A Fine-Arts Degree May Be a Better Choice Than You Think

A Fine-Arts Degree May Be a Better Choice Than You Think

For graduates, job prospects and satisfaction are surprisingly high

Nov. 10, 2013 4:18 p.m. ET
Think that art school dooms graduates to a life of unemployment? The numbers paint a very different picture”Artists can have good careers, earning a middle-class income,” says Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “And, just as important and maybe more, artists tend to be happy with their choices and lives.”

Not Exactly Starving

A 2011 report from the center found that the unemployment rate in the first two years for those graduating with bachelor of fine arts degree is 7.8%, dropping to 4.5% for those out of school longer. The median income is $42,000.

“Artists’ income is comparable to other liberal-arts majors,” he says. “They do a little better than psychology majors, since counseling and social work is a very low-wage occupation.”

Students at the School of Visual Arts in New York School of Visual Arts

For artists who go on to graduate degrees, the most common of which is the master’s of fine arts, the unemployment rate for recent graduates drops to just under 5%, and their median yearly income increases to roughly $50,000.

Other studies have also found relatively high levels of employment and satisfaction. The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University conducted a survey of 13,000 graduates of visual and performing college-arts programs between 1990 and 2009; 2,817 were in the fine arts.

Among the findings: Almost 83% worked the majority of their time in some arts occupation, such as art teaching or in a nonprofit arts organization.

“Arts graduates are resilient and resourceful,” says Curb Center Associate Director Steven J. Tepper. Sixty percent of the fine-arts graduates in the survey work more than one job, he says, “but they are happy with what they put together.”

A Rosy Picture

Bruno S. Frey, research director of the Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts at the University of Zurich, echoes that finding.

Students at the School of Visual Arts in New York School of Visual Arts

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s