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You love to paint. You rearrange your furniture every season. You dream of designing your own clothing line. You imagine the perfect video game. If your imagination is your strongest asset, a career in art and design could be a professional outlet for creativity.

Degrees in art and design

An associate's degree program in art or design teaches students to focus on appearances and details. Depending on the arts degree chosen, a student might take courses in:

  • Illustration
  • Art History
  • Fashion Merchandising
  • Website Design Software
  • Textiles and Patternmaking
  • Computer-Aided-Design (CAD)

It's typical for accredited colleges and universities to also offer degree in arts and humanities. These programs integrate arts-related courses with traditional humanities like:

  • Communications
  • English
  • Psychology
  • Religious studies

general studies degree programs can potentially be of benefit to a wide variety of careers. Graduates from these programs typically gain many transferable skills including critical thinking and the ability to work independently and as the member of a team.

Path to a degree in art and design

Multimedia and animation

Multimedia artists and animators must typically earn a bachelor's degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation, or another related field. The exact degree or program chosen depends on the type of technology an individual intends to utilize in their profession. Computer graphics majors, for example, may take courses in computer programming in addition to graphics, drawing, painting and other traditional art-related subjects. Degree options also exist for those interested in interactive media or game design.

Fine art

While positions in craft and fine art generally don't require formal schooling, a bachelor in fine arts or a master in fine arts (BFA/MFA) may help individuals gain artistic skills as well as learn how to promote their work commercially. Some artists, such as medical illustrators, must also possess a demonstrable knowledge of human anatomy, which can be gained with formal schooling like an additional associate's degree in that subject area.

Graphic design

Graphic designers are generally expected to possess at least a bachelor's degree in graphic design. However, those with education in other areas may also pursue technical training in graphic design to become eligible for a career in this field. Additionally, even those with bachelor's degrees in graphic design may expect to pursue technical training over the course of their careers, since the software used by graphic design professionals is constantly changing and being updated.

Interior design

For interior designers, coursework in interior design, drawing and computer-aided design (CAD) are generally expected and will help individuals gain part of the requisite skill set. While interior design programs are available at the associate, bachelor and master's degree levels, it is important to note that licensure requirements may vary by state. Even if your state does not require a license to work as an interior designer, such certifications can help you demonstrate your expertise to potential employers and clients.

Arts degree specializations and careers

While no degree program can guarantee a salary, in 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed healthy wages for artists and designers working under a wide variety of different job descriptions. Get a glimpse below.

Multimedia and animation

Multimedia artists and animators may create special effects, animation, or other visual images for computer games, movies, music videos, and commercials. In 2014, BLS numbers put the median salary for this career field at $63,630. The BLS also projects that employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022. While this is slower than the average for all occupations, BLS suggests opportunities for growth in areas such as animation for mobile devices may lead to more job growth in this field.

Fine art

Fine artists paint, sculpt and create original works of art for individuals, governments and corporations. The BLS reports that in 2014, the median pay for fine artists was $43,890. The BLS also projects employment of craft and fine artists will grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is slower than the average for all occupations. The BLS points out, however, that careers in the arts tend to depend on economic conditions.

Graphic design

Graphic designers implement visual messages using computers, photographs, animation, logos and other media. The BLS reports employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022. However, this is expected to vary by industry. While the BLS expects careers for graphic designers in print media will decline, positions related to computer systems design are expected to increase. BLS numbers put the median salary for graphic designers in 2014 at $45,900.

Interior design

Interior designers decorate homes and commercial spaces based on established aesthetic and architectural design principles. According to the BLS, employment of interior designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. While this is about as fast as the average for all occupations, interior designers with a background in energy efficient design and accessibility issues may have the best prospects. As of 2014, the median salary for interior designers reported by the BLS was $48,400.

Owing to the large number of talented individuals attracted to the field, graduates of art and design degree programs can expect significant competition for jobs and clients.

Better still, let WorldWideLearn.com help with your research. For more information, visit our Guide to College Majors in Design or our Guide to College Majors in Art, where you will find in-depth research on art degree programs, interior design degrees, graphic design and digital design degrees, and bachelor degree programs in game design.


"27-1024 Graphic Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm

"27-1013 Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271013.htm

"27-1014 Multimedia Artists and Animators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271014.htm

"Multimedia Artists and Animators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm#tab-1

"Craft and Fine Artists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm#tab-1

"Graphic Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-1

"Interior Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/interior-designers.htm#tab-1

"27-1025 Interior Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271025.htm

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