Department of Art

Careers in the Visual Arts

On this page we have collected a wide range of arts career information: arts career resource documents, links to helpful arts web sites, such as jobs databases, arts industry statistical information, and more. We have also included career planning guides that provide you an overview of expectations for a variety of arts careers - from degree requirements, to salary and working condition information. There is a LOT of information on this page so here are some quick links to get you quickly to the info you're looking for.

Art Careers, Jobs & Salaries

    1. Careers in the Film Industry - Animation
    2. Video Game Designer
    3. Graphic Design Careers
    4. Photography Careers
    5. Multi Media and Web Design
    6. Careers in Art History
    7. Museum Related Careers
    8. Art Education

Arts Career Information Links

    1. Career Descriptions & Outlook
    2. Career Selection
    3. Internships
    4. The Job Search

Art Careers  Jobs & Salaries

A large percentage of our graduates have successfully been employed as art teachers in a variety of educational settings. As we continue into the next decade, it is anticipated that the job market will continue to provide good employment opportunities for our graduates.

Very simply, artists create works of art. Artists employ a variety of methods and materials to communicate a message, thought, or feeling, including painting, sculpture, and illustration using oils, acrylics, watercolors, pencils, pastels, clay, and computers. 

Studio Artists can typically be categorized into four groups:

    • Art Directors: Art directors develop design concepts for media pieces and oversee the entire creation and production process.
    • Craft Artists: Craft artists hand-make objects, such as candles, tapestries, quilts, and pottery, to be sold or shown.
    • Fine Artists: Fine artists create items such as paintings, sculpture, and illustrations that are often displayed in museums and galleries.
    • Multimedia Artists: Multimedia artists create images for film, video and other forms of electronic media.


In 2004, 64% of artists were self-employed.  Many, however, find work with museums, galleries, schools, advertising agencies, magazines, newspapers, and movie studios. Through 2014, employment opportunities are expected to grow as fast as average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS) , though competition in all art and design fields is generally quite keen. The outlook is most favorable for multimedia artists as the demand for special effects in movies and television, animation, and video games increases.

Salaries vary greatly for artists. Median earnings for salaried artists in October 2007 ranged from $35,118 for illustrators  to $105,85 for art directors . Freelance artists, however, do not have a steady salary and must work to ensure a constant stream of income.

Careers in the Film Industry - Animation

How Much Does a Movie Animator Earn?

Salary can be an important issue to consider as you're thinking about your future career as a movie animator or video game animator. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint your exact earning potential. There are many factors that influence animation salaries. Here are just a few things that may play a role in determining your salary:

    • The kind of company you work for
    • How much experience you have
    • Your education level
    • Where you live
    • Whether you work on a contract or full-time/permanent basis

While you may not know specifics until you're ready to look for a job, you can get a general idea. Based on HR data, reports that the middle 50 percent of cartoonists and animators earn between $47,041 and $61,391. Of course, when it comes to your career, not all rewards are monetary. Salary is only one part of your future job satisfaction. Having a career that challenges you and provides you with the opportunity to use your creativity and artistic ability can be a very fulfilling experience.

Film Industry Salaries 

Predicting your future earning potential in the film industry is tricky. There are several factors to consider. What will your job title be? What projects will you work on? How long will they take? What kind of budgets will they have? Will you have a lot of down-time between projects, or will you work steadily? In addition to these factors, your salary may also depend on how well you network and how well-known you become.

The following table gives some general information about salaries for directors and producers:**


JOB TITLE - Stage, Motion Picture, TV
Director - $22,778 – 34,733
Producer - $37,772 – 52,161


Some jobs pay more and others pay less. You'll take some jobs for the credit rather than the money. In other words, you shouldn't enter the film industry because of the promise of a big salary. There are no guarantees. However, working in a job that challenges and excites you is a reward in itself. And with determination and luck, you can achieve the financial rewards as well.

Video Game Designer

With video game sales nearly tripling between 1996 and 2006, video game design represents a vibrant and fast-growing part of the entertainment industry. In fact, with $7.4 billion dollars in sales in 2006, video games are catching up with films, which brought in $9.49 billion in the same year.

Numbers like these make it clear that video games are a staple of daily life for many Americans. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), roughly 33 percent of American households have one or more video game consoles, and 41 percent of Americans planned to purchase video games in 2007. This is good news for individuals hoping to start video game design careers.*

Video Game Design Salaries

Many factors go into determining your future salary in a video game design career. Here are just a few of the issues that will come into play when you are looking for jobs and hoping for that big paycheck:

    • Where do you live?
    • How many years of experience do you have?
    • What is your education level?
    • What kind of job are you looking for within the video game design industry?
    • What kind of company is your prospective employer?

