10 Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

Fastest Online Art and Design Career Programs - featured image

The fastest online art and design careers are just as challenging and rewarding as the art and design jobs that take a longer time to accomplish! The art industry welcomes creative professionals with entry-level, post-secondary art education, such as an associate degree, a diploma, or a certificate, into the fold and enables them to pursue diverse career paths.

Indeed, you can earn an art degree in 12-24 months, such as in graphic design or web design, from one of the best online art schools and get started even before graduation.

Fastest Online Art and Design Career Programs - fact

Check this out for more career information: Art and Design Career Guide

The reason: The best online art schools require art students to create and build a professional portfolio of their works that can be used for employment purposes in the future. You’re not just building your knowledge and skills as part of your art education, but you’re also building proof of it!

You will find that it’s possible to get a foothold in the art industry without a bachelor’s degree and, thus, be part of the fastest art and design careers. 


The fastest art and design careers featured here were selected based on the following criteria: 

  • Individuals interested in the occupations can find entry-level work with a certificate or a diploma, which takes less than 12 months to earn, or a two-year associate degree. In this case, the term “fastest” means the fastest route toward getting a foot in the door of the art industry. 
  • Individuals interested in starting their art and design careers will find plenty of options for earning the best online art degrees suitable for their personal and professional goals. For example, if you’re an aspiring graphic designer, you will find a wide range of online degree programs that align with your goals, from graphic design to multimedia arts. 
  • The occupations must provide art and design professionals with plenty of options in their career choices and career advancement opportunities. For example, a junior-level graphic designer with an associate degree can be a senior graphic designer with relevant work experience and a bachelor’s degree. 

10 Fastest Online Art and Design Careers


Photographers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

With the huge popularity of Instagram and other social media sites, digital photography is considered among the best art careers. Photographers possess both the technical expertise in the use of state-of-the-art technologies and tools as well as the creative skills in the production, preservation, and presentation of images. Indeed, the best photographers can tell a thousand stories with a single image! 

Depending on their craft and preference, photographers can use both traditional film cameras and digital cameras. The beauty of digital cameras is in their compatibility with photo editing/processing software, printers, and storage devices (e.g., flash drives).  Of course, photographers must also possess composition and color theory skills, among others, which allow them to produce eye-catching photos. 

Many photographers also use drones to take photos of landscapes, people, and events from the air.  Photographers also provide related services like framing services while others also teach students about basic and advanced photography. 

There are several types of photographers including aerial photographers, commercial and industrial photographers, and fine arts photographers. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $40,170

How to Become One: While an art degree isn’t necessary to become a professional photographer, many employers require a bachelor’s degree for certain positions (e.g., scientific photographers and photojournalists). Besides, a formal education like a certificate or diploma will be useful in learning the basics of photography. 

Best Degree and Schools: University of Washington Certificate in Photography and University of California Certificate in Photography  

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and Fine Artists Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

With the knowledge of and skills in the manipulation of a wide variety of materials, crafts, and fine artists produce original works of art. Craft artists usually create beautiful objects with functional use, such as glassware and pottery, while fine artists create beautiful objects for the sake of art (e.g., paintings and sculptures). 

Craft and fine artists use old methods for creating artworks and create new ones; notable examples include impressionism, cubism, and kinetic art. Their understanding of the visual arts enables them to create the desired artistic effects by using composition, space perspective, and color in their work. Their works of art can be shown and sold in art galleries, craft fairs, and auctions – and it can be such a lucrative source of income, too. 

Fast Facts:

Median Annual Salary: $53,140

How to Become One: Many successful art and craft artists don’t have art degrees but formal art education is usually useful in their profession. Even a certificate in craft and fine arts can establish a strong foundation in drawing and other aspects of the arts. 

Best Degree and Schools: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Fine Arts Foundation Certificate and SUNY Hudson Valley Community College – Associate of Science (AS) in Fine Arts 

Interior Designers

Interior Designers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

By designing the interior spaces of buildings, such as homes and offices, interior designers have the opportunity to support positive human experiences. Interior designers use the principles and practices of design including materiality, functionality, and safety in their choice of materials, colors, and arrangement for this purpose. Their importance in society lies in the fact that their clients live, play, and work within the interior spaces/works of art that they have created! 

Interior designers must put the “needs and wants” of their clients first when making interior design plans. At its core, interior design is a human-centric profession where the needs and wants of humans come first with the interior space coming in second. Interior designers must also consider inclusivity and accessibility when designing interior spaces and, thus, allow access to everybody. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $61,590

How to Become One: Aspiring interior designers can earn a certificate in interior design, the fastest route, or earn an associate degree in fine arts, interior design, and other related fields. Note that employers may prefer interior designers applying for mid-level positions to possess a bachelor’s degree plus work experience. 

Best Degree and Schools: New York School of Interior Design Basic Interior Design Certificate and Berkeley College Interior Design Certificate 

Graphic Designers

Graphic Designers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

As a graphic designer, your primary goal is to attract the target audience and inspire them to think, act, and decide in the desired manner. You can be part of the army of freelance graphic designers or be an employee of an art and design organization, a marketing company, or a government agency. 

Regardless of choice in employment, graphic designers work with creative directors, copywriters, and other professionals in the production of the final design. Their duties include studying the design briefs, making budgets and project timelines, conceptualizing the preliminary visuals, as well as preparing the rough drafts of logos, illustrations, and other design elements. 

Graphic designers possess technical skills in the use of illustration software and drafting materials, among other design-related tools. Their workday varies depending on their deadlines, workloads, and job titles. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $57,990

How to Become One: Many successful graphic designers used the fastest route of entry into the profession – an associate degree in graphic design, visual arts, and other related fields. 

Best Degree and Schools: Penn Foster Career School Associate in Graphic Design and Rasmussen University Associate in Graphic Design 

Web Designers and Developers

Web Designers and Developers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

Among the design careers, the jobs of web designers and developers are among the most obvious – there are, after all, 5.18 billion Internet users worldwide, or nearly 65% of the world’s population! But while their specific jobs complement each other, their jobs involve different aspects of website creation. 

Web developers are in charge of the technical aspects of websites including their capacity and performance. Web designers are responsible for the digital design of websites including their layout, navigation, and functions. Both professionals meet with their managers and clients to discuss the website’s desired parameters, create and test its features and functions, and design its graphics, audio and video, and layout. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $80,730

How to Become One: Entry-level web designers and developers can possess an associate degree in web design, graphic arts, or digital design, thus making it the fastest way. 

Best Degree and Schools: Champlain College Associate of Science in Web Design and Development and Northcentral Technical College Associate in IT – Web Designer 

Art Teachers

Art Teachers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

By teaching students about the visual arts, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture, art teachers pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation of artists. Art teachers teach the visual arts in a wide range of settings, from public to private schools, from private studios to museums with art programs, and as an independent subject or as a complement to other subjects (e.g., social studies). 

Their specific duties depend on their job title and position, the educational level of their students, and the purpose of the program. Art teachers, nonetheless, plan for their art lessons and deliver them to their students. Their lessons can be directed toward an entire class or for a specific group with individual needs (e.g., newbies or with special needs). 

Art teachers are knowledgeable about the different art styles, mediums, and techniques, as well as possess the skills to demonstrate them to their students. Their skill sets also include the ability to encourage self-expression through creative artworks while also providing objective evaluations of their student’s progress. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $83,220

How to Become One: While being an art teacher in public school settings requires a bachelor’s degree and a state license, an associate degree is the fastest route toward achieving your goal. Possible entry-level art jobs with an associate degree include educational aide and teacher assistant, among other paraeducator positions. 

Best Degree and Schools: Community College of Philadelphia Associate of Arts in Art and Design and Seminole State College of Florida – (AA) Associate in Arts in Art Education

Visual Designers

Visual Designers Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

If you’re into creating striking graphics and other visual design elements for websites and other content, you should consider becoming a visual designer with an associate degree in hand. With sufficient work experience and a relevant bachelor’s degree, you can become an art director with overall responsibility for the visual design of newspapers, magazines, and film and television productions, among others. 

Visual designers work with other creative professionals to carry out every project to fruition by the client’s expectations. Their duties include creating original designs with unique combinations of colors, composition, and fonts; using manual methods and computer-aided design software to refine these original designs; and developing the prototypes for presentations. Visual designers must also be abreast of the latest in visual design technologies and trends. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $57,990

How to Become One: Many visual designers enter the profession with an associate degree in visual arts, graphic design, or other related fields. However, it’s important to create a professional portfolio and develop professional-level skills in visual design software and creative abilities, as well as professionalism. 

Best Degree and Schools: Seattle Central College Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design and Chippewa Valley Technical College Associate in Graphic Design 

Multimedia Artists

Multimedia Artists Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

Such is the diversity of career opportunities that multimedia artists enjoy and theirs is among the most popular design careers! Among their workplaces are animation and special effects companies, advertising organizations, and website development agencies. 

Multimedia artists use computer-aided design software programs to create original animation, illustration, and graphics; develop storyboards for the storylines and their corresponding graphics; and refine the drafts to produce the final product. Their skill sets include the use of animation and special effects software, the creation of visual art using these applications, and the development of scripts for films, videos, and other multimedia projects. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $98,950

How to Become One: Many companies accept multimedia artists with an associate degree in animation, computer graphics, or fine arts for junior entry-level positions. Career advancement, however, usually requires a bachelor’s degree and work experience. 

Best Degree and Schools: Carroll Community College Associate of Applied Science in Computer Graphics and Aims Community College Associate of Applied Science in Animation  

Visual Artist

Visual Artist Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

Where design relies on a combination of art and science, art relies on instinct – and that’s exactly what visual artists use in their artworks. Visual artists create original works of art – or in some cases, reproductions of original artworks or their interpretations – for exhibition in museums, galleries, and public spaces. Many, if not most, of their artworks are intended for sale or are commissioned by clients. 

Visual artists usually choose a specific medium, discipline, and/or genre in their artworks, such as sculpture, painting, or pottery. The best visual artists have even established a signature style that makes their artworks easily recognizable by art collectors. Many of them are also independent creative professionals which allows them to manage their own time and develop their style. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $53,140

How to Become One: There’s no formal art education required to become a visual artist, but it’s a useful qualification because of the technical training provided. Some employers prefer visual artists to possess an associate degree, minimum, for entry-level positions. 

Best Degree and Schools: Howard Community College Associate of Arts in Visual Arts and Catawba Valley Community College Associate in Fine Arts in Visual Arts 


Illustrators Image - Fastest Online Art and Design Careers

Illustrators are multi-talented artistic professionals who can use both traditional and digital tools to create original illustrations that meet their clients’ standards. Their work involves the transformation of ideas into printed illustrations that seek to inform and inspire, among other desired actions. 

Among their skill sets are the use of complex isometric techniques, computer-aided software, and illustration software. Their transferable skills, such as collaboration and communication skills, allow them to work with their teammates and third parties. 

Fast Facts: 

Median Annual Salary: $69,870

How to Become One: Being a successful self-taught illustrator is possible, but getting a formal art education via the fastest route – an associate degree program – is strongly recommended. 

Best Degree and Schools: Academy of Art University Associate of Arts in Illustration and Mesa Community College  Associate in Applied Science in Illustration and Sequential Art

An additional resource to consider: Easiest Online Art and Design Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the career outlook for art and design occupations? 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that art and design occupations have a 6% projected job growth rate for the 2022-2032 period. The need for industry professionals will grow by about 95,800 new jobs during the decade.

There are also different projected job growth rates for different occupations. Graphic design jobs, for example, will increase by 3% while the demand for art directors and craft and fine artists has projected job growth rates – of 6% and 4%, respectively. Art students may want to consider these figures when choosing between art degrees, such as graphic design or fine arts. 

Are online art degrees crucial to your success in the art industry? 

Many professional – and successful – artists didn’t have a formal art education – Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ai Weiwei, and Jasper Johns are notable examples. So, the short answer is no, but it must be emphasized, too, that art education can be your competitive edge! 

You will learn the technical skills, whether it’s in drawing by hand or in digital illustration, that will be crucial in your job performance. You will also gain and enhance transferable skills, such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills, in online art schools that will be useful in your online art and design career. This is true whether your art degree is an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, as well as a professional certificate as part of your continuing education.

