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Art: What can I do with this degree?

Areas

Employers

Strategies

Art Museums/Galleries 
Education
Administration
Curatorial
Conservation
Registrar
Collections Management
Sales
Publications 
Development Public Relations
Exhibit Design/Preparation 
Archivist 
Tour Guides/Docent

Government or private museums
Local historical societies
Galleries

Intern or volunteer in an art museum. Develop strength in art history areas. Enhance computer skills. Earn a business minor. Acquire strong skills in research, fund-raising, speaking, and writing. Earn an advanced degree in an academic discipline or museum studies for greater career opportunities. Each specialty has varying qualifications and required training. Develop good interpersonal skills, including the ability to work well on teams.

Fine Arts

Self-employed
Shared studios
Historic sites
School/Community programs

Prepare a strong portfolio. Participate in juried shows. Secure guild membership. Consider developing a source of supplemental income. Learn to network and make contacts. Develop strong skills in area of interest. Obtain experience through apprenticeships, internships, or volunteering.

Commercial Art
Graphic Art Computer Graphics Illustration Advertising

Newspapers 
Publishing houses 
Advertising agencies 
Design firms 
Large companies - product design divisions 
Department stores 
Television and motion picture industry 
Non-technical and technical books, magazines, and trade publications 
Internet media companies 
Self-employed (freelance)

Prepare a strong portfolio. Gain computer and technical skills. Find an internship in a design firm. Work on campus publications in design or layout. Obtain summer or part-time experience with book, magazine, or newspaper publishers. Develop attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines. Supplement curriculum with course work in advertising or business.

Education
Studio Art 
Fine Arts 
Art History

Art schools 
Public and private schools (K-12) 
Colleges and universities 
Adult and community programs 
Libraries 
Museums 
Alternative schools 
Group homes

Obtain certification for public school teaching. Graduate degree usually required for post- secondary teaching. Develop a specialty area. Work or volunteer as a tutor, camp counselor, Big Brother/Sister, or after-school program counselor. 
Become a member of art clubs. Obtain substitute-teaching experience. Develop strength in art history areas.

Art Therapy

Hospitals, nursing homes 
Mental health facilities 
Rehabilitation centers 
Nonprofit organizations

Requires specialized training and certification, usually a master's degree in art therapy. Supplement curriculum with psychology, social work, or counseling courses. Gain experience working with diverse populations.

Media
Sales 
Programming 
Design 
Video 
Production 
Editing 
Art Journalism 
Illustration 
Art Criticism 
Animation/Cartoons

Corporate media departments 
Federal, state, and local government 
Nonprofit agencies 
Public relations and advertising firms 
Independent production companies 
Art-related publications 
Publishing houses 
Newspapers and magazines

Compile an up-to-date portfolio. Gain knowledge of a variety of technical equipment. Develop strong computer skills. Participate in student theatrical productions. Serve as audio-visual aide for campus films and lectures. Act as photographer for campus events. Work on student publications. Gain experience through internships in media or related areas. Supplement curriculum with courses in business, journalism, or broadcasting/electronic media.

Photography

Museums and historical societies 
Media organizations 
Photo agencies, studios, and auction houses 
Libraries 
Self-employment 
Large corporations 
Hospitals

Apprentice with a free-lance photographer. Prepare a black and white and a color portfolio. Obtain a staff photographer position with the yearbook, campus newspaper, or magazine. Act as an audio-visual assistant or projectionist.

Fashion, Textile, Interior Design

Pattern companies 
Apparel manufacturers/textile mills 
Interior design departments 
Commercial/residential design firms 
Self-employment

Prepare a strong portfolio. Complete an internship in a production firm. Create and fit costumes for stage productions. Enter design ideas in magazine contests. 
Become a student member of professional organization(s). Research requirements for entering these fields. Some may require specialized training or additional degrees.

Art Sales

Galleries/Museums 
Auction houses 
Specialty stores

Gain sales experience. 
Obtain a business minor. 
Develop computer skills. 
Establish contacts by attending shows. 
Volunteer in museums, membership drives, and community outreach programs. 
Serve as a student assistant in a university gallery. 
Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Retail
Buying 
Store Management 
Display Design 
Fashion Coordination 
Custom Framing

Retail stores, including department, grocery, drug, specialty, and variety chains

Gain sales experience. Enhance curriculum with business courses. Obtain summer, part-time, or internship positions in retail. Secure leadership in campus organizations. Serve as treasurer or financial officer of an organization. Obtain a sales position with the yearbook or campus newspaper.

General Information

  • A bachelor’s degree is valuable for entry-level positions, but an advanced degree is usually necessary to attain competitive, upper-level positions.
  • An art degree can and should be tailored to areas of specialization.
  • Save artwork for a strong portfolio - too much is better than too little.
  • Be prepared to relocate to the larger markets of metropolitan areas where more opportunities exist.
  • Join art related professional and student organizations.
  • Volunteer with fundraising efforts for the arts. 
  • Gain valuable experience through volunteering, internships, part-time and summer jobs, and apprenticeships.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas of interest to learn more about opportunities and strategies for these areas.
  • Learn to network.
  • Be prepared to begin career in entry-level positions.
  • Pair an art degree with other career interests to increase opportunities and provide supplemental income.
  • Develop skills in business management, computers, marketing, and other related areas to increase marketability.
  • A career in the arts takes dedication, patience, flexibility, talent, and some luck.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA /ADEA Employer 

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