You can turn your passion for art into a professional career that you can actually make a decent living doing. You might find your happiness as an antique art restorer, a police sketch artist, creative art director, or in advertising. Explore these and other careers.
List of 30 Real Art Careers
You can find 30 options for pursuing an art career. Settle back and try each one on for size to discover if it's the art career for you! The median salaries quoted come from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) published by the United States Department of Labor, GlassDoor.com and PayScale.com unless otherwise noted.
1. Art Acquisitions Specialist/Art Investor
An art acquisitions specialist develops, acquires and produces artwork for projects/shows. This can be for any type of industry, such as retail stores, art galleries, or for individual clients. You may enjoy a career assisting clients wishing to add art to their portfolios. You'll investigate art before pursuing purchase and negotiate the price. You'll be responsible for all shipping and receiving of art, manage art inventory, and may produce visual presentation of acquired artwork. Education requirements depend on the industry. A financial institute art investor will need a bachelor's degree in science and/or MBA degree in finance and perhaps an art degree or art training. Some private investment firms offer an apprenticeship for their investors. The annual median salary is around $50,000.
2. Advertising Artist
As an advertising artist, you'll most likely work for an advertising agency. You'll be responsible for creating and designing visuals for different advertisement and marketing campaigns. A bachelor's degree in graphic art or fine art is usually required for this position. The annual median salary is around $43,000.
3. Animator/Cartoonist/Character Artist/Multimedia Artist
An animator creates frames (multiple images) to generate the appearance of movement (animation). This is accomplished by viewing each frame in rapid sequencing. You can find a career with a web-based animation, video game manufacturer, or movie/television production company. You'll need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer animation, graphic or fine arts. The annual median salary is around $74,000.
4. Antique Art Appraiser/Estate Art Appraiser
An antique art appraiser or estate art appraiser is knowledgeable in history of art and antiques. You may choose to specialize in a certain art period or type of art collection pieces. Most antique art appraisers evaluate pieces of art to determine authenticity and monetary value. An art estate appraiser is capable of authenticating, appraising and evaluating all types of art. Traditionally, you may need a bachelor's degree in art, art history or related field. One non-traditional source of education is the Asheford Institute Of Antiques and its "Certified Appraisers Foundation" (CAF). The annual median salary is around $60,000.
5. Antique Art Restorer
A fine art restorer will assess damage artwork and determine the best way to restore it to its original or nearly original appearance. The art can include paintings, sculptures, murals, books, and various art objects. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art history, fine art, studio art, or even anthropology or archaeology. The annual median salary is around $61,000.
6. Architectural Designer
Architectural designers aren't considered architects, but create project layouts, plans and drawings for clients using CAD software. This can include gardens, various landscaping and buildings. You'll also utilize color or collage boards to present a complete picture of your proposed project. You'll need a bachelor's degree in architecture, civil engineering or drafting. The annual median salary is around $52,000.
7. Art Auctioneer
An art auctioneer conduct evaluations and assessments of various art objects. This includes determining the age, origin, quality, and condition for setting a price value. You'll work closely with both art sellers and art buyers. You'll typically work at an auction house, gallery, estate art auctions, or other settings. An art auctioneer isn't required to have any specific type of educational background. There's the assumption this position would require a knowledge of art. The 2012 annual median salary report for art auctioneers was around $24,000, but it was noted there has been a 16% job market growth rate.
8. Art Director
An art director oversees the visual art used in various medias, such as websites, newspapers, magazines, packaging, and movie/television productions. You will spearhead projects and provide the overall creative designs while assigning the artwork and various layouts to others to develop and complete. A bachelor's degree is required in a relatable field, such as graphic arts, illustration or photography. Most candidates are expected to have three to five years of experience. The annual median salary is $93,000.
9. Art Gallery Curator
Art curators assemble, catalog and manage various art collections. You will also present or display these collections. Other duties include, acquiring artwork. You'll be responsible for the handling and care of these pieces and may be required to write about them for publications or give presentations or lectures. You may work for an art gallery or find a career with a museum. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art, art history, museum studies, or archeology along with a minimum of three years' experience. The annual median salary is around $48,000.
10. Art Gallery Manager/Owner
An art gallery manager or owner oversees the everyday operation of a business and any supplies needed, staff payroll and any operation issues. In addition, you'll coordinate the planning, acquiring, assembling, cataloging, and managing art collections. You'll be in charge of creating, maintaining, art exhibits, any artwork transportation as well as the organization of art shows, including all advertising. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art management or an art field augmented with business management education/training. Most positions require at least three years running a gallery. The annual median salary is around $55,000.
