Not A Starving Artist: What To Do With Your Art Degree

The old adage about “starving artists” might scare people looking into an art degree, but the reality is that there are many high-paying jobs that you can only get with an art degree. Art degrees are more flexible than many people think. The skills you’ll pick up during your studies can lead to great career opportunities.

For instance, if you take psychology courses alongside art you open yourself to career Opportunites in Art Therapy. This kind of therapist is sometimes used to help children but came mostly be found in hospice & respite care.

It’s important to have an open mind if you’re looking for the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements. These jobs might not be what you expect, or what you originally imagined, but they offer great career opportunities.

What Will You Study?

First, what might you study if you are getting an art degree?

Obviously, a lot of your education will be about art itself, but for those looking to snag the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements, it’s a good idea to diversify your education. You might consider getting a minor alongside your art degree so that you have that extra little edge you can offer your potential employers.

Healthcare offers a great opportunity for art majors. It might surprise you to learn that even things like Alzheimer’s disease treatment can benefit from art. That’s because of things like art therapy, which can significantly improve mood and lower levels of pain and anxiety, research has shown.

Or you might look at real estate and law as additional fields of study. Even here, there are many opportunities for a savvy art student who wants to make the most of their degree.

How Can You Leverage Your Degree?

Making the most of your art degree depends a lot on marketing yourself. The jobs won’t just come to you, especially the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements. For those, you may need to get creative and assertive in your job hunt.

For example, you might explore the law. Family law, immigration law, tax law – they sound like dry fields lacking art, but that is where you come in. An eye for design can help lawyers create more appealing and professional-looking websites, for example, or develop logos for their businesses. This lets them reach clients and is highly valuable to them.

The key for anyone with an art degree is not to pigeonhole yourself into thinking it is just one thing. Art can apply to a diverse range of fields and professions. Keep your mind open as you explore 8 of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements.

1. Art Director

Art direction is a vast field that covers a lot of different industries. Art directors help guide a project, from the layouts to the graphics to the visual styles used by a whole team. Sometimes this means something like a magazine or advertisement, but other times it could mean a film or television set.

Art directors might even work in engineering and product development. Every product you own and use and rely on has an art director behind it somewhere guiding things like the design of the packaging.

This job requires more than just art skills. A degree in business alongside an art degree is often helpful if you want to become an art director. That’s a lot of additional schooling, but it’s worthwhile for one of the highest paying jobs with art degree credentials. You could earn anywhere from $42,000 per year to $160,000 per year.

2. Gallery Manager

A more expected field for the highest paying jobs with art degree credentials is gallery management. People who manage galleries usually have art degrees. This job requires you to be experts in art and art history, as well as have a knack for marketing.

Gallery managers help organize exhibitions, whether they’re private or public. This requires the knowledge to select and display the art, organize the guests and run the event. It’s a demanding job, but comes with one of the highest salaries in art at about $50,000 per year.

You won’t just run exhibitions every day, though. Art gallery managers also take care of the day-to-day concerns of the gallery. This includes things like budgeting, overseeing the installation of new pieces, ensuring the gallery’s website is up to date, working with artists, and overseeing guests. It is a lot of work, but it’s also one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements and for someone passionate about art, it can be a great fit.

3. Art Professor

Another obvious track is an art professor. You can use your degree to teach others what you learned. The amount you earn for being an art professor will vary widely depending on where you teach. Art professors tend to earn from $45,000 to $88,000 per year.

You need more than an art degree to become a professor. Professors also have master’s degrees, often in art, art history, education or some combination therein. You’ll have to develop lesson plans, meet your students’ needs, and keep on top of assignments.

Depending on what type of school you teach at, your experience can vary widely. For example, teaching at a catholic school will be very different from teaching at a public university. So think about what is the best fit for you personally before applying. It can be tempting, as this is one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements, but it’s worth it to find a good cultural fit for you if you plan to teach long-term.

4. Interior Designer

If you have a passion for interior design and real estate, you could find yourself with one of the highest paying jobs with art degree credentials attached. Interior designers tend to make between $35,000 and $65,000 per year, with that number fluctuating depending on if you have a master’s degree or not.

Interior designers are concerned with practicality as well as beauty. It’s important that you be able to make a space useful and comfortable, as well as aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You will work one-on-one with you clients to get their design vision, then sketch out concepts that could be turned into their dream home.

Interior design is not just for luxury home construction and fancy mansions. Many of your clients will have a strict budget restraints that you have to work within. A great interior designer is able to create art within limitations. How can you ensure that a space is useful and functional, but also meets the requirements of design, color, and aesthetic that your client has set out for you?

You need to be highly creative to snag this job, but that is what makes it one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements. You have to think about materials, furniture, and installation, as well as the design aesthetic itself. If that sounds like an exciting challenge to you then becoming an interior designer might be the right path for you to take with your art degree.

5. Graphic Designer

In contrast, graphic designers get a bit more leeway with how they create. Here, the emphasis is not quite so heavily focused on functionality. That’s because graphic design applies to so many products and mediums that are not strictly essential for daily life.

That’s not to say the work of a graphic designer isn’t important. It is! Graphic designers help make advertisements, signage, and marketing materials, as well as things like logos, illustrations, animations, and other promotional materials. Sometimes, this kind of marketing gets really creative. Some companies will use buttons, pins, or even a rubber stamp as a means to keep themselves on their customers’ minds.

You could also find yourself working in publishing. Magazines, websites, newspapers, and all sorts of other publications always need graphic designers to help make text more readable and appealing. This field is incredibly diverse. Pretty much anything you’ve seen that required design, from offices for sale to brochures handed out at events, probably had a graphic designer behind them.

Graphic design is a highly versatile and creative field and that helps make it one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements. A graphic designer can earn anywhere from $33,000 to $60,000 per year, depending on things like the industry involved and the job requirements.

The pay you might expect for this kind of work can also vary widely depending on the type of industry you end up in. Larger companies will have larger budgets to spend on their advertising and marketing. This might come at the cost of less creative flexibility, but that is a consideration you will need to weigh when looking at job offers.

6. Industrial Designer

Another type of designer that can boast being one of the highest paying jobs with art degree credentials is an industrial designer.

You may not have heard of industrial design before, but you have almost certainly experienced it. These are the folks who design the goods we rely on nearly every day. That can of soap didn’t just appear on the store shelves that way – it was designed that way intentionally.

Industrial design is a very practical field of study for folks with art degrees. The design needs to be clean, efficient, practical, but still eye-catching. A good industrial designer knows how to balance these needs, which at times might seem to come in conflict.

Industrial designers should be good at working with clients who have specific needs and collaborating with others, such as folks in marketing or advertising. Technical knowledge is definitely a bonus if you want to market yourself for one of the highest paying jobs with art degree credentials. Industrial designers earn about $60,000 per year.

7. Store Planner

A store planner is something like an art gallery manager. You are still managing a space, planning displays, and helping to organize. A store planner is one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements, earning more than $70,000 per year, on average.

Store planning comes in many forms. You might be planning out a kitchen design store, a game store, a fashion boutique, or anything in between. If you have particular knowledge and interest in specific industries, you may be able to leverage that for this kind of job. It will depend on the specifics of the job and the store in question.

No matter what kind of store you plan for, you should be able to collaborate in order to share your vision with others. A good store planner does more than just design in a vacuum. You also need to be able to communicate that design to your clients.

It is also important that you can multi-task. You might need to manage a team of designers, communicate with clients and sketch out plans all at the same time. This requires someone who is cool under pressure and can juggle multiple tasks and requests at once.

8. User Experience Designer

Finally, there are user experience designers, who earn upwards of $90,000 per year, on average. This makes user experience design easily one of the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements.

A user experience designer is the person who ensures a website is usable, functional, and understandable for users. This might sound simple, but it requires someone who is not only highly knowledgeable in design, but also able to put themselves in the shoes of the user.

For example, you might need to think one way in order to design a website about a popular card game, but an entirely different way to design a website around a hospital. These are very different sorts of users, with very different needs when they click on that website. Being versatile in your thinking can help you cater to the needs of your core demographic of users.

As a user experience designer, you will have to test websites, create wireframes for site design, and collaborate across the creation of a website with partners in marketing and other teams. Being able to work in a team is a big bonus for this kind of work, as there could be many cooks in the kitchen all trying to get their specific needs met with this website. It can be a demanding job, but that is why it is among the highest paying jobs with art degree requirements.

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