37 Creative Jobs That Will Stoke Your Artistic Fire
Are you ready to be amazed? Creative jobs can take many different forms—maybe more than you realize. After all, the essence of creativity is the ability to generate, develop, and express unique and original ideas, which is a skill that can be applied to virtually any industry. Art careers and other creative occupations encompass an enormous range of activities, from drawing and illustrating to performing, composing, and writing. Creative abilities are also crucial for anyone who designs buildings, develops apps, edits films, or directs marketing campaigns. The range of possible jobs for creative people is much wider than you might expect.
And the creative industries are a powerful economic force. Figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that Americans spent a total of $1.1 trillion on arts and cultural commodities in 2013 alone, a 2.7-percent increase over the previous year. Collectively, the arts and cultural production industries (including design, publishing, broadcasting, the performing arts, and other related sectors) employed 47.4 million people and contributed more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy.1
The following list of creative jobs is divided into different interest areas, though many of these careers could easily fit in more than one category. These suggestions are meant to fire up your imagination and get your creative juices flowing—so start exploring!
- 4 benefits of creative work
- Creative jobs in:
4 Benefits of Creative Work
If you live for the challenge of forging something new, creative jobs might be right up your alley. For many people, having the opportunity to be inventive and original is enough reason to go into a creative field of work. Here are a few other rewards that come with having a creative job:
1. You have tons of flexibility.
Many creative jobs are not tied to a 9-to-5 schedule. The focus is more on project work, particularly for self-employed freelancers. In many cases, you're free to set your own hours and work from anywhere that suits you: your living room, a coffee shop, or a neighborhood park. You can often make independent decisions and set your own agenda.
2. You learn to look at problems in unique ways.
Creativity is really about finding new and innovative ways to do things. When you concentrate on honing these skills through work, you find yourself better prepared to bring a fresh approach to problems in many other areas of your life.
3. You can find joy in collaboration.
Some creative types like to work alone, but many relish the chance to combine forces to produce something incredible that didn't exist before. Think of partnerships like animators and music composers, or copywriters and graphic designers. Working as a creative team to achieve a common goal can be extremely rewarding.
4. You can keep your brain healthy.
Research has shown that creative pursuits can be good for your mental health. One study found that people in middle and old age who participated in artistic endeavors like drawing and sculpting were 73 percent less likely to develop thinking and memory problems, and those who engaged in activities like sewing and woodworking were 45 percent less likely to have cognitive issues.2
Creative Jobs in Design
Design encompasses a wide range of areas. Some designers harness their creative and artistic skills to produce plans for functional products, such as buildings, clothes, and toys. Others focus on planning the unified look of a stage, screen, or room. Check out the following possibilities for creative jobs in design:
1. Art director
Determining the overall visual look of advertisements, publications, product packages, video games, and movie productions is the responsibility of art directors. They set the artistic style for each project and oversee the work of creative services professionals like photographers, artists, and graphic and set designers. You need plenty of industry experience to get into this career.
- Average salary—$101,1703
Designing buildings that are both functional and attractive takes a unique blend of artistic ability and mathematical skill. Architects have to understand the properties of different building materials as well as the structural and mechanical issues involved in constructing homes, office buildings, stores, and factories. Those with a solid grasp of sustainable design principles may find the best opportunities.
- Average salary—$84,4703
Do you fancy being a trendsetter? Fashion designers create designs for everything from clothing and costumes to accessories and footwear. You need an eye for color and a good understanding of the functions and uses of different fabrics. It also helps to be familiar with the textile production process. An internship is a good way to get started in this field.
- Average salary—$76,4803
4. Industrial designer
Coming up with designs for manufactured products such as appliances, cars, furniture, and toys is the responsibility of industrial designers. These professionals research the ways different products will be used before sketching out designs, developing computer models, or creating physical prototypes. A degree in industrial design, engineering, or architecture is usually required.
- Average salary—$70,8803
When choosing a room's lighting, flooring, furniture, and other materials, interior designers must consider the size, layout, and function of the room as well as building code regulations and accessibility requirements. You could design the inside space of private homes, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, airports, schools, or hospitals. Some states require interior designers to be licensed.
