If you find beautiful paintings captivating and your fingers are just itching to be wrapped around a paintbrush, a career as a painter may be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more about career options and salaries for fine artists, as well as how much education you'll need to work in the field.

Is Painting for Me?

Career Overview

Professional artists, such as painters, use acrylics, oils and watercolors to create 2-dimensional works on canvas or other surfaces. As a painter, you'll experiment with color and different types of genres, including abstracts, figurative representations and landscapes, either for commissions or as a means of self expression. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of fine art is a highly competitive one, and it may be difficult to support yourself solely through the sale of your work. For this reason, many artists support themselves with part-time or full-time employment in a related field, while painting on the side (

Career Options and Salary Information

As a graduate of a formal fine arts program, you may be employed as an art dealer in a gallery, or conserve and restore paintings in a museum. Additional education or experience may qualify you for a position as an advertising art director or art teacher, as well as a job with an art-related organization. According to the BLS in May 2012, fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, had a median annual wage of $44,850. Nationwide, a slower-than-average increase in employment is expected for fine artists from 2012 to 2022, as reported by the BLS (

How Can I Become a Painter?

Education and Training Options

While many artists begin with an innate talent for painting, they may also pursue formal training through art courses and programs. As an aspiring painter, you might find classes at your local community college on online. Alternatively, you may pursue a fine arts degree with a concentration in painting. Admission to art school can be competitive and may be partially based on a portfolio of your best work.

As an art major, some painters opt for a less specialized, more comprehensive degree program, which allows them to study a wider variety of art topics. Regardless of the program you choose, you'll most likely take classes in abstract, figurative and landscape painting, color, drawing and design. You'll also learn how to work with composition, line, form and space while becoming a keen observer of the world around you. In addition to taking survey courses in art history, you'll analyze the work of historical and contemporary painters and train in a variety of painting techniques. Hands-on studio courses will also provide you with the opportunity to build your portfolio.

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