Craft Artist: Job Description & Career Requirements

Find out how to obtain a career as a craft artist. See what kind of education and training is typically required. Discover the job outlook and salary potential for this career.

Career Definition for a Craft Artist

The craft artist tends to work outside the traditional fields of fine art (illustration, painting, and sculpture), making use of media like ceramics, glass, paper, textiles, wood, and metal. Craft artists must be knowledgeable about materials, trained to use them effectively, and able to create works which appeal to others.

Educational Requirements No formal qualifications necessary; bachelor's recommended
Job Skills Artistic proficiency, creative mindset, and good business and marketing ability
Median Salary (2017) $49,160 for craft and fine artists*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% for craft and fine artists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most colleges and universities offer courses and degrees in the arts, and many institutions are dedicated solely to degree programs in art and design. While no degree is required for a career in crafts, pursuit of a bachelor's degree can be the best opportunity for students to gain experience with a variety of techniques and materials and to expand their portfolios. Advanced degree programs offer concentrated training and studio time for craft artists wishing to focus on a specialty. Craft artists may be able to gain valuable expertise by being apprenticed to a master craftsman.

Required Skills

Most artists need proficiency in drawing, composition, and spatial relations, but other skills required by craft artists vary widely, depending upon their specialties. Successful craft artists may develop a particular artistic vision and need to be able to express this vision in their work. Self-employed craft artists may benefit from business and marketing training to help them promote and sell their work.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% growth for jobs in crafts and fine art for 2016-2026, which is about average. Data for self-employed craft artists is unavailable, but the median annual wage for salaried craft and fine artists was reported by the BLS to be $49,160 in 2017. Many craft artists claim their love of their work is their primary reward and that financial gain, although welcome, is secondary.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers use their artistic talent to create sample designs of toys, smartphones, or housewares, for example. They use computer-aided design programs to make blueprints from their sketches and calculate materials and production costs before submitting final designs and project specs for approval. A bachelor's degree in industrial design or a related field and a portfolio are generally required for employment. According to the BLS, this career field is predicted to see a slower-than-average job growth of 4% from 2016-2026. Median pay for the job was reported by the BLS to be $65,970 for commercial and industrial designers in 2017.

Self-Enrichment Teacher

Self-enrichment teachers lead non-credit classes for recreational learners; teachers usually provide instruction in an area of their interest and one where they have expertise, such as art. Self-enrichment teachers prepare lessons and provide students with feedback. They may work for organizations that offer adult education programs. There are no common, formal requirements; employers typically expect that self-enrichment teachers have demonstrable experience, skill, or education in the subject they want to teach. The BLS reports in 2017 that self-enrichment teachers earned a median salary of $38,440 and reports expected job growth of 16% from 2016-2026.

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