11 Most Profitable Art-Related Majors

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There is a popular misconception that degrees in art are not profitable and do not have great return-on-investment figures. In reality, this is not the case. Individuals majoring in the arts get a solid foundation and knowledge that enables them to have successful and fulfilling careers. They get the essential skills and experience to succeed in many creative fields and industries, depending on their specialization.

So if you are looking into art colleges or want to know more about expected salaries and possible career paths, this guide might be quite helpful. Here are the most profitable art majors, from lowest to highest, that also offer professional development opportunities. All the data on payment rates and employment outlook is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Graphic Design

This creative field has great earning potential. According to U.S. BLS, the average salary for a graphic designer is $53,380 per year. The range is from $31,720 to $93,440. About 24% of professionals in this sphere are self-employed. It is a more flexible job, so one can work distantly or in the office, on individual projects, or on a permanent basis.

The associated education program allows for a combination of technology and art to create powerful imagery. The only downside is that there is a job outlook decline in this field by -4%, so there will be higher competition in the labor market right now. But it can also change in the future as the number of technology-related occupations is growing.

Interior Design

If you want to create comfortable yet beautiful living spaces, this is a valid opportunity. Interior designer programs are available in many schools and colleges and offer a powerful set of skills. And this major is more affordable than many other art-related degrees.

Usually, an interior designer gets $57,060 annually, with the range from $33,020 to $97,920.

Such a position requires not only artistic vision and understanding of fundamental architecture and color concepts, but it also demands strong communication skills to gather and analyze the client’s expectations and needs. But it is emotionally fulfilling to see designs come to life.


Photo via Unsplash – Marius Masalar


Music is another exciting opportunity to pursue. One can learn to play instruments, write songs and melodies, teach others, or make a solo performing career. For one of the most popular positions in this major, secondary or high-school music teacher, the employment rate is 98.1%. So, it is safe to say that there is decent job security. And the job opportunities grow 4% a year, which is the same as the majority of other spheres.

As a high-school music teacher, one can earn $62,870 per year ($41,330-$102,130). Those who work as music directors and composers earn about $52,250 yearly ($23,820-124,390). Musicians and singers have irregular working hours, but the rate is about $31.40 per hour.

So, whether you want to be a solo performer, teacher, or composer, music is a valid major to choose.

Photo via Unsplash

Photo via Unsplash – Sarah Brown

Drawing Studies

This section concerns students that will graduate to become fine artists, craft artists, painters, illustrators, and sculptors. It is one of the classic career choices for creatives. One of the benefits of this sphere is that it is very flexible – one can be a self-employed creator, work for a company, or become a teacher.

According to the U.S. BLS, the average annual payment for craft artists is $49,120 ($22,000 – 112,930). Painters, sculptors, and illustrators earn $52,340 per year ($19,570 – $122,900). High school teachers in this sphere have the same rate as music teachers – $62,870.

Cinematography and Video Production

In this program, students learn film and video production, methods of capturing stories, camera work, etc. It is a versatile field as one can work in many industries, from motion picture production to advertising and marketing.

Film and video editors earn about $67,250 annually. Camera operators for film and television get $57,200 per year.

The job outlook for both of these careers is great – it grows by 18% a year, which is much higher than the average 4%. The top-paying industries are, of course, performing arts and motion pictures. Overall, it is a dashing career choice for those who love cinematography.

Industrial Design

Students interested in art, engineering, and business may consider this education. The focus here is on developing the design for products, whether it is a sports car, milk box, or coffee maker. These professionals work in a wide variety of industries, so the job outlook is pretty good.

The salary rate is $71,640 on average, ranging from $41,860 to $118,440.


Photo vis Unsplash – Dylan Mullins

Entertainment and Media Management in Arts

This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are talking about art majors, but it is definitely worth mentioning. The main career path for individuals in this program is to become an agent or business manager for artists, musicians, athletes, or performers. This profession combines knowledge of art with business and marketing management.

The average annual salary for such agents and managers is $75,420. The range is from $35,840 to 190,500.

Fashion Design 

Majoring in fashion and apparel design opens doors to many opportunities, from becoming a designer yourself to working for high-end brands and manufacturers. It has great potential for career growth and earning. But the industry is quite competitive.

Fashion designers earn $75,810 annually, with the range from $38,570 to $146,300.

Another possible position to look for is purchasing manager or agent for shops or enterprises. Such professionals have an average salary of $72,270 annually ($39,810-$112,170).

The only difficulty for those interested in fashion is that the job outlook is in a small decline right now, so the positions are not as easy to land as others in this list.

Photo via Unsplash - Nathana Reboucas

Photo via Unsplash – Nathana Reboucas

Drama and Theatre Arts 

Drama and dramatics are some of the traditional degrees one can acquire in arts. This education program is widely available almost everywhere and offers 77% of employment opportunities. It involves not only actors but also directors that are willing to work in theater production.

According to the U.S. BLS, theatrical producers and directors earn $76,400 per year on average. The range is quite wide – from $36,070 being the lowest rate and $184,600 being the highest. The job outlook is growing by 10% a year, which is higher than average. So there is a place for new professionals in this field.

As for theatrical actors, the average rate is $21.88 per hour. The range is from $10.51 to $64.92. It is hard to evaluate the yearly salary as the working hours for actors are irregular. But it is still a decent payment to look for.

Interactive Media Design

This major allows combining the best parts of both worlds – technology and design. Students that graduate with such diplomas can work in the gaming industry, animation, or multimedia industries.

It is not as widespread among colleges and universities as other programs, but it provides great employment prospects. Salary rates vary greatly as in other art-related majors. It depends on many factors, from skills and experience to projects, industry, and location. Another advantage is the possible flexibility of this career – it allows working individually or being a part of a huge company.

Special effects creators and animators get paid $77,700 annually, with the range from $42,390 to $142,750. The number of job opportunities grows at the usual rate of 4%.

Art Director 

This is one of the most profitable occupations for people with degrees in arts. Of course, for a high-level position, it requires not only a college diploma but also at least 5-7 years of experience in the industry.

Art directors work in magazines, television productions, newspapers, or packaging companies. They are responsible for visual style and imagery. One can become an art director with various art-related degrees, like photography, design, or illustration.

The annual payment rate is $97,270 (from $54,530 to $199,250), with the most profitable industries being motion pictures and advertising.

In Summary

Creative careers are essential for almost any industry and offer splendid opportunities for graduates. The annual salary ranges significantly for almost any major. But the average return on investment for all these educational programs are quite good. They also provide fulfilling and flexible employment options.

Author Bio: Hanna Douglas is a professional essay writer at EssayWritingService with a focus on art and literature who has been working in this field since college graduation. She is passionate about visual art and its expressive means both in her career and everyday life.


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