While you may not be able to pinpoint your expected earnings before you're actually ready to begin your job search and can answer the questions above, here are some general statistics that will give you an idea of what to expect. The following data shows average salaries for various jobs in the video game design industry in 2005:**


Lead Programmer
Lead Artist/Animator
Art Director
Video Game Designer
Creative Director/Lead Designer
Q/A Lead




Get Started in a Video Game Design Career

The increasing complexity and popularity of video games has translated into more video game design jobs and larger design teams. With the growth in the video game design industry, this is a great time to think about starting a career in this field. If you have a passion for games and the drive to succeed, a video game design career might be the perfect fit for you.

Graphic Design Careers

Accurately calculating what you will make as a graphic designer is tricky. A number of different factors influence salary. Job title, geographic location, education level, years of experience and the size of the company you work for all play a part in determining what your graphic design salary will be.

  • Advertising Director
  • Logo / Branding Designer
  • Advertisement Designer
  • Sign Writer
  • Magazine Layout Designer
  • Packing Designer
  • Calendar / Stationary / Wallpaper Designer
  • Typographer


"Periodically AIGA conducts an extensive compensation survey for the communication design profession—the largest of its kind. See the 2014 survey at—and log in as an AIGA member to explore detailed results for job titles by company type, size or location.

The AIGA Survey of Design Salaries 2014 draws on an extensive pool of designers and others allied to the profession, and includes responses from nearly 9,000 design professionals in the United States. The survey was conducted on AIGA’s behalf by Readex Research, an independent research company in Minnesota.

The AIGA Survey of Design Salaries is commissioned by AIGA in cooperation with Communication Arts magazine. As the principal source of information on the design economy, AIGA produces this salary survey as part of a comprehensive program of activities developed to serve the professional designer with strategies for success." AIGA Website


Photography Careers

Predicting your future salary in professional photography is a tricky business. There are any number of factors that could affect your earning potential. For instance, will you live in a large city or a smaller town? How much work experience will you have? Will you have a photography degree? Will you be working full time? Will you own your own business or work in a salaried position? What kind of photography will you do?

While there is a wide range of things that could affect your earnings, there is also a wide range of salaries for professional photographers. In the US, the middle 50 percent of professional photographers earns between $43,210 and $62,261.*

There are many paths you can take in professional photography—some of them more lucrative than others. Your future career and the salary you'll earn will depend on your own preferences and choices, as well as your determination to succeed—whichever path you choose.

Multimedia Artist & Web Design

Are you an artist with a passion for technology? Or perhaps you're a techie with a passion for good design? Due to the Internet and new media boom, multimedia artists and Web designers are hot commodities in nearly every sector of commerce including business, education, health care and government.

Multimedia artists and Web designers are business savvy artists with a knowledge base that includes art history, illustration, painting, photography, typography, interactive media, film and video, and computer design software.

In addition to having a keen sense of color, composition and type, as a multimedia artist and Web designer, you'll need to know how to present and discuss ideas with clients, understand market research and work under tight deadlines. Your design projects might range from creating a retail Web site to developing an interactive educational product.

Web Designers are responsible for creating the look and feel of a Web site. As a Web designer, you'll need to create intuitive, user-friendly sites that communicate with your target audience. Web designers must have a strong knowledge of basic design principles, but they must also be technical experts with programming languages and design tools such as HTML, Photoshop, Illustrator and JavaScript.

Multimedia & Web Design: Education & Training

    • A college-level education in fine art, graphic arts, computer arts, computer science, special effects or animation is critical due to the highly technical nature of the job.
    • Web designers and multimedia artists are expected to have a strong knowledge base of computer applications and languages such as JavaScript, ASP, HTML/XHTML, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Illustrator and Flash.
    • An impressive design portfolio is a key requirement for advancing your career.

Multimedia & Web Design: Salaries

    • Salaries for multimedia and Web designers vary depending on experience and reputation in this competitive field.
    • Web designers with about 2-4 year experience earn an average of $65,176.
    • Web designers with 4-6 years experience earn an average of $90,497.

Multimedia & Web Design: Career Spotlight

Dustin Hunter
Job Title: Web Designer, Self-employed
Years in Field: 10 years

How did you get into Web design?

I've been doing Web design for 10 years but I've been involved in graphic design and drawing forever. I'm a traditional artist - drawing, painting and photography. I didn't know about computers until my mother opened a computer store. She needed a Web site, so I sat down and figured out how to do Web site design. From there I started picking up little jobs and started my own business this year.

I have a basic knowledge of HTML, but I don't do Flash, fancy animation or scripting. I do some work in Javascript, but I mostly incorporate my classic artistic abilities into Web design. I create sites that are simple, so that any computer can download them. I try to make each Web site look like an original piece of art.