11. Art Historian
An art historian researches and analyzes artwork. You'll also interpret various pieces of art in an effort to define the period and circumstances of its creation. You may take a publishing position where you critique, review articles/books and/or edit publications. Possible jobs include museums, galleries/auction houses, and other institutions that preserve antiquities. Most art historians begin with a bachelor's degree in art history and go on to achieve a master's and in many cases, a doctorate (higher salary). The annual median salary is $61,000.
12. Art Librarian
As an art librarian, you'll be responsible for the organization of visual arts. You'll provide easy access to the information that explains each art piece. You'll work to promote various art collections and pieces to the public. You'll work with curators, schools, artists and organizations/art clubs. You may start with an internship while in college. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art history and/or library science, or art. Most art librarians go on to earn a master's degree to ensure they have a career path. The annual median salary is around $57,000.
13. Art Professor
Teach at a college or university when you choose a career as an art professor. Depending on your professional reputation and the college/university, you may teach your own version of art or you may teach a variety of art classes, such as art history, masterpieces, art theories, etc. You'll be required to have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Many art professors earn a MBA or doctorate. The annual median salary is around $78,000.
14. Art Teacher
You can don the role of art teacher for any school grade level from kindergarten to high school. You can enjoy sharing your love of art with eager young students for a highly rewarding career. You'll be required to earn a bachelor's degree in education or art education, participate in a teaching internship and meet state licensing requirements. Some states require a master's degree. The annual salary median for art teachers in technical or trade schools is around $55,000. Grade school and high school salaries depend on the county/state and school.
15. Art Therapist
Making art is great therapy for the mind, body and soul. Depending on the type of clients and their needs, you'll pattern this activity to answer your clients' circumstances, such as art becoming a way for the person to communicate, You'll assess each client's progress and create a plan for future therapies. You're required to hold a Master of Art Therapy degree. You'll also need to be certified by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). Some states require a license before you can practice.The annual median salary is around $55,900.
16. Artist Agent
An artist agent represents the artist and works to promote and sell their work. An agent understands the art world, knows how to pursue individual sales, secure a gallery for art shows, make licensing deals, advise on PR campaigns and apprise artists of opportunities. Most artist agents work on a commission basis and are only paid when they sell works of art or licensing deals. There is no education requirement, although many agents hold a bachelor's degree in either art or business. A few agents may work on a salary or hourly basis.
17. Arts Organization Fundraiser
Most arts organizations are not-for-profit. Your mission is to promote and develop art within a community featuring various artists. As a visual arts fundraiser, you'll organize art fundraiser events and develop fundraising campaigns to fund the organization's art programs. You'll need to conduct research on potential donors and create a list of past donors to contact. A bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, or specific fundraising/philanthropic coursework is usually required. The annual median salary is around $50,000.
18. Commercial Artist/Layout Artist/Graphic Artist or Designer
Commercial or graphic artists and graphic designers work in a variety of jobs, mostly advertising/marketing. You'll come up with creative visual concepts and implement either with computer software or manually. You'll layout the project so it appeals to graphic design criteria. Your creations will be used to inspire, advertise and/or inform. A bachelor degree in commercial art, graphic art or related field. The annual median salary is around $50,000.
19. Courtroom Artist
A courtroom artist creates artistic renderings of the proceedings of a courtroom trial. You will strive to capture the emotions, essences and reactions that take place during the trial. Your illustrations will be used when cameras aren't allowed into the courtroom. Most news/media organizations require a bachelor's degree in art or related field. In 2010, the annual median salary was reported to be around $53,000.
20. Craft and Fine Artists/Painters/Glassblowers/Potters
Craft and fine artists work in various mediums and employ different techniques using a wide range of materials to create original art. You'll create art to sell. You may choose to specialize in a particular type of art, such as sculpting, pottery, textiles, or glass blowing. Most of these careers don't require formal training, but most crafters take various classes or even work as an apprentice. Fine artists often earn a bachelor's degrees with some achieving a master's degree as they advance in their art. The annual median salary is around $49,000.
21. Creative Art Director
Art directors find careers in visual arts, such as newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies, product packaging, and movie/television productions. As an art director, you'll be responsible for the visual appeal and style of the images featured in these venues. You'll determine the tone of projects and guide a team to create the necessary artwork and page/website layouts. A bachelor's degree in art, visual arts, digital/media arts or fine arts and three or more years' experience is required.The annual median salary is around $93,000.
