High-Paying Artist Jobs Without a Degree (2023)

It is understandable that many people find the idea of starting a career in the arts to be intimidating. The art world is constantly evolving to incorporate new mediums and cultural ideas. If you are just starting out, you may be wondering if you have the right training and qualifications to succeed. In fact, there are more jobs for artists without degrees than you realize.

You can land numerous high-paying art jobs by attending a trade school, enrolling in online classes, or simply developing a strong enough portfolio and expanding your professional network. This article will discuss some of the highest-paying art jobs and provide guidance to help you understand what you need to thrive in this field without a degree.

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Why College Is Not for Everyone

Many recent high school graduates elect not to attend college because their chosen career field values experience and hands-on training over traditional classroom instruction. Attending college is a significant financial investment that is not always worth it if your career goals don’t require a degree.

Pursuing a graphic design degree, for example, has its benefits. But the four years you spend studying could also be put to use gaining mentorship and real-world experience in an internship or entry-level job. You can land various graphic art jobs without a degree if you assemble an impressive portfolio and build a professional network.

Different Types of Art Jobs for Artists

There are almost as many types of art jobs as there are forms of art. Artistic skills and thinking can be put to use in film, interior design, game development, art history, illustration, creative writing, fashion, and graphic design. All of these fields have very different requirements, but with the right form of creativity, you can thrive.

While various different art jobs, such as art historian, may require at least a bachelor’s degree, attending university is not your only option. You can gain the right training and experience for roles like graphic designer or game designer through online courses, coding bootcamps, or vocational training programs.

What Do Artist Jobs Pay?

Artist salaries vary depending on the type of artwork, skill level, location, and organization that one is working for. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of an artist in the United States is $42,061, with some artists earning as low as $26,000 and as high as $52,999. Some of the highest-paying art jobs in the US include videographer, makeup artist, and interior designer.

High-Paying Jobs for Artists Without a College Degree

Job Average Salary Outlook
Videographer $111,507 12%
Makeup artist $66,951 11%
Interior designer $63,770 1%
Fashion designer $57,481 3%
Graphic designer $54,006 3%
Musician $52,599 4%
Chef $52,372 15%
Choreographer $47,671 27%*
Dancer $45,439 27%*
Photographer $43,963 9%

*This statistic is grouped under dancers and choreographers on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Best Jobs for Artists That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look

You can find jobs for artists without degrees in a wide range of fields, from technology to entertainment. Below, we provide more information about some of the highest-paying art jobs that you can qualify for through self-study, vocational training, or online courses.


Videographers record events such as weddings, short films, anniversaries, birthdays, training, or commercial clips. They are also tasked with editing footage and maintaining the highest quality of images and sound, with the help of various tools and software programs.


Videographers will need to be able to multitask without compromising on quality. Understanding equipment such as cameras, lenses, lighting, and sound equipment is essential. You need to manage your time well to meet your clients’ expectations. Building a name for yourself in your niche through years of producing quality content will make videography a very high-paying art job.

Makeup Artist

Makeup artists work with their clients to enhance their beauty and appearance. They apply makeup for clients’ events such as weddings, galas, and functions. They also work in the entertainment industry, applying makeup to models, television presenters, or actors. Some specialist makeup artists apply prosthetics to actors and extras for plays or films.

Interior Designer

Interior designers are tasked with making spaces beautiful and functional per their clients’ desires and specifications. They can create new spaces from existing ones, designing new elements, walls, entryways, or windows. Their vision of a space can transform it into something completely new.

Often, but not always, interior designers also decorate the space to complement the new design, adding paint colors, lighting fixtures, and rugs to accent the space. You’ll need to understand special balance, color basics, and stay up-to-date with design trends.

Fashion Designer

This is a creative artist who creates apparel, footwear, outerwear, or fashion accessories. They will sketch the desired design and then create it themselves or work with manufacturers to produce the desired garment or item.

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Creativity and an eye on the latest trends in the fashion industry will keep you at the top of the game. Whether you’re directly dealing with fabric and creating prototypes for men, women, or even children, you have to keep up with the dynamic nature of the industry.

Graphic Designer

A graphic designer is a technological artist who creates visuals for brands as a full-time job or a well-paying side hustle job. The goal is to leave a certain impression on the viewers. By using different software applications, graphic designers combine specific color shades, fonts, and elements to create pieces for their clients’ specifications.

These artists can be hired to customize websites, make logos, design cards, and create magazine layouts. Through visual elements, they appeal to the viewers and help them take particular actions. Graphic design is one of the best paying art jobs in the tech industry.


A musician is skilled in playing one or more instruments and has an ear for rhythm, tone, and lyrics. Musicians can record their songs for commercial use or can sing before an audience. With the growth in technology, musicians also post their songs on sites like YouTube and get paid based on the number of views and downloads their video gets.

To be a successful musician you need to be creative, confident in your skills, and practice daily to perfect the craft. Networking in this industry is also very important for a career in the field.


Chefs are responsible for ensuring guests get quality food on time, whether in restaurants, at catered events, or in a private event in a home. They come up with unique menus to offer various cuisines or dishes or, in the case of private functions, to prepare what the guests prefer.

They are responsible for managing prep workers and cooks to ensure kitchen operations run smoothly and prepare quality food. Food safety is also a big part of a chef’s job.

To be a successful chief, you need to know how to manage relationships with vendors and guests and also remain creative and try out different things. Multitasking and good leadership skills coupled with a love of food and food trends will keep you at the top of your career.


A choreographer works with dancers to create unique movements and directs them during performances to ensure everything moves smoothly. They also work with music producers and art directors to ensure synchronization between dance moves and music.

Sometimes a choreographer will be given a story or a plot for a show. They’ll carefully read the script and come up with dance moves that correspond to the storyline or plot. Choreographers can specialize in styles such as modern, ballet, or hip hop.

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Dancers perform in front of an audience through artistic, fluid, and unique bodily movements. They express stories and feelings through themselves as individuals or as part of a group. Some dancers may specialize in one type of dance or a number of various ones. Common dancing styles include tap, ballet, ballroom, or contemporary jazz.

You need a flexible body, dedication, and a love for creativity. Daily practice and an understanding of musical tempo and rhythm will be key to succeeding in this role. Growing a name for yourself and a successful portfolio will help you access art jobs that pay well in the dance industry.

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A photographer is a skilled artist who photographs important events. It can be a birthday party, wedding, newborn shoots, engagements, corporate events, conventions, or projects for media companies. An excellent photographer understands lighting, different lenses, photo editing software, and the best angles for shooting.

A quality camera and a love of photography is a great place to start. As a beginner photographer, you can build your online portfolio and attract new clients by offering discounts. It may take a few years for photography to become your full-time career.

What Skills Do You Need to Land Well Paying Art Jobs?

While several of the best well-paying art jobs require specialized hard skills, there are some general creative and interpersonal skills that nearly all share in common. Here are some essential soft skills you should hone if you want to succeed in an artistic field.

Design Skills

Many of the best-paying art careers involve design of some kind. Sometimes that’s designing typography, art, sculpture, buildings, or room interiors. Being able to conceptualize, sketch, and create something from nothing by harnessing technical knowledge and creativity is important when working in an artistic field.


Having a broad vision of the project at hand and how it will culminate allows artists to work effectively towards a goal or deadline or particular look. This will look a little different in each creative field.

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For songwriters and composers, this involves thinking about how different instruments will be involved in a song. For actors, this involves knowing how the entire scene will unfold and how to interact with fellow actors in the scene. For graphic designers, understanding the brand will help them to create new pieces and projects that relate to it.

Time Management

Artists work with specific deadlines to ensure they offer their clients or audience an exhilarating experience. As a makeup artist performing art in different clients’ homes, you have to get there on time and execute your duties in the agreed period of time. If you are a musician, working on an album demands you complete the number of songs within a set timeframe.

It can be difficult to create art and acquire inspiration within a set period of time, but if you can’t meet deadlines, it will be difficult to build a client base. Strong time management skills are essential for all high-paying art jobs.

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Concept Development

Each piece of artwork starts with a concept, so you need concept development skills to create exceptional projects. Whether you are a tattoo artist or a musician, you will draw a concept from the world around you or by working with your client. Then build your work around it until it is complete. Simply put, the concept is the first step towards any work of art.

Interpersonal Skills

Artist jobs require a great deal of interaction and collaboration with other people. For example, you will work with the film director, producer, makeup artist, and other actors as an actor. To ensure you create amazing content for your audience, you have to utilize your interpersonal and communication skills at work.

What Education Do You Need to Get High Paying Art Jobs?

It is extremely common for creative-minded people to wonder what education is needed to become an artist. In fact, you can start various high-paying art careers without a college education by studying for certifications, taking online courses, and building a portfolio. Leveraging your portfolio during your job search will show you have the skills required for the job without having a formal education.

Some level of education is necessary for almost all of the best paying art jobs. For example, studying music in high school will help you gain the basic knowledge required to play an instrument, compose songs, or perform a concert.

If you want to be a fashion designer, you may begin with vocational training to kickstart your profession in fashion design. Then advance your studies later in life to enhance your skills in creating exceptional garments.

How to Get an Artist Job With a GED

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Step 1: Fulfill the Art Academic Requirements

Your GED will qualify you for a wider range of well-paying art careers than you realize. If you take lab or studio courses, you can use this to start your career. Some of the core art courses include art history, design, and drawing. This will give you a solid knowledge of art and, with enough skill, can showcase you as a fitting candidate for any role.

Step 2: Choose the Right Location

Your geographic location determines how much you will earn and your career development. As a result, you need to find the right place to thrive to become a successful artist. Pay will vary by state. For instance, Indeed reports that makeup artists in Iowa earn $67.83 per hour, while in Louisiana they earn $10.51 per hour.

It’s also worth considering an artist career path in a location that has resources to nurture your industry. For instance, makeup artists would thrive close to Los Angeles, and musicians would excel in Nashville. There are simply fewer opportunities to land acting jobs in small towns compared to New York City.

Step 3: Network With Professional Artists

Whether you are a novice or advanced artist, you need to network with other artists. Networking paves the way for you to find your dream job in great companies. You also get to meet with experienced and renowned artists who guide you and could offer advice, career coaching, or even mentorship.

Step 4: Get Artist Training

Training sharpens your skills, helping you create art and apply new techniques. Some of the training resources you can leverage to advance your skills include workshops, online lessons, and classes. You can also take training sessions from artists with vast experience in the industry.

Step 5: Advance in the Industry

Whether you are an author, musician, or multimedia artist, advancing in the industry raises your earning potential. You can leverage your networking to advance from working for a company to being able to work freelance and sell your art at your own price.

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Companies That Offer Entry-Level Artist Jobs

  • Disney: Walt Disney World offers numerous artistic opportunities, such as jobs for makeup artists, actors, choreographers, and floral designers. Disney also offers incredible benefits and perks, like health insurance, wellness programs, and tuition support.
  • Universal Studios: If you are looking to become an actor, costume designer, or multimedia designer, Universal Studios is ideal for you. You can apply for entry-level positions and start building a career. Universal Studios provides a conducive environment to learn new things and advance your creative career.
  • NBCUniversal: This Comcast corporation is a leading media and entertainment company with a global audience. Entry-level artist jobs include makeup artist, costume designer, and writer. NBCUniversal also provides exclusive benefits and perks to its employees to ensure they have a great working environment.
  • Apple: Apple is a top company for art directors, whether you’re starting or advancing your art career. Apple offers you enough resources to perform all of your duties and has collaborative employees who will help you at work. Getting a job at Apple will allow your creativity and innovative skills to shine.
  • Canva: There are many entry-level artist jobs for graphic designers with the Canva platform. Joining their team to create templates and branding for millions of companies and entrepreneurs around the world will give you a great start to your professional career in the arts.

Where to Find Artist Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree


ZipRecruiter is a job search platform that focuses on helping you find the right career opportunity. The platform’s search filters make it easy to narrow in on art jobs that don’t require a degree. You can search based on factors like company, job description, location, and salary. Whether you want an entry-level, intermediate-level, or expert-level job, this site can help you find a suitable position.


Indeed helps you search for artist jobs and secure great career opportunities. It provides you with salary comparisons for your location. Searching for artist jobs that don’t require a degree is easy with various filters. Indeed also allows you to apply for jobs right through the platform.


This online job search engine offers employment seekers numerous options to choose from. Whether you are an artist working from home, or an industrial designer, you can find the right employer on FlexJobs. As long as your qualifications match a job description, you can apply and wait for feedback from the hiring manager or recruiters.

Consider an Artist Degree Later in Your Career

You can kick off many of the highest-paying art careers by acquiring basic communication skills, technical skills, and interpersonal skills. Then advance your career through workshops, online lessons, vocational training, and art school. Once you have more experience, it will become easier to identify which qualifications are best suited for your goals.

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There are many entry-level jobs for artists without degrees, but you may reach a point in your career where you feel you have the time and resources to gain more formal training. It will help you show yourself competent for artist jobs, gaining an advantage over the other candidates. A college degree will also make you an authority in the industry.

Artist Jobs Without a Degree FAQ

Can you become an artist without enrolling in art school?

Yes. While becoming an artist without art school may be difficult, there are many online resources, a lot of which are free, where you can learn the techniques associated with your preferred art form. As long as you are creative, willing to network, and understand the technical aspects of the art form, you can make money as a successful artist.

What are some art jobs for beginners?

Some common art jobs for beginners include graphic artist, esthetician, photographer, stagehand, character actor, intern, and content writer. Many beginners in the art world build a client-base through freelance work. This can give you the opportunity to hone your skills and build your portfolio.

What jobs require an art degree?

Some jobs that require an art degree include museum curator, architect, creative director, theater manager, art teacher, and art historian. While some companies may require graphic designers and UI designers to have a degree, this is becoming less common.

What are the highest paying art majors?

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Some of the highest-paying art majors include digital media, graphic design, architecture, and game and interactive design. However, keep in mind that it is very difficult to predict how financially successful a person’s career will be based solely on their major, especially in a field like the arts.


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