Multimedia & Web Design: Related Areas

    • Animation
    • Game Design
    • Graphic Design
    • Photography
    • Visual Effects

Careers in Art History  (Sage career advice for Art History students)


    • PhD in Art History
    • German, French and other appropriate languages
    • Research oriented
    • Maximum involvement with people
    • Good writing and communication skills essential
    • Travel and study abroad may be important depending on field

Museum-Related Careers


    • PhD in Art History normally expected, depending on the institution
    • German, French or other appropriate languages
    • Research oriented (may start out as research assistant)
    • Some involvement with people, ability to collaborate


    • MA in Art History
    • Languages may be necessary, e.g. Spanish, in order to be able to work with an ethnically diverse audience
    • Some research depending on level of audience
    • Maximum involvement with people
    • Good communication skills essential

Exhibition installation

    • BA; MA may be helpful
    • No language necessary
    • No research
    • Some involvement with people
    • Some artistic training and mechanical skill


    • BA; MA in Museology and PhD for top positions
    • No languages necessary
    • No research except for fund-raising
    • Some to maximum involvement with people
    • Business skills normally useful, including clerical skills

Reproductions and Retailing

    • BA
    • No languages necessary
    • No research except perhaps in legal areas
    • Some to maximum involvement with people
    • Business, clerical, and communication skills, normally necessary
    • This area can include everything from working in a museum store, to overseeing the selection, production and marketing of museum reproductions. If involved with the latter aspect, should have some familiarity with copyright law and artists' rights, though this could be acquired on the job. Also some design skills may be useful.


    • BA; MA or PhD useful but not necessary
    • Languages often useful
    • Research depends on position; copy editor-none; editor-some; writer-a lot
    • Significant involvement with people
    • Business and/or graphic design skills along with good writing skills are useful or essential depending on position; possibility of freelancing

Freelance Writing
(Criticism, Art History, Art-Related Travel, etc.)

    • BA in Art History; advanced degrees may help to open some doors
    • Languages may be necessary
    • Research necessary
    • Some involvement with people; may need to be aggressive in obtaining assignments or marketing work
    • Excellent communication and writing skills
    • High tolerance for economic uncertainty

Art Librarian

    • Usually MA in Art History, and MLS
    • French, German, or other languages often necessary
    • Some research covering a wide gamut of topics
    • Some to maximum involvement with people
    • Good communication and writing skills
    • Excellent administration/management skills
    • Some computer and image technology skills
    • Attention to detail

Visual Resource Materials Librarian

    • BA or MA in Art History
    • French, German, or other languages may be necessary
    • Some involvement with people
    • Knowledge of computer programs for slide libraries
    • Knowledge of basic photographic techniques for the production of slides
    • Openness to technology and technological change
    • Attention to detail

Independent Producer: TV and Film Documentaries

    • BA; MA or beyond useful but not necessary
    • Languages may be necessary
    • Research necessary
    • Maximum involvement with people
    • Background in TV or film production; good business and writing skills; strong organizational skills

Preservation and Conservation

    • MA or beyond in art history with special training in conservation and restoration
    • Languages may be useful
    • Research-oriented
    • Some involvement with people
    • Good background in chemistry and physics, as well as studio techniques

Architectural Conservation

    • BA; MA or beyond useful with a special knowledge of architectural traditions, including interior design; BA or MA in architecture and specialized training in conservation techniques for work at the highest level
    • Languages only necessary as one is involved with international projects
    • Research often necessary
    • A great deal of involvement with people
    • Depending on whether one is working as a employee of a governmental office, a not-for-profit group, or as a private consultant, knowledge of the law, zoning ordinance, estimating procedures, etc., can be necessary. A certain amount of political savvy also is useful particularly if one is attached to a government agency or not-for-profit group.

Art Gallery and Auction Houses 
(for profit-see below for non-profit)

    • BA; MA or PhD may be necessary depending on position and type of gallery
    • Languages may be useful
    • Depending on position can be research-oriented or not at all
    • Maximum involvement with people
    • Depending on position good business, marketing, communication and writing skills may be necessary; training in connoisseurship

Corporate Curator

    • BA; MA or PhD may be helpful
    • Languages may be necessary depending on the nature of the collection
    • Some research
    • Some involvement with people
    • Ability to communicate particularly with people not necessarily knowledgeable about art; may also need installation and interpretive skills; training in connoisseurship

Art Investment

    • BA in Art History; BBA and/or MBA (may wish to take an MA in Art History, too)
    • No languages necessary
    • Some research
    • Some involvement with people
    • Good business and investment skills; training in connoisseurship; good communication skills

Art Law
(Conservation, Restoration, Artists' Rights, etc.)

    • BA and/or MA in Art History; JD in contract law
    • No languages necessary
    • Research oriented
    • Some involvement with people
    • Good business and communication skills

Governmental Agencies
(NEA, NEH, Archives of American Art, state and local arts councils, etc.)

