Careers in Art

Dec 08, 2010

Calling all artists, art historians and art lovers: Learn how to turn your passion for the arts into a satisfying career. From graphic design to art therapy, there are tons of creative careers waiting for you.

Graphic Designer

Creative Professionals

Making a living as a studio artist can be challenging and frustrating, leading many artists to pursue a side career to pay the bills. Luckily, you don't have to sacrifice your creative spirit! Check out these careers that use your artistic skills to the fullest.

Graphic Design

Everywhere you look, you'll see the work of a graphic designer. From advertising to Facebook, from product packaging to the cover of your favorite magazine - almost everything that we take for granted in our visual worlds comes from the hidden hand of a graphic designer.

Artists with a knack for drawing and design can pursue an associate's degree in graphic design or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a focus in graphic design to launch their careers in the field.

Art Directing

If you already have some experience with graphic design, or you're more interested in being the boss, consider a career as an artistic director. Art directors are the 'big picture' people - they come up with concepts, manage projects and act as main lines of communication between clients and artistic teams.

A studio art degree and professional experience in graphic design are typically required in order to advance to this career level.

Product Design

Are you in love with the sleek beauty of the iPhone, or that awesome art deco chair in your grandmother's living room? Product design is a great way to make the world around you a little more beautiful while working in almost any field. Product designers can be found in the auto industry, the tech industry and the manufacturing branches of just about every business you can think of. They make sure products look great and are easy to use.

An associate's or bachelor's degree in industrial design is typically required for entry into this career.

Interior Design

Are you more interested in the way things fit together than the things themselves? Then interior design may be the career for you. Interior designers plan every aspect of a room, from the color of the walls to the perfect piece of décor for the finalizing touch. Many specialize in specific areas, such as kitchen design or environmentally-friendly design.

Most entry-level positions in interior design require an associate's or bachelor's degree. Some states also require interior designers to have a license to practice.


Artists who want to use their skills outside of the commercial world may consider becoming conservators. These professionals analyze the condition of cultural artifacts such as paintings or sculptures, repair deterioration where necessary and preserve artifacts against future damage. Most work in museums, but conservators can also be found in historical societies and private arts organizations.

A high level of education is required in order to go into conservation. Students should have an arts-related bachelor's degree, as well as a master's degree in conservation. Many conservators also undergo internships or apprenticeships during their graduate study.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Art
  • Art History
  • Arts Management
  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Metal and Jewelry Art
  • Multimedia Arts
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Weaving and Textile Arts

Animation, Cartoons and Video Games

If you like to create interactive or multimedia-based works of art using the computer, these jobs might catch your eye. If you plan to pursue higher education in multimedia design, cartooning or video game design, look for prospective schools that offer internship opportunities; gaining some experience in the field before graduation can give you an edge in the job market.

Digital Art and Animation

Ever wondered what it would be like to create movies for companies such as Pixar, Disney, Dream Works and other animation pioneers? As a digital art and animation creator, you create 3D graphics and other visual effects for games, movies and more. Most professionals in this field have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, animation, computer graphics or a related field. A strong portfolio of work that showcases your talent is important to many employers as well.


Do you enjoy watching cartoons, like The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and other hit shows? Do you like reading cartoons on your local newspaper's editorial page? Working as a cartoonist allows you to create cartoons using computer software or traditional pencil and paper. Editorial cartoonists often work freelance by submitting pieces to magazines and newspapers, while cartoon animators are employed by video game companies, film studios and similar organizations.

An associate's or bachelor's program in visual design, illustration, fine arts or a related field can help develop your cartooning skills. In addition, having a unique style and a strong portfolio are essential for employment.

Video Game Creation

If you enjoy playing video games, how would you like to start creating them? You can work as a video game creator and engineer the next big hit game! Most video game designers have at least an undergraduate degree in game development, computer science or a similar field. Video game programmers typically hold a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science.

Art Teacher

Education and Administration

Want to bring your love of the arts to other people? Check out some of these educational and administrative careers.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a great choice for artists with a passion for helping other people. Art therapists intertwine visual art with counseling and psychotherapy techniques, using their creative skills to help people heal mentally and emotionally.

A master's degree in art therapy is a common way to enter the field, but some professionals combine an undergraduate degree in studio art with a master's degree in counseling.

Art Education

If counseling isn't your thing, but you still love to work with people, consider a career as an arts educator. You can work as an art teacher in K-12 schools, a professor at a college or university or an instructor at an arts organization or community center.

A strong background in making art is the first step to becoming an art educator. Elementary and secondary art teachers need a bachelor's or master's degree in education with a focus in arts education, as well as a teaching certificate. Individuals who plan to teach at the college level need a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

Arts Administration

Be the artist behind the art - arts administrators work behind the scenes in theater, music, dance and visual arts productions to make sure that a performance or gallery exhibition comes off without a hitch. This is a great career for pragmatic, organized art lovers.

There are many degree paths available for aspiring arts administrators, although most require graduate education. Art history, arts management and business administration are just a few of the academic options you can pursue.

Museum Administration

What's the difference between arts administrators and museum administrators? The latter specialize in the unique needs of museums, from managing collections to getting exhibitions running on time. Administrators may also work in museums' education departments, as museum registrars or in a communications area, such as public relations.

A bachelor's degree in art history and relevant work experience may be sufficient to become a museum administrator. However, a master's degree in museum studies is often necessary to advance in the field.

Art Librarian

Art librarians can work at museums, historical societies, colleges or other large arts organizations. They catalog art books, maintain art collections and serve as expert resources for scholars and students.

Being an art librarian also requires an exceptional amount of education. Most have a master's degree in art history as well as a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. Art librarians are often expected to speak (or at least read) French and German, or another language related to their specialty.

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