Many illustrators work as freelancers by the project or on a commission basis. You'll take on projects, such as illustrating books, magazines, greeting cards, or advertisements. There's no degree required, unless required by a specific employer. Many professional illustrators hold a bachelor's degree in illustration or other type of art. The annual median salary is around $57,000.
23. Logo Designer
A logo designer is a graphic artist specializing in one type of work. You'll meet with clients to understand their brand and how they wish to portray their company to the public. You'll create two to three designs for them to consider as the identifier of their brand. You may also offer other services, such as printing for company letterhead, envelopes, cards, and other logo items they may need. You will need either an associate's or bachelor's degree in commercial art, graphic art/design, visual arts/communication or a related field. The annual median salary is around $50,000.
24. Museum Art Archivist
A museum art archivist is concerned with the documentation of works of art. The archivist cares for the preservation and reliability of records pertaining to the museum's art collection and new procurements. These can be kept on paper, film and digital formats. This position requires a bachelor's degree in archival science or library science or related fields, such as art, art history or science. The annual median salary is around $48,000.
25. Museum Art Curator
A museum art curators is focused on the artwork that is on loan or procured by the museum. You'll study and work to authenticate art objects. You'll also research the origin and history of each object. You'll be responsible for setting up displays and showcasing collections as well as individual art pieces. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art history, museum studies, art, history, archeology, or a related field. Most curators need a minimum of four years' experience. Some museums require a PhD. The annual median salary is around $48,000.
26. Museum Art Manager or Director
An art expert, the museum art manager or director has full knowledge of the museum's art collection and guides the museum art department. You'll also wear other hats, such as business manager (all staffing, financing, budget, donor contributions) and curator. You have oversight of everything pertaining to the works of art in the museum. You'll need a bachelor's degree in art history, museum studies, art or relate field and five or more years of experience. This includes, fundraising efforts, exhibitions, and collection care/maintenance. The annual median salary is around $86.000.
27. Police Sketch Artist
A police sketch artist is part of the forensic department and is also called a composite artist. You will interview witnesses to crimes as well as victims in an effort to capture a composite of criminals. Police officers will use your sketches to apprehend criminals. You may also create aged drawing of missing persons years after their disappearance. You may work as an employee of a police department or work as a freelancer. An associate's degree or bachelor's degree in graphic art/design or forensic art is usually required. In 2016, the annual median salary reported was around $42,000.
28. Portrait Artist
A portrait artist may work independently or for a company, such as a comic book or graphic novel publisher or movie/television company. A freelance portrait artist may also work with clients to create individual, family or group portraits for various places, such as homes, offices, museums, and other settings. Most portrait artists are freelancers. Some work at craft shows or festivals offering quick pen and ink sketches of attendees. You may work on a commission basis that requires clients to visit your studio or for you to travel to their residences. While most portrait artists have a mix of art training, no degree is usually required, unless demanded by a potential employer. Your most important credential is your portfolio. The annual median salary is around $49,000. Freelancers often have greater earning opportunities than those employed by a publisher or other company.
29. Sketch Artist
While most sketch artists find employment with law enforcement, you can find jobs in areas, such as graphic novels, comic books, video games, and festivals. Whatever your art goals are, you can find jobs using your talent and skills to draw the likeness of individuals. An associate's or bachelor's degree in art or fine art may be required by some employers. Most sketch artists rely on their portfolios. The annual median salary is around $42,000.
30. Tattoo Artist
You can turn your love of drawing and ink into a career as a tattoo artist. You have the option of working for yourself or teaming up with a tattoo shop. You'll use needles and different pigments to apply permanent designs onto clients' bodies by injecting ink underneath their skin layer. You'll guide clients in their design selections. You can create your own designs and if you're real good, may develop a reputation where clients only want you to create their tattoos. You aren't required to have a degree; however, most states have specific licensing requirements. Some states have very stringent ones, such as a set apprenticeship/training period by a state approved tattoo artist. Be sure to check with your state for licensing requirements. The annual median salary is around $80 an hour.
Using List of Art Careers to Find Your Passion
A list of art careers can give you basic information that allows you to imagine how you might fit into that job. Once you whittle down your possible career choices, you can delve deeper into the job and educational requirements, if any are need, to set your foot on an art career path.