Community Arts Careers: Education and Training Requirements

Oct 04, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to pursue a career in community arts. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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The education and training requirements for a career in community arts vary widely, depending on the specific type of work being pursued. Art teachers, for example, are required to have a degree and teacher's license, while musicians and craft and fine artists may have no formal postsecondary training before entering those fields.

Essential Information

Fine artists, performing and craft artists, and lovers of art pursue community arts careers by serving in theaters, concert halls, cultural centers and art museums. They also assume teaching or administrative positions in public or private schools and at nonprofit community or public art centers. These positions help artists meet the challenge of sustaining income while providing the public with opportunities to participate in artistic and cultural events.

Career Craft and Fine Artists Actors Musicians Dancers Arts Teacher
Education Requirements High school diploma or equivalent Some dramatic education High school diploma or equivalent Some formal dance training Bachelor's degree
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% 1% 0% 1% 3-11%
Median Salary (2018)* $49,380 annually $17.54 hourly $28.15 hourly $18.17 hourly $58,230-$69,960 annually

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use different materials and mediums to create functional objects or artwork. They use different techniques to create visual expressions of objects and ideas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), formal training may not be required for fine artists and craft artists, but earning a living can be difficult without some training. With good portfolios, budding artists may enter certificate programs or associate or bachelor's degree programs devoted to their particular art form to help formalize skills and technique and provide further development to their own creative voices.

As of May 2018, craft and fine artists earned a median annual salary of $49,380, as reported by the BLS. The bureau further notes that the projected growth outlook from 2018 to 2028 for craft and fine arts positions is lower than average at 1% due to the mass production of objects that have been designed to appear hand-made.


Actors portray characters in various theatrical mediums. These include local theaters, television, theme parks and live events. There are informal and formal routes by which an individual learns acting techniques; however, most actors develop their skills through some form of dramatic education through drama conservatories, theater education programs and college courses. Some actors teach drama in elementary, secondary or postsecondary schools. Those who become public school teachers however, must have at least a bachelor's degree as well as teaching licensing. According to the BLS, acting jobs are expected to grow slower-than-average by 1% from 2018 to 2028. Their median hourly wage was $17.54 as of May 2018, states BLS.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers use instruments or their voice to perform live at community arts centers and concert halls. In addition to auditioning for various positions with bands, orchestras or choruses, they regularly practice to improve their technique and prepare for their performances. Most musicians and singers typically begin their developing their skills by taking music classes at a young age. While a bachelor's degree is not required for most music related positions, those who plan to perform classical music must have a bachelor's degree in music.

Like actors, musicians and singers can also teach in a school setting. The BLS stated that becoming a public school teacher requires at least a bachelor's degree as well as teaching licensing, and private schools often prefer to hire teachers with the same credentials. Some musicians pursue Master of Fine Arts degrees to continue their professional development and enlarging their portfolios, learning new techniques and technologies and building wider networks that may include mentors and commercial contacts.

The median hourly wage for musicians and singers in 2018 was $28.15 as indicated by the BLS. Job growth opportunities in this field are expected to show little or no change.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers use different dance styles to articulate stories and ideas. They can work for dance companies, theater productions and local cultural centers. Dancers and choreographers rehearse often, working with their instructors to develop dance techniques, prepare for shows and interpret or modify choreography. Individuals need many years of formal training to become a dancer or choreographer. They usually start at a very young age by attending after school and summer dance training programs. There are many dancers who choose to further develop their techniques by seeking a postsecondary education in dance.

The BLS reports that dancers and choreographers received a median hourly wage of $18.17 in May 2018. They further state that opportunities in this sector are expected to decline at a rate of -1% in the decade spanning 2018 to 2028.

Arts Educator

Artists who decide to teach in a school help students develop basic principles of fine arts, drama, music or dance. Arts education is included in most educational curricula from elementary through postsecondary school. As such, individuals who desire to teach their particular skill can choose the level of education they wish to serve in depending on their personal preference. They can also choose to specialize in a particular form or style of art, drama, music or dance.

The degree requirements of arts educators can vary according to the grade level however, most state boards of education require that elementary, middle and high school teachers have a bachelor's degree and some form of teacher education training. Those teaching in public schools must also be certified which may include passing a state approved examination in their field of study. Teachers in postsecondary schools must have at least a Master's degree.

The employment outlook and median salaries for educators varied by the grade level taught. Elementary, middle and high school teachers were expected to see slower-than-average growth of 3%, the BLS stated. Postsecondary arts, drama, dance and music teachers have a higher than average projected growth at 11%. In 2018, the median salary for elementary school teachers was $58,230, while middle school teachers earned a slightly higher median of $58,600. High school teachers had a median of $60,320 and postsecondary teachers, $69,960 .

While teachers need formal postsecondary education, other careers in community arts can be pursued without a degree or formal studies. Acting classes and musical studies, however, may benefit those pursuing a career as an actor or musician, while craft and fine artists may benefit from a degree in fine arts.

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