If you want a career as an artist, but don’t have a degree in art, how can you get started? While building a career in the art field does not require a college degree, it can be challenging without guidance. This article will introduce you to different jobs for artists without degrees and how you can secure a great career opportunity in this field.
What Is Art?
Art refers to human activities involved in creating auditory, visual, or performed artworks. Artworks express the creator’s imaginative and creative techniques to demonstrate the beauty and emotional power within them.
Some of the oldest forms of art include visual arts such as painting and sculpture, but now also include modern artistic expressions through photography, printmaking, and graphic design.
An artist engages in activities that create artistic expressions, whether through music, writing, or acting. Artists leverage the beauty and power of the elements of their work to entertain or educate their audience.
What Do Artist Jobs Pay?
Artist salaries vary depending on the type of artwork, skill level, location, and company that one is working for. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of an artist in the United States is $44,898. Some artists can earn as low as $15,500 and as high as $59,500.
Some of the top-paying cities for artists include San Francisco, CA, Fremont, CA, and San Jose, CA. For example, if you work in San Jose, you will earn an average monthly salary of $4,464, and in San Francisco, you can expect to receive $4,789. The highest-paying artist jobs in the US include makeup artists working from home, unity technical artists, and lead technical artists.
What Skills Do You Need to Land an Artist Job?
Many artists’ jobs involve design of some kind. Sometimes that’s designing typography, art, sculpture, buildings, or room interiors. Being able to conceptualize, sketch, and create something from nothing by harnessing technical knowledge and creativity is important when working in an artistic field.
Having a broad vision of the project at hand and how it will culminate allows artists to work effectively towards a goal or deadline or particular look. This will look a little different in each creative field.
For songwriters and composers, this involves thinking about all of the instruments that will be involved in a song. For actors, this involves knowing how the entire scene will unfold and how to interact with fellow actors in the scene. For graphic designers, understanding the brand will help them to create new pieces and projects that relate to it.
Artists work with specific deadlines to ensure they offer their clients or audience an exhilarating experience. As a makeup artist performing art in different clients’ homes, you have to get there on time and execute your duties in the agreed period of time. If you are a musician, working on an album demands you complete the number of songs within a set timeframe.
Each piece of artwork starts with a concept, so you need concept development skills to create exceptional projects. Whether you are a tattoo artist or a musician, you will draw a concept from life’s happenings or something that your clients can relate to. Then build your work around it until it is complete. Simply put, the concept is the first step towards any work of art.
Artist jobs require a lot of interaction and collaboration with other people. For example, you will work with the film director, producer, makeup artist, and other actors as an actor. To ensure you create amazing content for your audience, you have to utilize your interpersonal and communication skills at work.
What Education Do You Need to Get an Artist Job?
Most artist jobs don’t require a college education. Instead, your creative skills and practice help you advance in your art career. However, some level of education is necessary. For example, studying music in high school will help you gain the basic knowledge required to play an instrument, compose songs, or perform a concert.
If you want to be a fashion designer, you may begin with vocational training to kickstart your profession in fashion design. Then advance your studies later in life to enhance your skills in creating exceptional garments.
Why College Is Not for Everyone
Pursuing a graphic design degree, for example, can be challenging since you have to spend a lot of time studying. Also, the price of tuition and other costs can be a huge deterrent. While financial aid may help you cater to all these costs, not every student is lucky enough to get it. That’s why some apply for loans from the state and end up being in debt.
Moreover, some aspiring artists have families to take care of, adding to their financial burden. This can be ineffective as you will have to balance family, studies, and work to provide for all these needs. The good thing is that you can still find a job that pays above minimum wage without a college education.
How to Get an Artist Job With a GED
Step 1: Fulfill the Art Academic Requirements
Your GED will most likely be suitable for the artist job you choose. Whether you’ve been taking lab or studio courses, you can use this to start your career. Some of the core art courses include art history, design, and drawing. This will give you a solid knowledge of art and showcase you as a fitting candidate for any role. Learning basic skills will give you a boost in getting started.
Step 2: Choose the Right Location
The geographic location determines how much you will earn and your career development. As a result, you need to find the right place to thrive to become a successful artist. Pay will vary by state. For instance, makeup artists in Iowa earn $67.83 per hour, while in Louisiana they earn $10.51 per hour.
It’s also worth considering an artist career path in a location that has resources to nurture your industry. For instance, makeup artists would thrive close to Los Angeles, and musicians would excel in Nashville.
Step 3: Network with Professional Artists
Whether you are a novice or advanced artist, you need to network with other artists. Networking paves the way for you to find your dream job in great companies. You also get to meet with experienced and renowned artists who guide you and could offer advice, career coaching, or even mentorship, all for free.
Step 4: Get Artist Training
Training sharpens your skills, helping you create art and apply new techniques. Some of the training resources you can leverage to advance your skills include workshops, online lessons, and classes. You can also take training sessions from artists with vast experience in the industry.
Step 5: Advance in the Industry
Whether you are an author, musician, or multimedia artist, advancing in the industry raises your earning potential. You can leverage your networking to advance from working for a company to being able to work freelance and sell your art at your own price.
High-Paying Jobs for Artists Without a College Degree
*This statistic is grouped under dancers and choreographers on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
Best Jobs for Artists That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
Videographers record events such as weddings, short films, anniversaries, birthdays, training, or commercial clips. They are also tasked with editing them and maintaining the highest quality of images and sound, thanks to various software programs they can access.
Videographers will need to be able to multitask without compromising on quality. Understanding equipment such as cameras, lenses, lighting, and sound equipment is essential. You need to manage your time well to meet your clients’ expectations.
Makeup artists work with their clients to enhance their beauty and appearance. They apply makeup for clients’ events such as weddings, galas, and functions. They also work in the entertainment industry, applying makeup to models, television presenters, or actors. Some specialist makeup artists apply prosthetics to actors and extras for plays or films.
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Interior designers are tasked with making their clients’ spaces beautiful and functional per the clients’ desires and specifications. They can create new spaces from existing ones, designing new elements, walls, entryways, or windows. Their vision of a space can transform it into something completely new.
Often, but not always, interior designers also decorate the space to complement the new design, adding paint colors, lighting fixtures, and rugs to accent the space.
Dancers perform in front of an audience through artistic, fluid, and unique bodily movements. They express stories and feelings through themselves as individuals or as part of a group. Some dancers may specialize in one type of dance or a number of various ones. Common dancing styles include tap, ballet, ballroom, or contemporary jazz.
You need a flexible body, dedication, and a love for creativity. Daily practice and an understanding of musical tempo and rhythm will be key to succeeding in this role.
A musician is skilled in playing one or more instruments and has an ear for rhythm, tone, and lyrics. Musicians can record their songs for commercial use or can sing before an audience. With the growth in technology, musicians also post their songs on sites like YouTube and get paid based on the number of views and downloads their video gets.
To be a successful musician you need to be creative, confident in your skills, and practice daily to perfect the craft. Networking in this industry is also very important for a career in the field.
A graphic designer is a technological artist who creates visuals for brands as a full-time job or a well-paying side hustle job. The goal is to leave a certain impression on the viewers. By using different software applications, graphic designers combine specific color shades, fonts, and elements to create pieces for their clients’ specifications.
These artists can be hired to customize websites, make logos, design cards, and create magazine layouts. Through visual elements, they appeal to the viewers and help them take particular actions.
This is a creative artist who creates apparel, footwear, outerwear, or fashion accessories. They will sketch the desired design and then create it themselves or work with manufacturers to produce the desired garment or item.
Creativity and an eye on the latest trends in the fashion industry will keep you at the top of the game. Whether you’re directly dealing with fabric and creating prototypes for men, women, or even children, you have to keep up with the dynamic nature of the industry.
A choreographer works with dancers to create unique movements and directs them during performances to ensure everything moves smoothly. They also work with music producers and art directors to ensure synchronization between dance moves and the music played.
