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Art Dealer: Salary, Duties, Outlook and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an art dealer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education and job responsibilities to determine if this is the career for you.

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An art dealer seeks emerging talents in the visual arts world in order to buy their work for potential resale. They might also commission an artist to complete specific works to be displayed at a gallery or show. While some art dealer positions require a master's degree, the typical education needed for this profession is a bachelor's degree in a field related to art.

Essential Information

Art dealers display and sell pieces of visual art. They seek out new talent and commission artists looking to sell their works through an art gallery. Having an undergraduate education in an art major, such as art history, is typically required.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in an art-related field, some positions may require a master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2010-2020) 3% for art dealers*
Average Annual Salary (2015) $59,270 for wholesale buyers, $26,340 for retail salespeople**

Sources: *CareerOneStop, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for an Art Dealer

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report statistics on art dealers in particular, it does provide salary information for both wholesale and retail buyers (such as those art dealers that purchase pieces to resell) as well as retail salespersons (including representatives of art galleries who help transact purchases between artist and buyer). According to the BLS, wholesale buyers earned an average annual salary of $59,270 in May 2015, while retail salespeople earned an average of $26,340 the same year. The amount of money earned by dealers relies largely on the location, education, and experience of the individual.

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Job Duties for an Art Dealer

Art dealers are hired by art galleries to bring in various types of pieces, such as paintings and sculptures, from a myriad of artists. They work with local and national artists to find new pieces of art. Art dealers must anticipate current trends and swings in the market, as well as identify and critique art value. In addition to building relationships with artists, dealers must maintain contracts with others involved in the art world such as curators, critics, and collectors. Dealers are also responsible for purchasing several styles and periods of art to meet public demand.

Once a piece of art has been obtained by an art dealer, he or she will display the piece for public showings at art events. Art dealers earn commission by selling various pieces of artwork to other individuals or parties interested in displaying the art in personal or public venues. Art dealers can be found at all manners of events such as gallery events, trade shows, and local area on-site events.

Job Outlook for an Art Dealer

According to CareerOneStop, national employment of art dealers is expected to rise by 3% from 2010-2020 (careerinfonet.org). Art dealers are mainly sought by businesses and stores that sell old antique items and artists. Art dealers must be wary of the economy and current trends because exquisite and rare pieces of art can be expensive.

Job Requirements for an Art Dealer

Art dealers typically must have completed a bachelor's degree program in an art-related major, such as art history. Depending on the employer, a master's degree may also be required. Prospective dealers typically study photography, painting, and sculpture, as well as art appreciation and history. Prospective art dealers must gain knowledge about niche markets such as contemporary and tribal art. Excellent business and communications skills are also necessary.

An art dealer works with both galleries and artists. They not only need to understand market trends in the world of visual arts, but they must also have an ability to determine the value of a piece of art. Superb communication skills are a must for art dealers, as they need to build strong and lasting relationships with a variety of professionals in the art world.

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