- Average salary—$56,2203
6. Set designer
As a set designer, your job is to devise the backdrop, furniture, and props that are involved in a television, film, or theater production. This involves consulting with the director, researching different time periods and architectural styles, sketching floor plans, and creating 3D models that illustrate how the various elements will look. You might also oversee the actual construction of the set.
- Average salary—$54,3103
Websites, billboards, flyers, brochures, and product packaging are all examples of work produced by graphic designers. They are experts at using visual media to communicate a specific idea or message. Many graphic designers work for advertising agencies, public relations firms, or web development companies, but independent freelance work is also common.
- Average salary—$52,2903
Choosing and arranging the right combination of flowers and greenery for special events or occasions requires artistic skills and a good understanding of the emotions that different flowers can evoke. The job also involves teaching your customers the best way to preserve and care for different types of flowers. Since orders can't be prepared too far in advance, good organizational skills are crucial.
- Average salary—$27,6103
Creative Jobs in Craft Arts
Craft artists focus on using their hands to assemble and create tangible goods from materials like stone, wood, and glass. Their creations could be functional or purely decorative. Many of these workers are self-employed, but others find work with museums, galleries, or manufacturing firms. Here are some of the artistic careers available in crafting:
Designing and creating fashionable and unique earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings takes excellent artistic skills and a high level of manual dexterity. This is delicate, intricate work that requires soldering metals together and inserting tiny stones. A steady hand is also important when using lasers to cut stones or inscribe special messages.
- Average salary—$42,3103
2. Glass blower
It takes enormous patience, concentration, and attention to detail to shape molten glass into things like vases, ornaments, giftware, mirrors, and stained glass windows. You have to be constantly vigilant about safety: Glass must be kept above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit while being shaped, and burns are a constant danger. In addition to producing new creations, glass blowers might also spend time repairing old works of glass.
- Average salary—$41,2464
From mass produced items like bedroom furniture and kitchen cabinets to custom creations like wine racks and specialty signs, woodworkers craft it all. They use computer-controlled machinery and a variety of power tools to cut and shape the wood to detailed specifications. You need solid mechanical and math skills as well as good hand-eye coordination to succeed in this field.
- Average salary—$31,7803
Creative Jobs in the Fine Arts
The jobs in this category are often the first ones that come to mind when people think of art careers. At their core, the fine arts are about expressing thoughts and emotions through visual media like painting, drawing, and photography. Here are just a few examples of jobs for artists:
Do you often see the funny side of a situation? Cartoonists use a unique blend of drawing, writing, and comedic skills to create political cartoons and comic strips. They sell their work to greeting card companies, magazines, and syndicates. Many still sketch their ideas with pen and paper, but digital tools are becoming more common.
- Average salary—$63,410 for fine artists who work in publishing3
Without sculptors, we wouldn't have the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, or the faces on Mount Rushmore. Sculptors carve and chisel three-dimensional creations out of materials like marble, stone, wood, or ice. Some sculptors work for museums or art studios, but most are freelancers who create commissioned projects for collectors, businesses, and government agencies.
- Average salary—$57,4103
3. Art restorer
You may have already seen the work of an art restorer and not known it. These creative professionals work to bring old or damaged pieces of art back to their original appearance. They might enhance an old photograph to make it less blurry or apply oil paints to damaged areas of a portrait. This is detailed work that requires good concentration skills.
- Average salary—$44,780 for museum technicians and conservators3
Do you have a good eye for colors, shadows, and compositions? Photographers are visual storytellers who use images to record events, convey ideas, and capture emotions. Some produce original artistic creations that are sold in galleries and studios; others specialize in portraits, commercial photography, photojournalism, or scientific documentation.
- Average salary—$42,6403
Illustrators produce artwork that complements or enhances a concept or idea. For instance, they might draw the pictures for a children's book or select the images for a wall calendar. Some illustrators produce images for medical and scientific publications, work as sketch artists for police departments, or create exhibits for use as visual aids in court cases.
- Average salary—$41,2054
6. Tattoo artist
There's not much room for error when it comes to applying permanent images to people's skin. In addition to sketching out ideas and coming up with new designs, tattoo artists have to follow proper sterilization procedures and teach their clients how to care for their new tattoo and avoid infection. Some states require tattoo artists to be licensed.
- Average salary—$30,7583
Creative Jobs in Multimedia
Multimedia professionals use tools like computers and cameras to bring their artistic visions to life. They combine creative and technical skills to create films, video games, websites or commercials. Many of the careers in this category also come with promising job outlooks. Here is a sample of creative jobs to consider in multimedia:
Bringing seemingly impossible scenes to the screen is what special effects artists do every day. They use things like miniature models, animatronic robots, and computer-generated images (CGI) to create actions, events, or characters that would be too expensive or dangerous to film in real life. You could work for film or television companies or dedicated visual effects firms.
- Average salary—$80,1314
As more and more people rely on smartphones to run their lives, developers who can come up with new and innovative mobile applications will continue to be in demand. This job requires creative prowess along with good analytical, problem-solving, and computer coding skills. Being well-versed in multiple programming languages and platforms is also important.
- Average salary—$72,4204
Many movies, music videos, commercials, and video games need animators to create the illusion of movement through a rapid succession of images. You might draw each frame by hand or create digital pictures on a computer; some animators also photograph and manipulate physical objects like clay figures or puppets. A blend of creative and technical skills is important in this field.
- Average salary—$72,2003
Creating appealing websites that fulfill a specific purpose involves analyzing user needs, developing the technical framework, and designing the layout and look of the site. Some web developers perform all of those tasks, while others focus on specific areas such as front-end design. This is a hot field: Jobs for web developers are expected to grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.5
- Average salary—$72,1503
Did you know that more than 24 billion video games were sold in the U.S. in 2016?7 Game designers are key players in the creative concepting process for a new game. They invent new worlds, develop plots and storylines, and determine the look of various scenes and characters. They also work closely with the game developers who do the actual programming.
- Average salary—$59,6994
Videographers shoot and edit small-scale videos. They might record live events such as weddings or charity functions or create business-specific films such as marketing or training videos. They also integrate music, computer graphics, or special effects to enhance the intended mood or message. Training in broadcasting or video production is a good way to get started.
- Average salary—$55,3496
Creative Jobs in Writing and Communication
Are you a whiz with the written word? The advertising, marketing, publishing, and entertainment industries all need creative people who can produce well-crafted messages that strike the right tone. Check out these examples of creative jobs in writing and communication:
1. Marketing manager
Broadly speaking, marketing managers direct and control all communication between a business and its customers. They analyze market trends and establish strategies for pricing and promoting their company's products and services. They also coordinate and oversee the work of sales, advertising, and public relations teams. You'll need a degree in marketing and several years of experience to get into this job.
- Average salary—$144,1403
2. Advertising director
Generating interest in a company's products is the role of an advertising director. These creative professionals use targeted promotional campaigns to make people want to buy what their company is selling. While marketing is concerned with the overall public perception of a company, advertising is about inspiring consumers into immediate action. Part of this job involves supervising the work of copywriters and graphic designers.
- Average salary—$117,8103
3. Technical writer
Can you translate geek-speak into plain English? Technical writers are in charge of developing user guides, instruction manuals, and software documentation. They frequently use diagrams, charts, graphics, and videos as well as written text to communicate complex concepts. Journalism or communications training can give you a good foundation for this career.
- Average salary—$73,1603
Developing scripts for movies and television productions can be an exciting way to use your creative energies. Screenwriting is about telling a story visually; the focus is on moving the plot along through action and dialogue rather than thoughts and reflections. An active imagination and a good understanding of the filmmaking process can be very useful.
- Average salary—$72,4144
In an age of social media and 24-hour news, public relations specialists who can think creatively can find themselves in demand. These professionals manage and control the public image of a company or organization. That might mean writing speeches, drafting press releases, or responding to media queries. In addition to training in public relations, coursework in journalism, communications, or business can be helpful.
- Average pay—$66,5403
One of the primary tasks of an editor is to shape and polish a piece of written content to make it the best it can be. That generally involves assessing the overall structure of the story or article and checking for errors or inconsistencies in logic, spelling, tone, style, and grammar. Creativity and an eye for detail are essential in this job. You could work for publishing houses or news organizations, or go out on your own as a freelancer.
- Average salary—$66,0803
Can you write captivating content that inspires people into action? Copywriters use the written word to promote products and services. They are responsible for the text that appears in print ads as well as on promotional websites, brochures, billboards, and product packaging. They might create slogans, write radio jingles, or craft social media ads. An internship can be a good way to get your foot in the door.
- Average salary—$49,0954
Creative Jobs in the Performing Arts
Whether you dream of singing and dancing on stage or working behind the scenes to support a production, there are plenty of ways to make a creative contribution to the worlds of theater, film, and entertainment. The following is a selection of creative jobs in the performing arts:
Directors are the creative bosses of stage and screen productions. They select the cast and determine how the script will be brought to life. They oversee and approve everything from production design and actors' performances to music selection and cinematography. You need top-notch leadership and communication skills to succeed at this kind of work.
- Average salary—$93,8403
2. Film editor
Assembling the various elements of a film into one cohesive product takes creativity and patience as well as technical skill. It's the film editor's job to carefully choose the best shots or camera angles for each scene and add things like sound effects or music where required. The idea is to make sure the final version of the film flows properly and adheres to the director's vision.
- Average salary—$82,1903
As a makeup artist, you could use your creative flair to bring out a bride's natural beauty, transform an actor into a hideous monster, or help a politician look their best for television appearances. You need to have a solid grasp of color theory and application techniques; it's also important to understand how to choose the right combination of cosmetics for different face shapes and skin types.
- Average salary—$71,590 for theatrical makeup artists3
4. Music composer
Composers create original music in a variety of styles for a variety of purposes. You could compose pop tunes for a mass audience, arrange classical compositions for an orchestra, or create the score for a movie or TV show. You need a thorough understanding of music theory. Many composers also play the piano or other instruments.
- Average salary—$60,6303
Ballet companies, theaters, and movie studios rely on choreographers to invent and implement dance routines for their performers. Your job is to choose appropriate music and design the steps and movements for each dancer to follow in order to get an entertaining, coordinated final product. You need excellent communication and teaching skills for this career.
- Average salary—$53,6103
Immersing yourself in a character can be very creatively rewarding. An actor's job is to portray a role in an authentic and convincing way so that the audience is drawn to the story. That requires researching the part you are playing so that you fully understand the character's motivations and mannerisms. Formal education is not required, but many actors do undertake drama, acting, or theater training.
- Average pay—$39.84 per hour3
Do you envision yourself belting out tunes for audiences in nightclubs and concert halls? Whether you have a solo act or perform as part of an ensemble, you can use your vocal abilities to create an entertaining and engaging experience for your listeners. Getting experience in a wide range of musical styles—classical, country, jazz rock, etc.—can boost your job prospects.
- Average pay—$34.56 per hour3
Design Your Future
As you can see, the range of creative jobs that are available is vast. Do you have the skills you need to realize your career ambitions? The job-focused training offered by vocational colleges and trade schools can prepare you to find success in a wide variety of creative and artistic occupations. And these types of schools are easy to find. Just enter your zip code into the following search tool to explore convenient programs near you!
1 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Arts and Culture Grows at Faster Pace in 2013," website last visited on September 27, 2017.
2 CNN.com, "Could creativity and socializing preserve your memory?," website last visited on September 22, 2017.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on September 20, 2017.
4 PayScale, website last visited on October 20, 2017.
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, website last visited on January 5, 2018.
6 Indeed, website last visited on January 24, 2018.
7 Entertainment Software Association, "Industry facts," website last visited on September 26, 2017.