What Are Common Entry Level Careers for Art Major Graduates?

A career in art can be as diverse as the artistic concentrations and specializations available to art majors. To learn more about the job duties and requirements for art careers, from fine artist to graphic designer, read on. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Common Entry-Level Careers for Art Major Graduates

There are a myriad of entry-level careers for art major graduates, depending on your field of study and expertise. In this report, we've discussed the pathways of being a fine artist, art teacher, graphic designer, museum curator, photographer or multimedia artist.

Important Facts About Entry-Level Careers for Art Major Graduates

On-the-job training Internships, apprenticeships, and informal observation of more experienced artists are common
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, interpersonal skills, dexterity
Work Environment Office and studio settings; can be full time, but may also be freelance or per piece
Similar Occupations Desktop publishers, craft artists, fashion designers; anthropologists and archaeologists; art directors, computer programmers

Fine Artist

Fine artists create works for museums or for sale to the public. Some of the work you produce as a fine artist could be commissioned, or done at the behest of a client, including private individuals and businesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you could experience stiff competition as a fine artist; for this reason, many fine artists hold additional jobs in fields both related and unrelated to art. Working in this field generally doesn't require formal schooling, although you may take art classes at a school or learn from an experienced fine artist.

The BLS projects craft and fine artist employment to increase by six percent over the decade that spans 2016-2026. These artists earned a median wage of $48,960 in May 2018.

Art Teacher

If you want to teach art at the grade school or high school level, you'll need to earn a teaching certificate in addition to your art degree. You can usually accomplish this by double majoring in both art and education, although in some cases you may be able to earn an alternative teaching certificate as a bachelor's degree holder.

According to the BLS, middle school teachers will experience average job growth of 8 percent over the 2016-2026 decade, while high school teachers will experience similar growth. In May 2019, PayScale.com reported that art teachers in general earned a median wage of $44,002.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use a variety of media to convey messages, whether in newspapers, magazines, journals, online publications, Web pages and more. You, as a graphic designer, might produce print advertisements, marketing brochures, logos and other signage. To work in this career, a bachelor's degree related to graphic design is commonly required, and you should also have a portfolio of your work.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for graphic designers as of May 2018 was $50,370. Four percent job growth is estimated over the 2016-2026 decade.

Museum Curator or Archivist

As a museum curator or archivist, you may categorize works of art, create displays and educate the public about museum collections. If you worked in the archivist position, you'd probably research art objects to validate their authenticity and worth. Before obtaining one of these positions, you might assist curators and archivists or work as a guide. The BLS notes that some fine artists are also museum curators and directors.

To work in either of these roles, you'll typically need a master's degree. While archivists may study library science or history, curators may study history, art or museum studies. The BLS estimates faster-than-average growth of 14 percent for archivists and curators over the 2016-2026 decade. In May 2018, curators earned a median wage of $53,780 while archivists earned a median wage of $52,240.


Photography involves more than simply pointing a camera and pushing a button. For example, as a portrait photographer, you have to know how to frame a photo for a customer, while as a news photographer, you must understand how to capture a whole story in a photo. Many photographers work as independent contractors, whether for studios or news organizations. You may have to invest a significant amount of money in equipment before you begin work in this field.

Although it's not a requirement, you may take photography classes at a college, or you could pursue a bachelor's degree. A decline in jobs of six percent is expected for this field from 2016-2026, according to the BLS, and the median wage for photographers in May 2018 was $34,000.

Multimedia Artist

Multimedia artists use video, film, audio and other mediums to create images for a variety of clients, including those in the advertising, video game and computer program industries. You may work independently or as part of a team to first storyboard a project, then see it to completion.

A portfolio and an art-related bachelor's degree are typical requirements for multimedia artists. The BLS notes that multimedia artists had an annual median wage of $72,520 as of May 2018. Average employment growth is 8 percent is expected over the 2016-2026 decade.

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