It's absolutely possible to turn your passion for art into a professional career that you can make a decent living doing. Many rewarding career paths require artistic skills. Wondering if there's one that's right for you? Explore 30 cool art jobs for inspiration. You just might identify your ideal art-related career path.
List of 30 Real Art Careers With Salaries
Before you take a deep dive into specific art careers, it's a good idea to get a sense of pay expectations. The compensation amounts listed below are based on 2022 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Salary.com, PayScale, and Comparably. They represent median or average annual pay within the specified (or a very similar) job title. More information about each listed job is provided below the chart.
|Job Title||Career Category||Pay Expectations|
|Video Game Designer||Animation||$66,000|
|Art Gallery Director||Art Business||$65,000|
|Art Gallery Curator||Art Business||$48,000|
|Art Consultant||Art Business||$43,000|
|Art Appraiser||Art Business||$52,000|
|Artist Agent||Art Business||$63,000|
|Art Auctioneer||Art Business||$68,000|
|Museum Director||Art Museum||$74,000|
|Museum Curator||Art Museum||$62,000|
|Art Archivist||Art Museum||$52,000|
|Museum Conservator||Art Museum||$50,000|
|Museum Educator||Art Museum||$36,000|
|College Art Professor||Art Education||$70,000|
|K-12 Art Teacher||Art Education||$48,000|
|Private Art Teacher/Tutor||Art Education||$38,000|
|Arts Organization Fundraiser||Public Interest||$59,000|
|Police Sketch Artist||Public Interest||$50,000|
|Art Therapist||Public Interest||$47,000|
|Portrait Artist||Working Artist||$69,000|
|Tattoo Artist||Working Artist||$42,000|
|Professional Crafter||Working Artist||$33,000|
Art Careers in Advertising/Marketing
There are many opportunities for talented artists to work in advertising and marketing, in roles that involve building brands or promoting products or services. These jobs typically require formal education in art or marketing.
Art directors oversee the overall visual design strategy for the companies or clients with whom they work. They often work in advertising agencies, marketing departments, magazines, or video production services. Art directors are responsible for visual appeal and brand consistency. They determine the tone of projects and guide the overall creative team to create the necessary artwork and page or website layouts. The annual median salary for art directors is around $97,000.
Graphic designers bring creative concepts to life by designing layouts for advertisements, logos, brochures, websites, billboards, and other promotional materials. This includes tasks like selecting the fonts, colors, graphics, text, and headings to use. They need to be highly skilled with graphic arts applications like Illustrator and Photoshop. They usually work under the supervision of an art director or marketing director. The annual median pay for graphic designers is about $53,000 per year.
Web designers use their artistic skills to create the visual appearance of websites. They are responsible for designing websites that are consistent with the organization's overall brand and laid out in a way that is easy for users to navigate. They work collaboratively with other members of the digital marketing team and the information technology professionals who will be tasked with coding what they design. The average pay for web designers is about $53,000 per year.
A logo designer is a graphic designer specializing in one type of work. Most companies don't have a logo designer on staff, but advertising agencies and marketing departments often contract with freelance logo designers to help to create or update logos. This work is often done as part of a brand or image update, so fresh eyes from an artist outside the regular team can be very beneficial for this kind of creative work. On average, logo designers earn around $52,000 per year.
Production artists use graphic arts applications to prepare visual designs for final production. For example, a production artist will enter employees' details into a pre-designed, approved business card layout prior to printing or will edit display ads with location-specific details, such as the address or operating hours. They also make sure that collateral materials, like brochures and posters, meet production requirements. The average pay for production artists is around $50,000 per year.
Art Careers in Animation
If you like the idea of bringing your artwork to life through motion and you have the computer and design skills to make that happen, then computer animation might be right for you. Animation professionals often work in movie, television, or video game production. These jobs usually require formal training in computer animation.
Effects animators are sometimes referred to as visual effects or special effects animators. They create the unique effects, environments, and settings featured in live-action video productions when what needs to be depicted can't be captured simply by filming reality. If you've seen a realistic-looking movie set in space or on another planet, you have viewed the work of effects animators. The average pay for effects animators is about $77,000 per year.
Video Game Designers
People who design video games use a unique combination of artistic, digital, and storytelling skills to create engaging multimedia experiences that will appeal to gaming enthusiasts. They work on every aspect of a game, from the initial concept through development and testing to ongoing tweaking of the animated interface. They work as part of a team that includes developers, writers, and quality assurance professionals. Video game designers earn an average of around $66,000 per year.
A character animator specializes in bringing characters to life in animated productions, ranging from full-length features to 30-second commercials. They are responsible for ensuring that animated characters convey personality and emotion via their mannerisms, facial expressions, and movements. Their goal is to make the characters they design as realistic as possible. The average pay for character animators is around $65,000 per year.
Art Business Careers
If you're an artistic individual who's also business-minded, consider exploring the specialized opportunities in the business of art. Jobs in this field involve working with galleries or selling artwork on behalf of artists or sellers.
Art Gallery Director
Art gallery directors may be hired to manage a gallery or may own the galleries that they oversee. They function as operations managers for art galleries, with duties varying based on the size of the gallery and how many other employees work there. Art gallery directors are operations managers who are responsible for all aspects of the business, from hiring and supervision to artist and buyer relations, as well as bottom-line results. On average, art gallery directors earn around $65,000 per year.
Art Gallery Curator
In an art gallery, a curator is responsible for procuring artwork to display, which involves networking with local artists and selecting which artists will be invited to show (and hopefully sell) their work through the gallery. Gallery curators are also responsible for overseeing art installations and displays, as well as coordinating showings and other special events. The average pay for an art gallery curator is around $48,000 per year. Art gallery curators have dual roles as sales consultants.
In an art gallery, sales professionals are typically referred to as art consultants. They work closely with clients who are searching for fine art pieces to invest in or to purchase for decorating or display purposes. They must have strong consultative selling skills in addition to being able to identify works of art that meet clients' needs. The median pay for art consultants is around $43,000 per year. The most lucrative jobs are in big cities where wealthy collectors shop for fine art pieces.
An artist agent functions as a business manager for working artists. They represent the artists on their client lists by promoting and selling their work. Artist agents must understand the art world and be able to secure and negotiate individual sales, commissions of custom work, and gallery shows. Most artist agents are self-employed and work on a commission basis, which means they are paid only when they close sales. The median compensation for artist agents is around $63,000 per year.
An art auctioneer evaluates, assesses, and assigns value to works of art that will be sold in a manner designed to secure the highest possible selling price. They must be knowledgeable about art and be able to conduct sales via live and/or online auctions. Art auctioneers typically work at an auction house or for a company that specializes in art or estate auctions. Some work on cruise ships. The average pay for art auctioneers is about $68,000 per year. Their compensation is usually commission-based.
Art appraisers analyze individual pieces of art and collections in order to determine how much they are worth. Some art appraisers work for companies that insure individual pieces of art or collections, though many are self-employed professionals who contract with artists or art investors to provide valuation services. Specialized education and certification are generally required. The median earnings for art appraisers are around $52,000 per year.
Art Careers in Museums
If you are passionate about fine art and like the idea of working in the nonprofit sector, you may find that your perfect career takes place inside an art museum. These positions typically require higher education in art, art history, or a related field. Some roles require an advanced degree.
Art Museum Director
Since museums are nonprofit organizations, the duties of an art museum director are similar to that of other nonprofit directors. They are the highest level manager at the museum, so they are responsible for all aspects of day-to-day operations, such as personnel, facilities, and financial management, plus overseeing fundraising efforts. They must, of course, be knowledgeable about art. The average annual compensation for museum directors is around $74,000.
Art Museum Curator
Curators who work in art museums are responsible for collecting and cataloging works of art, as well as organizing and coordinating collections and displays. Curators are involved in acquiring pieces for the museum's collection. They also coordinate the process of entering into loan agreements with other facilities or private collectors to place items on display as part of temporary exhibits. The average compensation for museum curators is around $62,000 per year.
A museum art archivist is concerned with documenting and properly storing works of art. They have to have expertise in art preservation and know how to properly catalog an extensive art collection. Archivists keep meticulous records related to the museum's art collection, adding new procurements as acquisitions are made. This type of job may require a degree in library science in addition to art expertise. The annual median salary for art archivists is around $52,000.
Art museum conservators are responsible for preserving and restoring works of art. They ensure that pieces in the museum's collection are properly treated and displayed or stored to minimize deterioration over time. When pieces become damaged or the museum receives art that is in need of repair, conservators restore it as best they can and take steps to stop further damage. The average pay for art conservators is around $50,000 per year.
Art Museum Educator
Art museum educators coordinate educational programs and services provided by the museum. They develop educational materials and deliver informative presentations at the museum or in local schools or at community events. They organize and oversee school field trips to the museum and other types of educational events that take place at the museum. The average pay for museum educators is around $36,000 per year.
Art Education Careers
Working as a museum educator isn't the only career option for people who want to teach others about art. Working as an art professor, teacher, or librarian requires extensive education and specialized credentials, though it's also possible to offer art lessons as an entrepreneur.