Sometimes a choreographer will be given a story or a plot for a show. They’ll carefully read the script and come up with dance moves that correspond to the storyline or plot. Choreographers can specialize in styles such as modern, ballet, or hip hop.
Chefs are responsible for ensuring guests get the best food on time, whether in restaurants, at catered events, or in a private event in a home. They come up with unique menus to offer various cuisines or dishes or, in the case of private functions, to prepare what the guests prefer.
They are responsible for managing prep workers and cooks to ensure kitchen operations run smoothly and prepare quality food. Food safety is also a big part of a chef’s job.
To be a successful chief, you need to know how to manage relationships with vendors and guests and also remain creative and try out different things. Multitasking and good leadership skills coupled with a love of food and food trends will keep you at the top of your career.
A photographer is a skilled artist who photographs important events. It can be a birthday party, wedding, newborn shoots, engagements, corporate events, conventions, or projects for media companies. An excellent photographer understands lighting, different lenses, photo editing software, and the best angles for shooting.
A quality camera and a love of photography is a great place to start. As a beginner photographer, you can build your online portfolio and attract new clients by offering discounts.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level Artist Jobs
- Disney: Walt Disney World offers numerous artistic opportunities, such as makeup artists, actors, choreographers, and floral designers. Disney also offers incredible benefits and perks, like health insurance, wellness programs, and tuition support.
- Universal Studios: If you are looking to become an actor, costume designer, or multimedia designer, Universal Studios is ideal for you. You can apply for entry-level positions and start building a career. Universal Studios provides a conducive environment to learn new things and advance your creative career.
- NBCUniversal: This Comcast corporation is a leading media and entertainment company with a global audience. Artistic jobs include makeup artist, costume designer, and writer. NBCUniversal also provides exclusive benefits and perks to its employees to ensure they have a great working environment.
- Apple: Apple is a top company for art directors, whether you’re starting or advancing your art career. Apple offers you enough resources to perform any of your duties and has collaborative employees who will help you at work. Getting a job at Apple will allow your creativity and innovative skills to shine.
- Canva: Graphic designers can find a ton of work with the Canva platform. Joining their team to create templates and branding for millions of companies and entrepreneurs around the world will give you a great start to your professional career in the arts.
Where to Find Artist Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
ZipRecruiter is a job search platform that focuses on helping you find the right career opportunity. It offers search filters like company, job description, location, and salary. Whether you want an entry-level, intermediate-level, or expert-level job, this site can help you find a suitable position.
Indeed helps you search for artist jobs and secure great career opportunities. It provides you with salary comparisons for your location. Searching for jobs is easy with various filters available to focus on the right jobs for you. Indeed also allows you to apply for jobs right through the platform.
This online job search engine offers employment seekers numerous options to choose from. Whether you are an artist working from home, or an industrial designer, you can find the right employer on FlexJobs. As long as your qualifications match a job description, you can apply and wait for feedback from the hiring manager or recruiters.
Consider an Artist Degree Later in Your Career
Whether you are an aspiring graphic designer or musician, you can start by acquiring basic skills such as communication skills, technical skills, and interpersonal skills. Then advance your career through workshops, online lessons, vocational training, and art school.
Once you start building your creative career, you can enhance your skills through an art degree. It will help you show yourself competent for artist jobs, gaining an advantage over the other candidates. A college degree will also make you an authority in the industry.
Artist Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
Some of the highest-paying artist jobs include videographers, makeup artists, and interior designers. How much money these professionals earn depends on their skills, experience, and location.
Artists can work without formal qualifications. However, getting qualifications in the relevant art field will help you improve your chances of getting your dream job or being able to sell your work as a freelancer.
Yes, you can become an artist without enrolling in art school. There are many online resources, a lot of which are free, where you can learn the techniques associated with your preferred art form. As long as you are creative, willing to network, and understand the technical aspects of the art form, you can make money as a successful artist.
You can get an artist job without a college education by studying for certifications, taking online courses or bootcamps, and building a portfolio of your work to present when applying for jobs. Leveraging your portfolio during your job search will show you have the skills required for the job without having a formal education.
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