Arts Careers

Career Options with an Undergrad Arts Degree

Translating your B.A. into a rewarding, exciting and well-paying career can be an intimidating prospect.

Many recent and soon-to-be graduates are filled with anxiety related to their perceived lack of employment prospects and excess of looming debt from their student loans.

They may be confused about their professional fate, and they may be wondering if there are any careers at all that they can pursue with this degree.

So, will being an arts grad help you find a good job? Will you have any employment prospects at all? The short answer is...yes...and you'll have hundreds of options! The long answer is, well, explained below!
 

Find a School

More on What You Can Do With An Arts Degree

Sorted by major, this careers guide exists to provide you with detailed occupational information on career paths you can pursue with your arts degree, as well as how to pursue them. From a career as an addictions counsellor, to a career as a mayor, there are hundreds of career options available to you. Many of which, we're willing to bet you didn't know you had.

We’ve included job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these career options. Not enough? We’ve outlined scholarships that you can apply for based on your major to help you pay for your degree.

 

Why is This Degree Useful

Despite common misperception, a Bachelor of Arts degree can open the door to many meaningful, rewarding and lucrative careers. Arts graduates are highly sought after because their broad education base has helped them shape their inquiring minds, and inquiring minds can help employers evaluate conflicting points of view during their business operations.

Job postings routinely emphasize qualities such as 'effective written and verbal communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills' as being the most in demand in their workplace. Because of the broad nature of the coursework, these skills are instilled by studies in the arts like they are in no other field.

Studying the arts can not only helps you expand your knowledge base in various subjects, it can help you develop intangible traits such as critical thinking, effective communication, creativity and independent judgment. Critical thinking and independent judgment are attributes that can be valuable to employers for many reasons; for example they may give you the ability to suspect data is incorrect, even if told that it's accurate. An employee with a less inquisitive mind may take the data at face value without questioning it.

 

Employable Skills

Research:

An extremely valuable skill for the workplace is the ability to perform research properly. Arts students are taught how to find information and quickly assess its quality. This skill can be applied to a wide variety of issues and problems you will encounter during your career.

Critical Thinking and Analysis:

You'll be taught how to think objectively, and not take everything you're told to be factual. You'll learn to use carefully gathered evidence to ensure accurate conclusions are formed. This skill is also useful for seeing abstract problems from different angles, thus giving you a greater chance of solving them.

Effective Communication:

A skill that can be applied to almost any career, regardless of educational background, is that of effective communication. Because of the plethora of writing that an arts program involves, you'll be taught to become a skilled writer and presenter. You'll also face the challenge of disseminating large amounts of information and articulating complicated ideas in a manner that's clear and concise. Communication skills can be utilized for numerous applications, including but not limited to writing and preparing advertising copy, business plans, technical spec sheets, letters, directives, professional e-mails and captivating presentations of all kinds.

Creativity:

An undergraduate arts program can teach you to think ‘outside of the box’, and to look at the ‘big picture’. Throughout your career, you'll have countless opportunities to apply your creativity to find new solutions for old problems, and to view challenges as opportunities.

Earnings & Salary Numbers

The salary you could earn when you enter the working world will primarily depend on what career field you end up working in, rather than what field of study you've pursued. For example, if you work as a government researcher, might earn less, or much more for that matter, than if you choose to become an entrepreneur. Within the career path you choose, other factors will determine how much you could earn. These include (not an inclusive list):

  • Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)
  • The industry in which you find work
  • The type of job you have
  • The level of responsibility inherent in your job
  • The size and type of your employer
  • The region in which you work
  • Other work experience you may have accrued
  • Other skills you may have

 

Some Degree-Based Salary Numbers

Salary Figures Canada: Below is a compilation of average salary figures for art degree graduates from various areas of academic focus, regardless of what career field they chose. 

These figures are from a survey published in 2016 conducted by the Council of Ontario Universities' study of the 2013 graduating class (earnings from 2 years after graduation). No similar surveys were found for other Canadian provinces. Please note that not all of the graduates who responded to the survey were necessarily working in arts-related careers. 

  • $44,767 CAD - "Other" Arts and Science 
  • $43,063 CAD - Education graduate salary
  • $40,239 CAD - Journalism 
  • $38,305 CAD - Humanities 
  • $35,194 CAD - Fine & Applied Arts
  • $41,930 CAD - Social Sciences

United States: With regard to salaries for arts graduates working in the United States, the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University conducted a similar study in 2015, which explores the median salary levels for arts graduates of from majors within the United States. 

  • $46,000 USD - Education
  • $40,000 USD - Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
  • $56,000 USD - Journalism
  • $49,000 USD - Art History
  • $52,000 USD - French & Other Language Studies
  • $49,000 USD - Humanities
  • $49,000 USD - Psychology
  • $49,000 USD - Fine Arts
  • $42,000 USD - Social Work

Many students choose to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in the arts out of personal interest, academic interest, or as a foundation for graduate studies, rather than for the hope of entering into a lucrative career field right after graduation. If your goal is to achieve a high level of earnings with your arts degree in a profession that's directly relevant to it, then pursuing a graduate-level education might be of benefit to you.

 

Possible Employers of Arts Graduates

Employers from virtually any field can hire someone with an arts degree. It's typically employers who see value in having employees with great intuitiveness and a broad education that are most likely to hire you.

Many employers believe the most innovative ideas and products are developed by having an employee base that contains a balance of technically educated employees and broadly educated employees. After all, despite the large demand for employees with specific skill sets, employers still value new hires who can conjugate French verbs and develop well referenced research papers, as they can be trained to do a multitude of tasks. Such employers typically include:

  • Government agencies
  • Small, medium and large private companies
  • Publicly traded companies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Self-employment

 

Career Obstacles You Might Face

It's no secret that many arts graduates become bartenders, servers and barristas. Why is this? And what can be done about it? What's standing in the way of those who are trying to make an impact in the workforce?

Obstacle: Asking for a high salary or seeking a mid to senior level role upon graduation.
Solution: Accept an entry-level position.

Many graduates make the mistake of expecting a higher salary, or more impressive job title than they deserve upon first entering the work force. While it's important to value yourself as a potential employee, it's also important to be realistic about the competition being faced. It's important to note that many of today's employers feel that new recruits often lack the skill set and experience to fill mid-level roles. They prefer to hire employees for those roles who already posses the exact skill set required.

Accepting an entry-level role can be a great long term career move, as it often allows an employee to showcase their skills and move from department to department, gaining skills as they go.

Obstacle: Not being aware of the variety of possible career opportunities.
Solution: Search for job postings that match the skills you’ve gained while pursuing your education (as listed above)

Remember, whatever you do, try not to have a closed mind about what careers will be applicable to your degree. For example, if you're a political science grad, you have more career options than "politician", and if you're a psychology grad, you don't have to become a psychologist.

The fact is there are hundreds of broad career fields that will be open to you. Browsing our career guides and speaking to your guidance counselor are two resources that will help you find a career that suits your interests, skills and abilities.

 

Find a School

 

 

Advice for Finding the Perfect Career

You’re about to graduate and you’re eager to make your mark. How do you find that perfect job among a myriad of possible careers? Below we’ve outlined some common tactics that you can implement into your job search strategy.
 

Internship and co-op opportunities

Internships and co-op opportunities are a great way to ‘learn by doing’. During your final two years of your undergrad, you should be actively searching for these opportunities. Speak to your professors and your school’s career resource office to find these opportunities. If you're able to land such a position, it is not uncommon to be offered a full time position with the company upon graduation.
 

Job/Career fairs

Career fairs are a great way to interact with the recruiters of many organizations in a face-to-face setting. Be sure to ‘interview’ these employers by asking them why you should choose them, after all these organizations are just as eager to acquire strong talent as you are eager to find a great job. Bring multiple copies of your resume and engage with as many different companies as you can.
 

Your school’s career services/resources office

The career counselling professionals in your school are paid to help you make suitbale choices, and to introduce you to career information resources; utilize their services early and often. Remember, they won't approach you and ask you if you want help with the process of finding a meaningful job after graduating, you need to take the initiative and approach them. The sooner you introduce yourself to these professionals during your academic career, the more thoroughly they can help you identify your interests, passions, capabilities and ultimately proper career choices. They can often identify career options that many undergraduate arts students aren't aware of.
 

Networking

Your personal and professional network should never be overlooked. The more people that are aware of your job search, the better your chances of finding employment opportunities will be. Talk to your friends, family members, teammates, members of your church, classmates, professors, and anyone else in your sphere of influence. Odds are that someone will know someone who is hiring, and they’ll be able to put in a good word for you.
 

Contact employers directly

Find out who the great, or common, employers of arts graduates are. Once you have identified these employers visit the “careers” section of their websites to search for current opportunities. If they don’t have any listed that directly pertain to your degree, it may be worth your while to contact them directly and inquire about any unadvertised or upcoming opportunities. With this tactic, persistence might pay off; ensure that you keep record of whom you spoke to, when and what they said. After a few weeks, call them back and ask them if any positions have opened up yet. This is a great way to take advantage of the hidden job market.
 

What Scholarships are Available?

If you’re looking for scholarships, we’ve got you covered. Our Scholarships By Major section has plenty of Canadian, American and international scholarships available to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate arts degree, as well as many that are open to all students in general.
 

Success Tip: Attend Arts Career Fairs

Attend any job and career fairs you in your area that you can, just be sure you're properly prepared! Attending these fairs will allow you to ask employers about careers and jobs with their organization. It also gives you a chance to make a good impression, and to stand out by giving them a candidate to meet, not just a resume on top of a pile of resumes.

Arts Careers