Arts Career - Myth vs. Reality


The struggle is real. You love your performing or fine arts class and have often thought of how fun it would be to go to college and earn a creative degree. You might have mentioned it to your parents or friends and received the reaction of “Why would you do that, you might starve to death.” or “There are no jobs.“ Luckily, research shows enrolling in art school has a positive outcome.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers


visual and performing art students who graduated in 2020 had an average starting salary of $53,500 which is up from $36,222 in 2018. That is a 47% increase in salary in just 2 years. That increase is higher than majors in biology and education.

"There's a ton of evidence that prospects for graduates from art schools today are better than they've ever been before in terms of income, their ability to survive economic turbulence and their preparedness for the job market of the 2020s," says Columbia University professor Jennifer Lena, who is senior research scholar for the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports, an Art Director median pay is $97,270 and the job outlook over the next ten years will increase by 11%. That is slightly higher than creative directors, user-experience designers and design managers who fetch a median salary of more than $90,000.

Ashley Finley, vice president for research and senior adviser Employers are looking for studio habits of mind and according to The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ newest report, “How College Contributes to Workforce Success: Employer Views on What Matters Most,” Ashley Finley, vice president at AAC&U says “Our results also point to how much fostering mind-sets - like work ethic and persistence - matter for workplace success.” The report went on to say “At a time of great change in American higher education and in the global economy, a liberal education will pay off for students on the road ahead.”


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