15 Highest Paying Jobs in Art and Design

Highest Paying Jobs in Art and Design - featured image

The stereotype of the starving artist will be quickly dismissed as soon as you become acquainted with the highest-paying jobs in art and design! In most cases, these high-paying art jobs only require bachelor’s degrees in arts and design. However, as in other professions, pursuing art careers demands continuing education (e.g., master’s degrees or doctoral degrees) and a passion for lifelong learning.  

Highest Paying Jobs in Art and Design - fact

Take a look at this: The Best Bachelor’s in Art and Design Online Schools and Career Guide

The demand for artists is also on the rise with a 2% projected growth (2021-2031) in overall employment in arts and design occupations. The workers – or more appropriately, the artists – in these occupations create a wide range of products and ideas with aesthetic and/or practical purposes, from product packaging to video games.  

The national average or median annual salary for arts and design professionals is $48,220 (May 2021). Entry-level positions requiring a bachelor’s degree as a minimum education requirement, however, likely have lower salaries that increase with work experience, productivity and leadership. 

Yet another beauty for professionals with art degrees is the wide variety of employment opportunities available! Many industries welcome them, from the video game industry to the manufacturing industry. 

15 of the Best Paying Jobs in Art and Design

Art Directors

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Among the highest-paying art jobs are those of art directors, many of whom were hired for entry-level positions with an art-related degree and little to no work experience. Many also received specific education in art direction and, thus, possess a broad understanding of the duties that come with being art directors. 

As an art director, you are in charge of the overall visual style that clients want in their newspapers and magazines, product packaging, and film productions. You will not just create the overall design but also lead your team from start to finish in completing advertising campaigns, setting up theater or film sets, and collaborating with other creative departments. 

Median Salary: $143,198

Schools Offering Suitable Bachelor’s Degrees: The American Academy of Art (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Direction) and Art Center College of Design  (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Direction) 

Product Designers

Product Designers - Image

Among the unsung design jobs are those of product designers, the professionals who manage the entire design process for commercial products. As part of their job to design products, product designers create the design elements, work with engineers and other professionals to transform the clients’ concepts into reality, and perform research activities (e.g., A/B testing and surveys). Product designers also make prototypes, wireframes, and journey maps. 

Product designers have a wide range of education – bachelor’s degrees can be in product design, graphic design, and even engineering. 

Median Salary: $65,027

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Digital Designers

Digital Designers - Image

Websites and webpages with user-friendly design and functionality are the work of the best digital designers! These design professionals create and test websites and webpages for usability including their navigation, graphics, audio and video elements, and graphics. Digital designers also consider the specific “needs and wants” of their clients – for example, payment processing features for an e-commerce site. 

Median Salary: $75,429

Schools Offering Suitable Bachelor’s Degrees:

Special Effects Artists and Animators

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Making movie magic is what special effects artists and animators are great at! These arts and design professionals create 2D and 3D visual effects and animation for films, television and video games, among other types of media. 

Special effects artists and animators use a wide range of technologies and techniques, too, from computer programs and traditional pen-and-paper methods. Many professionals also choose a specific medium as their specialization, such as video games, animated movies, or CGI effects. 

Median Salary: $111,130

Schools Offering Suitable Bachelor’s Degrees:

Fashion Designers

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If you’re into fashion design, then pursuing a successful career in the $ 1.7 trillion fashion industry may be your best path! Fashion designers create original clothes, accessories including bags and jewelry, and footwear that children, men and women can wear. Fashion designers can have different responsibilities in the design cycle, such as sketching the designs, choosing the fabrics, and sewing the clothes, among others. 

Fashion designers should be filled with creative ideas that allow their companies to stay on top of the competition. 

Median Salary: $74,157

Schools Offering Suitable Bachelor’s Degrees:

Industrial Designers

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As an industrial designer, you will participate in the design of a wide range of commercial products, from children’s toys to automobiles, consumer electronics, and home appliances. Industrial designers are adept in many fields including the arts, engineering, and business management in the design of everyday products. Such is the broad scope of their skills that the commercial products must follow both form and function, as well as oversee the design, prototype and final production of commercial products. 

Median Salary: $64,409

Schools Offering Suitable Bachelor’s Degree:

Creative Services Managers

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Project management is at the core of what creative services managers do in their work, but they are also creative people. Among their duties are the development of ideas and collaborations with clients and various teams to complete projects. Creative services managers usually have a bachelor’s degree combined with relevant work experience. 

