Artist: Career Education for Professional Artists

Professional artists have different career options that depend on their field of interest. Many individuals choose to earn a bachelor's degree at either an art school or a traditional college, although some careers may require additional education.

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Educational Requirements for Professional Artists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many artists develop their skills through a bachelor's or master's degree program in art or design (www.bls.gov). These programs incorporate coursework in art techniques, history of art and other subjects in the humanities with hands-on learning, often leading to the completion of a portfolio.

Degree Programs

Students may consider traditional colleges and independent art schools. Independent art schools offer Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree programs in specific professional areas, such as illustration or photography, which many traditional colleges may not offer. Independent schools can offer students benefits such as on-campus museums, continuing education and visiting professionals.

Individuals interested in administrative jobs or teaching at colleges may need to complete a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program. These programs allow students flexibility with extensive studio and professional practice sessions. Some MFA programs offer students the opportunity to prepare a graduate exhibition or portfolio rather than a thesis.

Career Information for Professional Artists

Professional artists may work as craft artists, fine artists, cartoonists, sketch artists, printmakers, multimedia artists, multimedia animators or illustrators. They can be self-employed or work for companies in art-related industries. Advertising agencies, textbook companies and museums are among the employers for professional artists.

Job Outlook

According to the BLS, employment for multimedia artists is projected to increase by 6% from 2012-2022 which is a slightly slower than average rate of growth for all occupations during this time period. The outlook for professional artists as a whole varies by specialty, with most types of artists also projected to experience slower than average rates of growth over the same decade. The BLS noted that most professional artists face keen competition for jobs.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for craft artists in May of 2013 was $30,400. Fine artists earned a median salary of $42,610 at that time and multimedia artists and animators made $64,470.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Colorado (1 campus)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate in 3D Animation - Pre-Production
        • Certificate in 3D Animation - Character Animation

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Florida (1 campus)
    • Texas (1)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Advanced Multimedia Development Certificate
        • Multimedia Development Certificate

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Georgia include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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