What’s the best degree for a successful art and design career? 

High school students pursuing Art and Design careers must first decide on the specific career path they want to take. The best art degree will then depend on said career path for obvious reasons.

Fortunately, there are plenty of choices offered by online art schools in their post-secondary art programs, meaning there’s something for every interested individual! Prospective art students can choose from, among others: 

  • Digital arts
  • Interior design
  • Graphic design
  • Art history
  • Digital media design 
  • Web design 
  • Fine arts 
  • Graphic communication 
  • Graphic arts
  • Media arts 
  • Visual arts
  • Digital photography
What does an online Art and Design degree involve? 

Most online art schools emphasize a good balance between technical and transferable skills in art education because both skill sets are crucial for career development and advancement. Art programs, however, have different academic requirements for their online learners depending on the type of degree and the learning outcomes.

Art history students, for example, learn techniques and tools for the analysis of artworks as well as research skills in preparation for their future roles as museum and gallery workers. 

What’s the average cost of education for entry-level art and design degrees? 

In general, the average tuition for an associate degree is $3,500 per year – and it’s significantly less than the tuition for bachelor’s degree programs, not to mention the shorter duration. But you must also consider that art programs and degrees have different tuition fees, too, such as a graphic design degree costing between $5,000 and $16,000 for its entirety. 

Note that art education can be expensive partly because art schools are among the most expensive schools in the United States. But if you’re looking for affordable yet quality art programs, you should look into online art schools. You can save not just on tuition but also on the traveling and other incidental costs associated with on-campus learning. 

What financial aid options are available for online Art and Design students? 

Art majors in accredited online art schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities usually have federal financial aid (FAFSA) as their main source for tuition reduction. Be sure to apply for FAFSA whether you believe you’re qualified or not! You should also ask about admission and financial aid services when considering an online art school and other schools for your post-secondary education. 

How can online Art and Design degrees aid in the fulfillment of personal and professional goals? 

Aside from technical skills development, earning an online art and design degree from the best schools will also contribute to your personal growth! You can apply your transferable skills, such as problem-solving, team building, and analytical thinking skills, in nearly every life situation. Your ability to use the best technical and/or transferable skills, thanks to your intensive formal art education, in workplace settings will be your competitive edge in career advancement. 

What are the certifications and/or licensure requirements for art and design occupations? 

Many art and design occupations don’t have certification and/or licensure requirements with the notable exception of art teachers in public K-12 schools; these art teachers must possess state-issued licenses. However, art majors can pursue professional certifications that demonstrate their love for lifelong learning and compliance with the art and design industry’s ever-changing technological standards. 

In graphic design, for example, professional certifications include Adobe Certified Associate and Adobe Illustrator Certification. In interior design, check out the professional certifications from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification and the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

What can you do to make an Art and Design degree worth it? 

Many art programs offer art majors career support services, a good place to start when you’re planning your art and design career. You should also take advantage of networking and internship opportunities that can lead to excellent employment leads. You must also highlight the excellent skill sets you’ve developed during your time spent in an art degree online program during job-related interactions. 

Most importantly, keep your eye on the prize while keeping an open mind about the unexpected yet exciting possibilities that an art and design career can bring into your life. 

What are the highest-paying art and design jobs?

If you hold an associate degree and have relevant work experience but you want to climb the ladder, you should consider earning an online bachelor’s degree in your specialization. While an online art degree at the associate level is sufficient for entry-level jobs, mid-level supervisory and management jobs require a relevant bachelor’s degree. Many of these jobs even require a master’s degree but there’s usually no need to pursue doctoral degrees.

Among these jobs are art directors who earn a median annual salary of $105,180 and creative directors with a $145,581 median annual wage. 

Points to Ponder

If you’re in a hurry to enter one of these art careers, you should consider pursuing a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in your preferred occupation. You can establish your career within two years – as fast as possible – and make your mark in the competitive industry with your entry-level educational credentials. 

But keep in mind that fast entry must be combined with hard work, professionalism, and productive performance for career advancement. After all, you want a career on the up and up, not a meteoric rise and fall!

Take a look: Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Creative/Design

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor