Top 10 Jobs for an Artist

Job opportunities in the arts are expected to increase by 11% according to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts. Doesn’t seem like a big number? Try two million. That’s how many people are expected to work in art-related industries within the next few years. Throw that at Mom and Dad next time they try to say it’s not too late to switch into pre-medicine.

With so many opportunities opening up, it can be hard to choose the best industry to go into. This list, though hardly exhaustive, gives a rough idea of the top industries to elbow into with an art degree.


Graphic Design

Graphic design requires a wide variety of skills, from being able to create a drawing to converting it to a digital file and being able to manipulate it on a computer. Demand for talent in this particular career track is high, and will continue to increase.

Key Skills:

  • IT: It is impossible to become a graphic designer without intensive training in various kinds of software and programs aimed at this specific profession. The benefits of this are that computer skills can nowadays be transferred to nearly any other profession, in case career plans change.
  • Fine Arts: It’s desirable for graphic designers to have some talent or experience in drawing, painting, or photography. In addition, fine arts courses will develop the ability to tell what will be aesthetically pleasing, also known as spider-sense.
  • Corporate: Many graphic designers are self-employed, meaning they need to know all about networking, finance, and marketing. Those that find steady work with a larger company still need the ability to meet deadlines, manage their time, build their network, deal with clients, and work on a budget.



With 3-D animation looking to be the next “big thing” in entertainment, animators are in high demand. They can work on a contract with a studio, but many do freelance work. It usually involves irregular hours, high-pressure situations, and working as part of a team.

Key Skills

  • IT: Extensive experience and training in various animation programs are absolutely essential for the aspiring animator, and the more the better.
  • Fine Art: Conceptual art is still a necessity, and animators are still expected to have the imagination and creativity of Picasso even when working with computers.
  • Cinematography: Though undoubtedly working with a director, the animator becomes the camera crew and actors in animated films, and this requires the ability to sense what will look nice, where, and what the director wants to see. It also involves knowing how to portray emotions in motion- they control how the “actors” move and express themselves.



Like graphic design, architecture design requires a wide range of skills. The main difference is that even in the digital age, most architecture renditions are done by hand. They are, of course, digitalized and manipulated by computer, but blueprints and conceptual art is still hand-drawn. Architects are often self-employed, or employed by a larger company of architects.

Key Skills:

  • IT: Knowledge of CAD programs is absolutely essential in architecture. Successful architects know CAD inside-and-out. It should be more familiar than the back of their hand.
  • Fine Art: In most cases, a preliminary drawing or sketch of the structure will be hand-drawn, as will concept art for the final product.
  • Math: Architects must be able to think logically and analytically. Measurements and blueprints are absolutely precise, and building information should be accurately calculated based on this information.
  • Business: Often self-employed, architects need skills in client service, budgeting, and managing a team.


Interior Design

Most interior designers are self-employed, working freelance from home or an office, and travel to on-site locations. As with architects, interior designers should be proficient in both computer and fine art skills, and have the ability to empathize with what their client wants.

Key Skills:

  • IT: Is anyone noticing a pattern here? CAD is essential for interior design, as well.
  • Fine Art: For ease of communicating with clients, the ability to draw or sketch the concepts envisioned are desirable.
  • Business: Experience with budgeting, marketing, and management skills is advisable. Interior designers often work with architects on projects, so they should work well in a team.


Landscape Architecture/Design

Often employed as part of a landscaping or architect firm, demand for landscape architecture is increasing, presumably because fences are no longer “in” and everyone is sick of feeling judged by the neighbors.

Key Skills:

  • IT: Learn CAD. Just learn it, alright?
  • Fine Art: Just as with interior design and architecture, it’s essential that one portrays to clients, on paper, what their vision is.
  • Botany: Landscape designers work with plants on a daily basis. A thorough understanding of aesthetic native plants is essential, as well as how much care these plants will need.



Museum curators essentially manage entire museums. Their work is usually permanent, with benefits such as health insurance often added to their steady paycheck. Significantly business-oriented, demand for curators is expected to increase significantly over the next decade, and unlike most other art careers, it’s a steady job.

Key Skills:

  • Business: Since a museum is, essentially, an art business, skills in management, budgeting, and marketing are considered essential.
  • Art (General): Most curators have extensive knowledge of art as a study. They know the history of pieces, how to organize and classify different works, and how to tailor displayed art to the locale.


Art Conservation

Museums around the world are constantly looking for the best and brightest in art conservation to preserve their billion-dollar pieces for generations to come. This job involves working with particularly old or damaged pieces, and restoring them to their original form, or preserving them as they are.

Key Skills

  • Chemistry: Museums don’t just unleash failed painters with buckets of chemicals on their most valuable works. Knowledge of the chemicals used for conservation is essential, as is knowledge of the chemicals existing in the art work.
  • Fine Art: Though actual skill in fine art isn’t essential, the fine hand movements and attention to details that it develops are.
  • Research: This rather academic field requires those involved to engage in active research on new conservation techniques, art history, and almost anything else on-command.


Art Education

Art education allows scholars to specialize in certain areas or types of art, without necessarily having any talent. The desire to teach, however, cannot be taught, and only a certain few have the patience to pick through their hair for macaroni noodles night after night.

Key Skills:

  • Education: Obtaining either a BFA in Art Education or a Masters in Teaching is usually a requirement, and most states require licenses to teach in the public school system. Private schools or lessons don’t require these qualifications, but it’s desirable.
  • Fine Arts: Whether teaching professionals or preschoolers, art educators must have knowledge of many varying art techniques and how to effectively use them.


Art Therapy

More and more, the boundaries of this experimental field are being tested. Art therapists are often self-employed, working from an office, and are constantly researching their craft. For those interested in the psychology of art, this field will be opening up more in the coming decade, creating plenty of spaces for recent graduates.

Key Skills:

  • Art (General): In art therapy, an understanding of the general practices of art is usually required.
  • Psychology: This is the “therapy” part of art therapy. To put art therapy into practice, a doctorate in psychology or psychotherapy is usually required by law.



Coloring isn’t just for kindergarteners anymore. Most illustrators are self-employed, though a fortunate few work for publishing companies full-time. Once established, illustration becomes quite a lucrative business. Illustrators may have a specialty, for instance academic illustrations in textbooks. These posts will require additional training in that specific area.

Key Skills:

  • Fine Art: Illustrators are tasked with making explanations clear to even the most illiterate of audiences. The ability to communicate through art is essential, and skills should include drawing, painting, and photography.
  • IT: Illustrators should be Photoshop-proficient, and understand how to manipulate images in multiple digital formats.

Let’s not forget that technological advances can also affect the arts- it’s only due to technology that areas such as graphic design exist. Keep practicing those IT skills, because they’ll probably be responsible for your next hundred paychecks. Who knows? The next frontier in art has to be discovered sometime. The more technology is experimented with, the more opportunities will arise for someone to make something new out of it.