Art Critic: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Sep 27, 2019

Working as an art critic requires significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

In addition to a significant formal education, becoming an art critic usually also requires years of relevant work experience in a related industry, such as an art gallery or museum. An art critic can either produce scholarly articles for journals or write for newspapers and magazines.

Essential Information

Art critics function as reporters in their field. They write articles in which they interpret and analyze the meaning and quality of an artist's work. This career is usually open only to those who have years of experience teaching art or art history or in working with museums and art galleries; some art critics may also have journalism experience. A graduate degree in art, art history or a related area is typical of most art critics. It should be noted that there is no growth in the employment of art critics expected in the coming years, and securing employment as a critic could be difficult.

Required Education Master's and/or doctoral degree in art or art history
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) -12% for all reporters and correspondents*
Median Salary (2018) $41,260 for all reporters and correspondents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Art Critic Job Description

Art critics typically fall into two categories: journalistic art critics and scholarly art critics. Journalistic art critics write for newspapers or magazines and report on current art exhibits, galleries, or artists in their area. Scholarly art critics write for art journals, universities and other professional art organizations. They showcase wide knowledge about various art styles and movements.

Art Critic Duties

Journalistic art critics report news and reviews of local art beats, including gallery openings, art museum shows, and art exhibits. The duty of journalistic art critics is to interpret the artwork's meaning and explain their assessment of the piece's value in a readable and interesting manner. In addition to writing intelligent, thoughtful articles and reviews, art critics must also work with their editors to clarify, revise, or shorten articles.

Scholarly art critics cater to the professional art crowd and often prepare academic conference presentations for fine art professionals. They may review exhibits or artworks that are less known among the general public. Scholarly art critics may also teach at universities or work for art museums as curators. Many scholarly art critics concentrate on a specific style, artist, or medium, such as oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, or charcoal.

Art Critic Salary and Employment Outlook

Incomes for art critics vary, depending on their place of employment and if they are self-employed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies art critics as types of reporters and correspondents ( The median annual salary for reporters and correspondents was approximately $41,260 as of May 2018. The top ten percent of workers made $100,930 or more per year, while the bottom ten percent made less than $23,490. The employment of reporters and correspondents was expected to decline by about 12% from 2018-2028, according to the BLS.

Whether writing for an academic journal or a local newspaper, an art critic must possess excellent writing skills and the ability to interpret artwork in a thoughtful manner. Scholarly art critics often focus on a specific medium, such as oils, acrylics, or pastels. Job opportunities for art critics are predicted to decline by 8% during the 2018-2028 decade.

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