College Art Professor
College and university art professors teach field-specific classes to art majors and general education classes to students who are majoring in other fields of study. They also conduct academic research and coordinate student exhibits on campus. Colleges and universities generally require art professors to have doctoral degrees, though a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) may be sufficient for adjunct (part-time) roles. The average pay for full-time art professors is around $70,000 per year.
K-12 Art Teacher
Working as a school system art teacher is a great way to develop and encourage young artists and to instill a love of art in kids of all ages. School-based art teachers work with students of varying grade levels, usually offering classes to each grade in the elementary or secondary school to which they are assigned. This job requires a degree in education and an art-specific teaching license in the state where the school is located. The average annual pay for art teachers is $48,000 per year.
Private Art Teacher/Tutor
If you want to teach art and like the idea of working for yourself, consider going to work as a private art teacher or tutor. People who do this kind of work offer a variety of services, such as teaching art lessons to adults, holding after-school private art lessons for children, or offering art-focused summer programs. Earnings vary based on fee structure and amount of work. Full-time private art teachers can earn around $37,000 per year. This can be a good part-time gig to supplement other art jobs.
Art Careers in the Public Interest
Education isn't the only type of art career that provides artistic individuals with an opportunity to earn a living while serving the public interest in the communities where they live and work. From nonprofit organizations to law enforcement to mental health services, art impacts many aspects of a community.
Arts Organization Fundraisers
Most arts organizations are not-for-profit charitable entities, which means that they rely on donations in order to provide services to the community. These organizations usually employ fundraising professionals, who are responsible for the group's efforts to raise money to support arts-related programs or projects. This type of job involves special event fundraising, running capital campaigns, and grant writing. The average pay for professional fundraisers is around $50,000 per year.
Police Sketch Artist
Police work may not be the first thing that comes to mind for artistic individuals looking for career ideas, but law enforcement agencies do often rely on the work of police sketch artists, also known as forensic sketch artists. Some forensics teams employ full-time sketch artists, while freelance sketch artists contract with law enforcement agencies when their services are needed. The average pay for this unique occupation is around $50,000 per year.
Art therapists are mental health professionals who incorporate art into therapy or counseling treatment plans. In order to work in this field, you'll need a master's degree in art therapy, counseling, or a closely related field, and you also need to meet your state's licensure requirements for therapists. You'll also need to be certified by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). Some art therapists work for mental health agencies, while others go into private practice. The average pay is around $47,000 per year.
Career Options for Working Artists
Are you looking for a career idea that will allow you to earn a living by directly using your artistic talents? While it can be challenging to make a living as a working artist, it can be done. Explore the options below for inspiration.
A portrait artist specializes in creating original drawings or paintings of people. They can create portraits of individuals or groups, such as families or couples. Portrait artists typically work independently, providing services to clients who commission them to create portraits from photos or via in-person sittings. Some portrait artists have agents who find clients for them. Working portrait artists can earn an average of $69,000 per year.
Illustrators use their artistic skills to create two-dimensional representations of objects or concepts in the form of drawings or paintings. Some illustrators work in the fashion design industry or pursue other creative pursuits, while others produce highly detailed technical medical illustrations. Many illustrators work on a freelance or custom commission basis. Some have agents who connect them with clients. The median annual pay for illustrators is around $63,000.
For an artist who also loves body art, working as a tattoo artist is a great career path to pursue. Some tattoo artists go into business for themselves, while others go to work for an existing tattoo shop. This type of work involves helping clients choose designs, then injecting ink under clients' skin to apply permanent designs onto their bodies. Tattoo artists earn around $42,000 per year, on average. Licensure is required in some states.
Photography is a great career option for artistic individuals with an entrepreneurial nature and strong photo editing skills. Wedding photographers are in high demand, as are photographers who style and shoot product photos for print or digital advertising campaigns. Some professional photographers specialize in fine arts photography, which they sell online, in galleries, or via art shows. The median pay for professional photographers is around $41,000 per year.
If you use your art skills to create hand-crafted works of art, you may be able to start your own arts and crafts business. Whether you are skilled at creating sculptures, pottery, textiles, or blown glass, or if you work in another medium, you may be able to build a successful business selling your work online, in local gift shops, and/or via crafts shows. Professional crafters earn around $33,000 per year, on average.
Several Exciting Art Careers to Consider
Are you surprised to learn that there are so many interesting career options in the field of art, many of which pay very well? There are a lot of great options on the list above, but the careers listed here aren't the only options to consider. Put your creative nature to work to brainstorm how you can combine your artistic skills with your other interests and abilities in the workplace. You might come up with even more ideas for ways to procure a paycheck while pursuing your passion.