Art and Design Professional: Employment Outlook For a Career in Art

Degrees in art and design typically cover humanities, technology, sciences, social sciences and other arts. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for art and design graduates.

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There is no traditional career path for an art and design professional, but formal education can impart the skills necessary for industry success. Among the specializations available are multimedia artist, art director and graphic artist.

Essential Information

The field of art and design plays a big role in the presentation of many forms of media, including books, films, video, the Internet, CD covers, posters, billboards and signs. An art and design professional is typically able to effectively convey a message in various ways. A career in art and design usually involves studio-based work that allows professionals to test their innovative thinking by seeking creative solutions to problems and presenting them in visual media. Art directors, graphic designers and multimedia artists are some examples of careers in art and design. Individuals interested in the field usually need a bachelor's degree in the field of study in which they hope to practice professionally.

Career Art Director Graphic Designer Multimedia Artist
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Industry experience Professional portfolio Professional portfolio
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% 1% 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $89,760 annually $46,900 annually $63,970 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Besides talent, creativity and innovation, many art and design professionals focus in a specific field, such as art history, advertising design, animation, architecture, cinema studies, photography, fashion, film and television, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interactive design or game development. There are also a number of accredited colleges and universities that offer broader art and design degrees, which provide students a wide range of design, arts and studio courses.

Many schools do not allow formal entry into a bachelor's degree program until a student has successfully completed one year of art basics and design courses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some art and design professionals choose to advance their education and career opportunities by completing master's degree programs in arts, arts and design or liberal arts. However, many career options are available to graduates of a bachelor's program too, including those as an art director, graphic designer, or multimedia artist. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of three possible career options for art and design majors.

Art Director

Art directors are in charge of creating the design and layout of newspapers, magazines, television shows, movies, and packaging for products. Art directors also oversee staff who create artwork and layouts. A bachelor's degree in art and design along with prior work experience in a specific industry, such as illustrating, copy editing or photography can qualify students to become an art director.

According to the BLS, about half of art directors were self-employed in 2014, while 15% worked in advertising or public relations. The BLS projected a 2%, or slower-than-average, increase in job opportunities in the field for 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, art directors earned a median annual wage of $89,760, as reported by the BLS.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create the design and layout of brochures, magazines and advertisements, either by hand or using computer software, to communicate visual concepts to customers. Aspiring graphic designers commonly require a bachelor's degree in the field. According to BLS, artistic professionals with computer proficiency have better career prospects, as technology plays an integral part in many artistic fields (www.bls.gov). Graphic designers also need a professional portfolio featuring their best work.

The BLS reports that one in five graphic designers were self-employed in 2014. The BLS projected a 1%, or slower-than-average, increase in job opportunities for 2014 and 2024 for graphic designers. In May 2015, the bureau also reported a median annual wage of $46,900 annually for those employed as graphic designers.

Multimedia Artists

Multimedia artists are responsible for the animation and visual effects for media forms such as television, movies and video games. They develop storyboards and use computer programs to make graphics. A bachelor's degree and a professional portfolio are typical requirements for a student to become a multimedia artist.

The BLS reports that over half of multimedia artists were self-employed in 2012, while most others were employed in the motion picture and video industries.The BLS projected a 6%, or slower-than-average, increase in job opportunities for 2014 and 2024 for multimedia artists. In May 2015, multimedia artists earned a median annual wage of $63,970 annually, also according to the BLS.

Art and design professionals face a unique set of challenges, including high levels of competition and self-employment. The field varies widely, with areas ranging from photography to art history. Formal education is required for certain positions and helpful for many others.

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