The art sector has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but some art degree jobs are thriving in spite of the economic downturn.

The Best Art Degree Jobs in Today's Economy


  • The pandemic has caused many creative professionals to lose income and work.
  • Some of the best art major jobs can be found in fields like design and marketing.
  • Art students and recent grads should check job boards and market themselves on social media.
  • Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, experts say the art industry will adapt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has leveled the playing field for many professionals, especially those in the arts. Opportunities in several sectors have come to a standstill, with many corporations laying off workers, downsizing, or shutting down operations entirely.

Some of the people most impacted by the public health crisis are those with careers in the arts. Many have lost their jobs, watched freelance opportunities dry up, and taken major hits to their businesses. This is compounded by the fact that companies often view creatives as disposable.

Fine and performing arts have been hit particularly hard by the economic downswing sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Americans for the Arts, art and cultural nonprofits lost an estimated $14.8 billion in revenue last year due to the pandemic, with 35% of workers laid off or furloughed.

Fine and performing arts have been hit particularly hard by the economic downswing. A study by the Brookings Institution found that these sectors lost a whopping 1.4 million jobs — half of all jobs in the two industries — and over $40 billion in sales. Even now art galleries, museums, theaters, production studios, and concert venues struggle to stay afloat.

With all this in mind, the art sector's outlook for the coming months is somewhat grim. Over 9 in 10 creatives reported a loss of income this past year, with an average annual loss of $21,500.

Top Jobs for Art Majors in Today's Economy

Despite COVID-19's huge impact on the arts, some creative professions have fared better than others. Let's look at some of the top industries for artists and the most thriving art degree jobs you can pursue right now.

Architecture and Design

Although the pandemic has had a large impact on the design sector, with a 13.2% total job loss rate, positions in areas like architecture and fashion design remain mostly unaffected. Part of this is due to the fact that designers can easily shift gears to work from home, since most tasks are completed on a computer.

Job Median Salary Job Growth Rate (2019-29) Job Loss Rate (Apr-July 2020)
Architect $80,750 1% 1.6%
Fashion Designer $73,790 -4% 2.5%*
Game Designer $66,000 4% 1.1% (all other designers)
Graphic Designer $52,110 -4% 3.3%

*Total percentage of jobs lost in fashion industry

Marketing and Public Relations

The marketing sector is another great path for creatives interested in advertising, design, public relations, or communication. Since much of today's advertising is done through the internet and social media, designers, marketers, and agents can easily complete projects and collaborate with others at a distance.

Job Median Salary Job Growth Rate (2019-29) Job Loss Rate (Apr-July 2020)
Advertising and Promotions Manager $135,900 6% 2.9%
Art Director $94,220 -2% 1.8%
Public Relations Specialist $61,150 7% 2.5%
Advertising Sales Agent $53,310 -6% 1.7%

Writing and Communication

While the creative writing industry continues to suffer setbacks — with a high job loss rate of 7.6% — you can find related work in areas like editing and technical writing. These alternatives currently boast relatively low job loss rates, making them strong contenders for artistically inclined job-seekers.

Job Median Salary Job Growth Rate (2019-29) Job Loss Rate (Apr-July 2020)
Technical Writer $72,850 7% 0.7% (all other comm jobs)
Editor $61,370 -7% 2.0%
Translator $51,830 20% 0.7% (all other comm jobs)

Do Art Degrees Still Hold Value in the Current Job Market?

Some art graduates will have more job opportunities than others depending on their major and skill set. For many job-seekers, having a certain school's name on their degree may be seen as a stamp of approval by creative companies, agencies, and organizations.

Social distancing and remote work can hinder the creative process for artists.

While an art degree can offer many perks, today's economy has illuminated some of the underlying issues associated with the credential. More attention has been drawn to the massive debt art students accumulate. According to U.S. News & World Report, many reputable art schools charge graduate students up to $30,000 annually in tuition and fees.

Furthermore, temporary business closures have not necessarily resulted in a smaller workload for art degree-holders. For many art professionals, social distancing and remote work hinder the collaborative and creative process.

But even with the current economic slump, many art careers continue to thrive, especially those that have always been well suited for independent, at-home work, like graphic design.


5 Job-Seeking Tips for Art Students and Recent Grads

While the value of an art degree can vary, there are several ways art students and recent grads can forge their careers and make money during these trying times.

1. Sign Up With Job Boards and Directories

Online job boards and directories are great ways for art students and graduates to keep up with the latest industry trends. With these tools, you can look for full-time, part-time, and remote positions in your desired field. Popular job boards for creative professionals include AIGA, ART JOBS, and Alliance of Artists Communities.

2. Join Online Communities for Art Grads

Another advent of the digital age is online communities and websites geared toward creatives. Finding groups on platforms such as Facebook and industry-specific forums can help graduates connect with working professionals.

3. Market Yourself on Social Media

Using social media as a promotional tool can help art students and recent grads draw attention to their work. Platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram let creatives highlight their best qualities for industry professionals and insiders.

4. Network With Other Professionals

Networking with other creatives is one of the best ways to land a job. Art school and industry groups allow graduates to build relationships with like-minded individuals. Those relationships may lead to inside information on potential job openings or even direct access to upper-management positions.

5. Pick Up an Online Gig

While working in your field is the ultimate goal, sometimes getting unrelated jobs is necessary for maintaining or supplementing your income. Even now amid nationwide shutdowns, remote work remains a dependable source of income, especially in sales and online retail.

Marketing your skill sets and selling crafts online is a fantastic way to earn extra money while still utilizing your artistic background. Sites such as Fiverr and Etsy are popular platforms artists can use to advertise their services.

The Future of Art Careers in a Post-COVID-19 Economy

The current economic downturn has dramatically altered the employment prospects for art degree-holders. Many companies have had to downsize or cut art-related departments, such as design, marketing, and advertising, while others have moved 100% online.

This sweeping transition to remote jobs could lead to a more permanent change in how creative professionals work. According to an article in FIU News, certain jobs in the arts — e.g., design, entertainment, sports, and media — are better suited to telework than other industries. Careers in these sectors allow workers to create products and offer services anywhere, anytime.

“Careers will continue to evolve as life and technology progress, requiring professionals ‘on stage’ and behind the scenes to be experts in … diversifying delivery systems for conveying entertainment to the public.”

Meanwhile, more interactive fields like acting and music — which depend on in-person connections to deliver results — continue to be hit hard by the pandemic. Fortunately, new and inventive ways of allowing these artists to work, such as by streaming performances through pay-per-view services, could lead to a rebound in the near future, experts say.

While many art careers will continue to struggle as the pandemic rages on, changes in how we showcase and sell art in this unprecedented period will no doubt reshape how creative professionals work.


Feature Image: Pekic / E+ / Getty Images