    • BA, MA and/or PhD can all be appropriate depending on duties
    • Languages may be necessary
    • Some to a great deal of research depending on position
    • Some involvement with people
    • Good communication and writing skills; political abilities

Artist Representative

    • BA in Art History or Studio, or equivalent knowledge and experience
    • No languages necessary
    • Some research of markets may be necessary
    • Some to frequent involvement with people
    • Business experience (marketing and sales), organizational skills, self-motivation, and a sensitivity to working with artists

Art Gallery

    • BA; MA or Ph.D. may be helpful, but not necessary
    • No languages necessary
    • Research may be necessary
    • Maximum involvement with people
    • Good business, marketing, communication and writing skills; fundraising skills; flexibility; diplomacy; ability to motivate others; sensitivity to artists' needs; and, depending on the scale of the gallery, experience in exhibition design, curatorial work, sales, and art education can all be useful.

Art Education

Art Teacher: Job Outlook and Career Profile

Artist Picasso once said that painting is just another way of keeping a diary. Art Teachers go beyond painting and guide students to keep their diaries in various art forms. They spur students to unlock their creativity while expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions at the same time. Read on to learn about a career in teaching art.

What is Art Education?

Art offers us the space to express ourselves. Art education entails teaching students how to express their feelings and thoughts about their world. Art Teachers guide their students to develop their visual communication skills by producing various art forms. Art students may be in public and private schools, museums, summer programs, and other places where visual communication is learned.

What are the Educational Requirements for an Art Teacher?

Art teachers are generally required to have a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Studio Arts degree and certification to teach. Their degrees can focus on one or more of the following art spheres: ceramics, painting, sculpture, media arts, drawing, photography and graphic design. Mastering one's area of concentration demonstrates a personal commitment to art, an important aspect of an art career.

Upon graduation, many students complete a one-year internship in schools, equivalent to a first year of teaching. Public schools require licensure in art education before being allowed to teach. Aside from being creative and passionate about art, Art Teachers should be able to motivate students to think about the subject critically and to understand students' educational and emotional needs.

Where do Art Teachers Work?

The National Art Education association, says art signifies three things that everyone needs and wants - language, work and values. It says art education arouses language- written and spoken-about visual images. Art Teachers nurture students' artistic skills at the elementary, middle and high school level. They also teach after school and summer programs to adults and/or children, or in an adult education art program. They can also work in Art museums as education coordinators. Teachers' salaries vary across states according to their formal education and experience.

What is the Occupational Outlook for a Career in Teaching Art?

Job opportunities for teachers over the next 10 years will be good to excellent, depending on the grade level, locality and subject taught, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Most job openings will result from replacing teachers who will retire over the 2004-14 period. Because certain locations are experiencing a shortage of teachers, and a large number of teachers are expected to retire, many states have put in place policies to encourage more students to enter the teaching profession, the Bureau says.

Arts Career Information Links

Following are more links to resources to help you learn more about careers in the arts:

Career Descriptions & Outlook

Visual Artist - The Occupational Outlook Handbook  entry for visual artists.

Career Alternatives for Art Historians

Careers in Art: An Illustrated Guide -  Provides an overview of the various career possibilities in art, including steps on how to be successful in each career field. (Publication)

Opportunities in Arts and Crafts Careers -  This quick read is interesting, to the point and very useful when thinking about a career in one of 25 different art concentrations. (Publication)

Your Guide to Art Education and Careers

Career Selection

The Art Career Project -  An excellent collection of career descriptions related to the visual arts.

8 Creative Jobs that Pay Over $60k a Year  -  Good points to consider if you're not sure what you want to be when you grow up.


Idealist -  Search for internships in non- profit organizations worldwide.

National Network for Artist Placement -  Links to assorted publications about internship and job placement for artists.

National Gallery of Art -  Internships and fellowships administered by different divisions within the institution.

The Job Search (art-focused information)

Aquent -  The creative, web, and technical talent agency ( international job database, free searching).

College Art Association -  Careers -  Listing of employment opportunities for visual arts professionals, published bi- monthly.

Current Jobs for Graduates -  Subscription- based listing ( bi-monthly updates)  for entry- level jobs in art.

Graphic Artists Guild -  U.S. graphic arts job opportunities published by the Graphic Artists Guild of New York. Subscribe online. Printing & Graphic Arts Jobs Employment and Careers -  Nationwide job listings in the printing/graphic arts industries.

Visual Nation -  197 careers in the visual arts.

The Art Deadlines List -  Monthly newsletter providing information about juried exhibitions and competitions, call for entries, jobs, internships, scholarships, residencies, and more.

Careers at Americans for the Arts - Job database in the arts

Artists and Related Workers - U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Last Updated: 12/2/22