Careers with a BFA: What To Do with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree

Bachelor's degree programs in fine arts typically cover creative endeavors such as writing, theater and crafts. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates.

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Essential Information

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) have completed a course load that's two-thirds arts classes - whether in visual arts or writing - because the BFA is an artist's professional degree. By comparison, a Bachelor of Arts program with an art major has a course load that is about one-third arts classes. According to the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, the BFA degree prepares students well for professional careers in the arts. Most programs include classroom courses along with many hours of creative practice.

CareerArt TeacherWriterFine Artist
Education Requirements BFA with a teacher education program BFA in Creative Writing BFA in Studio Art
Licensing Public schools require a teaching license or certification N/A N/A
Projected Job Growth (2012-22)*12% for elementary and middle school teachers; 6% for high school teachers 3% for writers and authors4% for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators
Median Salary (2013)*$53,590 for elementary teachers; $53,940 for middle school teachers; $55,360 for high school teachers $57,750 for writers and authors $42,610 for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Options

Graduates holding a BFA may find careers as craft or fine artists, multimedia artists, actors, art directors, art teachers or writers. Students studying for this degree usually pursue majors like ceramics, creative writing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, studio art, theater or art education.

Art Teacher

BFA graduates with an art education major may be qualified to teach art in elementary, middle or secondary school if they earn a teaching certificate too. The program also prepares them for continued master's degree study that may be required by state education departments. Art education majors learn how to introduce kids to basic concepts in art, from hands-on activities in various artistic media to art history and art criticism.

According to predictions from the BLS, a 12% job growth rate is expected for elementary and middle school teachers from 2012-2022, while opportunities for high school teachers should increase by around 6%. In 2013, the BLS indicated that elementary teachers earned a median wage of $53,590 per year, middle school teachers $53,940 per year and high school teachers $55,360 per year.

Writer

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing may find jobs as journalists, technical writers, copywriters or freelance writers. They can work for advertising or public relations agencies and publishers, drawing on their educational experience in writing within assigned guidelines, working with others and meeting deadlines.

Writers and authors are expected to see a 3% employment increase between 2012 and 2022, as per BLS projections. Technical writers, on the other hand, are predicted to experience a job growth rate of 15% during the same time period. The BLS reports that in 2013, authors and writers earned a median income of $57,750 per year, while technical writers brought in a median yearly salary of $67,900.

Fine Artist

Fine artists in training typically earn a BFA degree in studio art. They may choose a concentration in sculpture, painting, illustration, photography or printmaking. Studio art coursework refines artists' technical skills and creative talents and guides them to develop their own artistic style.

These graduates may become sculptors, painters, illustrators or printmakers. They may work independently, displaying and selling work through their studios or art galleries. Fine artists may also work for commercial art studios, design companies, publishers or ad agencies. Some pursue freelance work or accept commissions. The BLS said these artists were earning a median wage of $42,610 a year in 2013 and should see an employment growth of 4% during the 2012-2022 decade.

Craft Artist

With the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in majors like ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, textile design or fiber arts, craft artists show and sell handmade pieces and artwork in a variety of venues. Freelancing and working on commissioned projects is also possible. BFA classes allow students to pursue their area of interest in-depth and prove their ability to meet deadlines. Learners usually work out of owned or shared studio space.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed the median annual salary for craft artists at $30,400 in 2013. The BLS projects that craft artists will see a 3% increase in job opportunities between 2012 and 2022.

Multimedia Artist

Using hand-drawn or computer-generated images, multimedia majors who graduate with BFA degrees can create animation sequences or storyboards. They work for ad agencies or for software, gaming, film or television companies. Multimedia artists use skills they've learned in art, computer and design classes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), multimedia artists can expect a slower-than-average job growth rate of 6% between 2012 and 2022. In 2013, their median annual salary was $64,470, the BLS indicates.

Art Director

Graphic design or multimedia design majors who graduate with Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees and gain work experience can also become art directors. They've developed technical competence in computer art and design in BFA classes. Successful graduates also have proven ability to meet deadlines.

An art director typically guides the development of visual and written material through layout and design of artwork and copy. Art directors often work for ad agencies or publishing companies. The BLS indicates that art director opportunities are expected to increase 3% from 2012 to 2022, with a median yearly wage of $83,000 reported for the profession in 2013.

Actor

Theatre majors who concentrate in acting and graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree can pursue careers on the screen or the stage. The classes they've taken helped them develop acting and performance skills. Job growth is expected to be slower than average from 2012 through 2022, according to the BLS, and actors can expect that hopeful applicants will significantly outnumber the available roles. BLS data from 2013 reflected a median hourly wage for actors at that time of $22.15.

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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
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