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How to Major in Art the Right Way

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Student Life

You are a creative person, but how do you incorporate that into a career path? A great start is choosing to major in art. 

Basics of Majoring in Art

Students in a small art lecture, listening to someone presumably unpictured.
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Navigating majoring in art is slightly different than other fields because there are fewer clear steps for you to take. Although, this does not mean that you cannot navigate it properly and be successful.

Choosing to be an art major is already a great step to beginning your art career. Now, where do you go from here?

For the basics, there are three common branches of liberal art degrees: visual arts, performing arts, and literature.

Typically, an art major is referring to the first two. Although, there are a wide array of options with an art major, beyond just the standard bachelor of fine arts (BFA).

Why Choose an Art Major in College

Student speaking up within an art lecture.
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

First things first, someone should choose an art major because it is something that they are passionate about and good at. If you are passionate about art, you will find a way to make a career centered around it. Although, there are many options that combine art with other skills.

The highest paying art jobs tend to combine arts and sciences. These jobs are the most in-demand art jobs currently. These types of jobs are Human-Computer-Interaction, Industrial Design, Product Design, and UX/UI Design jobs.

In general, it is an excellent idea for an art major to supplement their education with some business. This can be with a certificate, minor or just taking extra classes with those topics. Business skills come into play when artists want to sell work or need to negotiate prices with freelancing. 

What Skills to Have for an Arts Degree

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Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash
  • Working with materials.
  • Working by yourself or with others should be considered because certain areas lend themselves more towards one or the other.
  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Visual presentation
  • Research
  • Organization and planning
  • Utilizing creative software
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Basic multimedia skills, definitely drawing. 
  • Basic studio art skills
  • Technical art skills
  • Basic understanding of the art world.

Certain areas of art may require you to have specific skills.

How to Build Your Resume as Art Student

Paint brushes in a clear mason jar.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

The best way to get experience with art is to know what you want to do early on. Understand what your favorite medium is at least in high school and expand upon it from there by taking a variety of electives. Once in an art degree program, your skills will expand from there. 

For an art major, it is tempting to create a fun and creative resume. However, save that for the art and share it in your portfolio. Keep your resume to a standard template. This will make it easier to read and understand where your experience is in.

Things to include within an art resume

  • Write a good summary statement.
  • Publications of your work.
  • Write-ups for your work.
  • Conferences you’ve been in.
  • Collections you’ve worked on.
  • Collaborations you’ve done.
  • Attended or presented at events.
  • Awards you’ve won.

What Types of Art Degrees Are There 

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There are two main options for art degrees, getting your Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA). Then, there is an option to go on to get your doctorate degree further for certain career paths. 

These degrees are pretty broad in the subjects that fall under these categories.

Most art programs will have specializations within fine art like:

  • Art design
  • Animation
  • Digital media
  • Drawing
  • Painting

Then, there are bachelor’s degrees that are art adjacent, but not directly art. Those degrees are:

  • Architecture
  • Film school
  • Art History
  • Interior design
  • Fashion design
  • Graphic design

On the surface, these degrees might seem very different than fine arts, however, they apply similar technical skills and principles to them. 

Types of Arts Degree Jobs

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Photo by Timothy Exodus on Unsplash

Art Agent

An art agent deals with the buying and selling of art. This position is a bit more business-based, but knowledge of art is necessary. The average annual salary is $41,740 to 116,370 a year. This is a higher-paying art and design job.

Art Director/Arts Administration

According to Best Colleges Online, being an art director or administrator is “designing and directing layouts, artwork, graphics, illustrations, and visual styles or images for productions.” These tasks are done by working with clients, presenting ideas, and coordinating projects to other departments. 

This role typically requires higher education such as a master’s degree in business (MBA) to gain administrative knowledge. 

This is another high-paying job ranging from $42,840 to 163,430 a year.

Arts Education

Plan and teach courses, develop assignments. Do other things like a mentor, serve on committees, perform own research

Required to have a master’s usually for lower teaching positions but universities prefer doctoral work. 

The average annual salary is $45,370 to 88,290.

Commercial Artist

A commercial artist creates art for advertising materials. They communicate with a client and draft and finalize the work. This can be done with freelance or salary.

The average annual salary is $43,980 to 85,160.


An illustrator works on projects like video games and children’s books. Their main job is create art to supplement the writing. 

Interior Designer

Being an interior designer is more math-based because of structure and accessibility. But, art is important and a core function of interior designing. A room has to have a function but also it has to look nice as well. Along with that, they value the access

The average annual salary is between $35,320 to 65,960.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create art digitally to share concepts that inspire, inform, or persuade.

Their average annual salary ranges between $33,410 to 59,410.


A photographer is an art job that does not require arts major but a high level of creativity and talent with a camera. There is a wide variety of photography work to be done whether that be photojournalism, portraits, or events, for example. 

The average annual salary is $36,280 per year.

Studio Artist

Studio artists are what people typically think when they think of art majors. They use materials to create art to sell or exhibit. This job involves a lot of on-the-job training and constant growth as an artist. 

The average annual salary is $48,760 per year. 

If you are interested in pursuing an art career and need further advice on resumes, interviewing, and internships, read more on The Scholars blog and listen in to The Internship Show.

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Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

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