Copyright

Artist Education Requirements and Career Information

Artists use an ever-expanding array of methods and materials to put their thoughts and emotions into tangible form. Their work may be realistic and representational of people, places and events, or it may be highly abstract. The majority of artists are self-employed, while others find work in industries such as digital and print publishing, advertising, video game development and motion pictures. Teaching, at all educational levels, is another career option for artists.

View 4 Popular Schools »

Artist Education Requirements

Artistry is an ability that comes naturally to many, so formal education isn't always required for a career as an artist. However, many artists find that education and training can help them fine-tune techniques or learn specialized skills that may make them more employable. For example, a 3-D animator needs training in the computer programs used to create 3-D animation, and an elementary school art teacher needs a bachelor's degree in art and a teaching certificate.

Art Degree Programs

Formal art education and training may be obtained in several ways. Many colleges and universities offer programs leading to a bachelor's or master's degree in fine arts. Additionally, there are postsecondary, independent schools of art and design that offer studio training in multimedia arts, as well as fine arts and crafts. Programs at these schools may lead to a certificate in an artistic specialty or to an associate's or bachelor's degree in fine arts. Independent art school instruction tends to focus on studio work, while university and college programs also emphasize academics.

Accreditation

The National Association of Schools in Art and Design (NASAD) has accredited approximately 294 institutions that offer educational programs in art and design. Most of these accredited programs lead to a degree in art. NASAD also establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate art education (nasad.arts-accredit.org).

Courses

Art curriculum includes not only courses in studio art and art history, but also instruction in core subjects, such as science and English. Because computer graphics and other visual display software are increasingly used in visual arts, many art programs now include computer training.

Career Information

There are many types of art and artists, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides working artists into four general categories: fine artists (a group that includes painters, illustrators and sculptors), multimedia artists and animators, craft artists and art directors. In addition, cartoonists, print-makers, painting restorers and sketch artists all have art-related careers.

Job Description

Fine artists produce original artwork, using paint, acrylics, charcoal, ink, clay, plaster, metal and other materials. Some of their work is commission-based and may be displayed in museums, private galleries or in corporate and private collections. Craft artists work with a broad range of materials, including glass, ceramics, fabric and pottery, to produce mostly handmade original objects and reproductions that they sell in their studios, stores or at arts and crafts shows.

Art directors work in advertising and publishing, developing concepts and selecting designs that appear in printed or digital media. In addition, multimedia artists and animators work chiefly in the motion picture or video gaming industries, with other jobs available in advertising or computer programming.

Career Options

Typically, artists hired by companies start out by doing routine work as they build their skills and observe other artists at work. Craft and fine artists build their reputations and increase their earning potential by circulating their work and making a name for themselves in a particular style.

Many artists do freelance work while they are still in school or hold full-time jobs in other occupations. Freelancing gives artists the opportunity to gain experience and establish themselves in the profession, build a client base and create a portfolio that showcases their talents and skills. Developing a specialty, such as illustrating children's books or cartooning, is another path some artists take to professional advancement and higher income.

Salary

According to the BLS, about 60% of all artists are self-employed, with salaries that vary widely. Some self-employed artists earn more than do salaried artists, while others cannot support themselves solely from their art. Of the artists who weren't self-employed, art directors made the highest salaries, with median annual wages of $76,980 in 2008. Multimedia artists and animators came in next, with median annual wages of $56,330. Fine artists made median annual wages of $42,650, while craft artists had the lowest median annual wages of the group, at $29,080 (www.bls.gov).

Employment Outlook

Both salaried and self-employed artists can expect strong competition for jobs, predicted the BLS, because the number of creative people who want to work as artists is much greater than the number of job openings. Job growth in the occupation as a whole was expected to be about as fast as average, or 12%, from 2008-2018.

Show me popular schools

Related to Artist

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Seeing Things Differently: Artist Chuck Close

Chuck Close is famous for painting unusual, large-scale portraits of faces that retain extraordinary realism even when broken...

Artist Vs. Illustrator: What's the Difference?

Technically, an illustrator is an artist. But there are many different types of artists, including illustrators. Keep reading...

Licensed Tattoo Artist: Job Description and Education Requirements

Tattoo artists typically exhibit a love of tattooing, along with creative talent and a desire to work with people. A...

Become a Visual Artist: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a visual artist. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you...

Become a Comic Book Artist: Education and Career Roadmap

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
        • BFA - Fine Art
        • BFA in Art Education
        • BFA in Undeclared
    • 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)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    What is your classroom preference?

  • 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

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics