers, and edibles to make decorative displays for guests and other events or photoshoots.

Graphic Designers Average Annual Salary: $53,000

The median annual salary for graphic designers is around $53,000, depending on the company, years of experience, and background 1 . The career outlook for graphic designers looks to be growing slowly at a rate of 3%, with an estimated 7,300 new jobs expected between 2020 and 2030 1 .

Generally, graphic designers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Graphic designers use visual art and concepts such as infographics, photos, and typography to convey visual ideas to audiences and consumers. Graphic designers are often a part of branding, marketing, and computer software teams working in creative programs alongside sales teams to influence overall sales of products.

Industrial Designers Average Annual Salary: $71,000

Industrial designers receive a median annual salary of $71,000, according to the BLS 1 . The field is growing slowly but steadily at 6%, with an estimated 2,000 new jobs expected over the next decade 1 .

Industrial designers have backgrounds in art, engineering, merchandising, manufacturing, and construction and tend to hold at minimum a bachelor’s degree.

Interior Designers Average Annual Salary: $57,000

Interior designers earn an average annual median salary of $57,000 per year 1 . The profession isn’t expected to see much growth over the next 10 years 1 . However, for those unique opportunities, the job will likely include laying out homes, designing and selecting furniture, and ensuring that spaces for customers or clients are safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

Interior designers generally hold a minimum of a bachelor’s level degree in design or a related field, such as graphic design. Some interior designers may work directly with clients, while others may work in corporate interior design, helping with office buildings, store layouts, and other large-scale projects.

Special Effects Artists and Animators Average Annual Salary: $77,000

Those who are interested in technology and special effects might consider a career in special effects. The median annual salaries of special effects artists and animators are both around $77,700, according to the BLS 1 . The industry is growing steadily at a rate of 16%, with nearly 10,000 new jobs expected over the next decade 1 .

The roles require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, knowledge of special effects programs, and the ability to make visual effects and graphics for a wide array of entertainment and media outlets.

User Interface Designer Average Annual Salary: $65,000

A user interface designer generally earns an average annual salary of $65,000, according to PayScale 2 . User interface designers are members of software development teams and are familiar with interface programs, UX design, and user interactions and programs. They create the arrangement and individual elements of software elements and programs.

Visual Designer Average Annual Salary: $65,421

Visual designers earn an average annual salary of $65,421, according to PayScale 2 . The position entails focusing on visual and aesthetic components of a website, digital design, or web application. Similar to a UX designer, visual designers often take time looking at what is appealing alongside marketing and sales departments. Some jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while others might be based upon portfolio presentation and experience.

Popular Career Paths With an Art Degree

Career paths in art span an array of sectors, including technology, business, marketing, branding, museum curating, fashion, interior design, and more. Many artists are entrepreneurs, contractors, or freelancers. Popular careers include art directors, craft artists, fine artists, or multimedia artists. However, many artists also pursue careers as designers or media workers, according to BLS 3 .

Average Salary for Art Degree Graduates

Art degree graduates earn annual salaries of between $50,000 to $100,000, on average, according to PayScale 4 . Earning potential varies depending on the company, nature of work, experience, and professional training and education. Some artists may have day jobs in other industries and add freelance and consulting artwork to their revenue streams, increasing their overall annual earning potential.

How to Find a Job After You Graduate

To find a job after graduating from a top online art school , look into internships, visit the college or university career center, and talk with academic advisors. Networking is key in many industries. A great benefit of attending art school is the professional feedback from instructors and the opportunity to build a robust, versatile portfolio of work. Many professors and lecturers may be able to share additional information regarding career pathways and find short- or long-term job opportunities. Usually, as part of undergraduate studies, there are galleries and art shows where students can showcase their work to those in the community.

Discover More About a Career With an Art Degree

Q. How do I choose the best online art school?

Review the different art schools that offer online programs, compare financial aid, cost of tuition, instruction style, and areas of concentration. Look at faculty, internship opportunities, and attend a virtual or in-person gallery if possible at the school you are most interested in.

Q. How do I choose the right art career for me?

It’s never too late to begin deciding which career pathway is best for you and your art career. Consider looking into online art schools to begin your initial exploration of art programs. Here you can review art studio classes, drawing, painting, and photography while you hone your skills and narrow down which route is best for you. Many colleges offer career and major advising services to help you determine what type of art career is best for you.


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Arts and Design Occupations . https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/home.htm

[2] PayScale. (2021). Common Jobs for Art Majors . https://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/common-jobs-for-majors/art

[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics. Careers for Creative People . https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/creative-careers.htm

[4] PayScale. (2021). Best Jobs For Art Majors by Salary Potential . https://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/common-jobs-for-majors/art?orderBy=midCareerMedianPay&ascending=false

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