Art Job Pay: What Art Jobs Pay Well Right Now?

Looking for a job in the arts? There’s good news! Art job pay is on the rise, and there are lots of career paths to pursue in the arts. Art jobs offer the opportunity for a rich, fulfilling career where you’ll enjoy exposure to creative people and inspiring work.

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But what is the current state of art job salaries and what art jobs are paying well right now? What can you expect from a career in the arts? And who qualifies for the highest paying jobs in art organizations? We’ll explore these questions below.

Exploring Your Options: Careers in the Arts

If you’re seeking a high-earning career in the arts, the positions you qualify for will depend upon:

  • Your Education Level and Degrees Earned
  • Your Experience Level
  • Other Qualifications (like interpersonal and office skills)
  • Your Geographic Location
Art Jobs That Pay Well

You can find an art job that pays well in the performing arts, visual arts, or design.

Some art jobs like those in graphic design allow you flexibility (you can work from anywhere in the world!). Other positions like a role as a gallery curator may or may not be available where you live.

When considering a career in the arts, be realistic about median salaries near you. It’s likely that an art job in New York City will pay more than a similar position in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Art Job Pay: Museums

If you’re looking for art jobs with high salary, working in a museum is a great choice. A museum is a fabulous place to nurture your creative spirit, and enjoy daily exposure to inspiring artwork. Additionally, there are a variety of museum art jobs available to people of all levels of education and experience.

Art Museum Jobs

There are a variety of art jobs that pay well available in museums.

Art museum jobs pay well, with median salaries ranging from $75,000 per year for museum director positions to $33,000 for office manager positions according to a National Comparative Study of Museum Salaries prepared by the National Alliance of Museums.

Art Job Pay Without a Degree

If you’re seeking a high-paying art job without a degree, a job in a museum may be perfect for you. Each museum will likely have a variety of roles to offer, ranging from senior director positions to positions in marketing, HR, and administrative support.

If you don’t have a degree, but still want a job in the arts, you’re in luck. In the study referenced above, nearly 25% of museum workers in an administrative assistant role had a high school diploma as their highest earned degree. Nearly half (42.4%) of administrative staff reported that they did not have a four year degree, and the salaries for administrative personnel at art museums ranged from $28,000 to $52,565, with a median salary of $38,000 – a very respectable figure!

Other Art Jobs with High Salary

If you have a degree in the arts or would like to work in a museum, theater, or performing arts center, the above-mentioned study provides some terrific insight into the median salary and earning potential for various art jobs with high salary.

What Art Jobs Pay the Highest Right Now?

The top 5 art jobs in salary according to the AAM study are:

1. CEO / Executive Director : Median Salary $75,000

The salary for the head honcho at an organization can be a good indicator of the rest of the salaries. It gives you an idea of how much room to grow you’d have within the organization. This varies widely, by region and organization budget. Of course, there are some important outliers!

2. Director of External Affairs : Median Salary $84,096

In organizations that have this position, the role usually supervises Marketing, Development / Fundraising, Public Relations, and Communications.

3. Director of Development : Median Salary $73,408

The director of development is the leader of all fundraising activities and is an important part of any arts nonprofit organization. Despite common misconceptions, the work is not all wining and dining but also requires expertise in legal matters, IT and database management prowess, highly developed social skills, and organizational know-how.

4. Chief Financial Officer/Controller : Median Salary $69,216

As in any business, the CFO is critical to ensuring the financial health of an organization. In nonprofits, they are even more critical since funders (individual donors or granting organizations) often hesitate to give money to a nonprofit that does not show financial discipline.

5. Manager of Information Services and Technology : Median Salary $68,848

While not directly driving revenue (most of the time), IT professionals are highly sought-after. Those that have an additional passion for the arts and understand the specific needs of art organizations are even rarer. Increasingly, organizations depend and pride themselves on their technological capabilities and this person has to make them shine!

Whether you’re seeking an art internship in New York City or a senior-level job in the arts, there are a variety of exciting career paths awaiting you. Find your next opportunity to work in the arts or learn more about art job pay and salary information on

Creative Commons images courtesy of contributors Karolina Grabowska & Riccardo

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