Median Salary: $123,470

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Visual Designers 

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Known as the design world’s problem solvers, visual designers see the big picture by using their skills in both user interface (UI) design and graphic design. In addition to ensuring the visual impact of designs, visual designers are instrumental in ensuring brand uniqueness and incorporating individual designs into a cohesive image. Visual designers are also known for their communication skills, in both the oral and visual aspects. 

Median Salary: $70,200

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Video Game Designers 

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Professionals who design video games are responsible for the entire game design and development process. The process starts with the conceptualization of game ideas followed by the development of game mechanics, storylines and characters, and prototyping and playtesting the games. Game designers also balance the game’s difficulty so that it’s neither too easy nor too difficult. 

These professionals typically have a bachelor’s degree as their entry-level education requirement. Continuing education comes in the form of professional certifications. 

Median Salary: $149,794

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Multimedia Artists

Multimedia Artists - Image

Multimedia artists are among the most creative and innovative professionals in the arts and design industry, thus their popularity in numerous media industries. Their work combines the best of technology and creativity to create designs for media organizations like film companies, radio and television networks, and online publishing sites. Multimedia artists use old and new techniques, as well as choose a specialization – for example, CGI or video games. 

Median Salary: $71,372

Schools Offering Suitable Degree:

Film and Video Editors

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Film and video editors are experts at filming and editing technologies and techniques used in recording a wide variety of videos, such as films, documentaries, and music videos. Their work involves collaborations with other professionals like directors to ensure that the outputs are according to client specifications. 

Median Salary: $60,977

School Offering Suitable Degrees:

Interior Designers

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Also known as interior architects, interior designers create indoor spaces that meet both form and function – beautiful, functional, and safe. Their skills include the clever use of design elements and materials, as well as the ability to draw and read blueprints for interior design. Interior designers must also be cognizant of building codes and regulations during the interior design process, as well as work with engineers, architects, and other construction professionals. 

Median Salary: $67,460

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Graphic Designers

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As a graphic designer, you will create the concepts and ideas behind advertisements, reports, brochures and magazines, among other printed and electronic materials. Your job as a graphic designer also includes meeting with the art director and clients to determine the project’s parameters, designing the visual elements and layout, and reviewing the drafts before their final publication or printing. 

Median Salary: $64,500

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Art Historians

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With either an art history or an art degree, you can pursue a career as an art historian! While the job’s exact definition varies depending on the job, art historians may teach students about the evolution of the fine arts in post-secondary institutions, work as appraisers, curators and archivists in museums, auction houses and galleries, and even pursue careers in journalism.  

Note that many careers in art history require a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree and even doctoral degrees, and other forms of continuing education (e.g., professional certifications). 

Median Salary: $50,222

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Floral Designers

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With a high school diploma and appropriate training, such as in a certification program, floral designers can become successful at their art! Floral designers arrange both live and dried flowers and greenery for various occasions, such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. 

Median Salary: $55,329

Schools Offering Suitable Degrees:

Additional Resource: Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Creative/Design

More Reasons to Pursue Art and Design Careers

Aside from the great pay and career opportunities, there are more reasons to pursue art and design careers. 

  • Your transferable skills are recognized and valued by employers in a broad range of industries. Communication, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills have applications in nearly every industry, from the arts to technology. The trick is in engaging in continuing education so you’re always on top of industry trends.  
  • Your art degree and its skills have applications in the technological world, too, with companies hiring art and design professionals in everything from product design to advertising. 
  • You will benefit from the diverse subjects that an art and design degree touches on. Aside from the liberal arts that form part of general education, you will also tackle concentration subjects. 

And there’s no age limit for art and design careers, too! In fact, work and life experiences are valued among employers. 

Strategies for Successful Art and Design Careers

As in any profession, successful careers in art and design are a combination of education, hard work, and a little bit of luck. There are strategies toward success, too, including: 

  • Define what success means to you. For example, your success can mean being recognized for your work by your fellow art professionals or it may be selling your artworks. 
  • Devote time, energy, and enthusiasm to producing your art and design portfolio. You will likely start while you’re pursuing your bachelor’s degree with the portfolio being your demonstration of talents and skills for employers to consider. Even when you’re already employed, you must continue developing your talents and skills because the art and design world is an ever-evolving industry. 

In conclusion, being successful in an art and design career means a balance between money and fulfillment – and it’s a balancing act that will put more meaning into your career choices.

Check this out: Best Schools with Online Bachelor’s in Art & Art History

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor