Students pursuing a degree in art education generally hope to become art teachers one day. But with the emphasis on the arts varying around the country, it can be difficult to secure such a job. Until a position opens, an art educator could launch a career in a number of different fields. The average salary of these careers fluctuates from one position to the next, often based on years of experience.
One of the more obvious art careers for education majors is teaching art. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers provides an idea of what the salaries look like for this occupation. As of 2012, elementary and middle school art teachers started out at $37,300 a year. Those working in high school settings averaged closer to $42,100 to start. At the college level, art teachers can expect to average $73,340 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those not working for school districts or universities often start out at around $24,000 a year.
Sometimes, a degree in art education may lead to a career in graphic design. This is especially true when students take classes in computerized design, principles of design and graphics production while pursuing their art education degree. In 2012, graphic designers averaged $48,730 a year, according to the BLS. But earnings vary by experience. For example, those just entering the industry started out at $37,250 to $53,000 as of 2013, revealed a survey by The Creative Group, a national marketing recruiter. With three to five years of experience, salaries started at $48,750 to $68,000, while those with five or more years in design brought home $61,000 to $83,250 to start.
With the right artistic skill, an art educator could establish a career as an illustrator who conceptualizes and draws pictures for publications, architecture firms, medical facilities and product manufacturers. As with graphic designers, salaries can vary by experience. With one to three years, illustrators started out at $39,000 to $52,500 in 2013, according to The Creative Group survey. Those with three or more years in illustration earned closer to $52,250 to $74,250 to start.
If an art educator is familiar with web protocols and markup languages, a career as a web designer might be an option. Web designers often combine their artistic abilities with their technical acuity to create artwork and layouts for online sites. As of 2013, web designers with one to five years of experience started out at $52,000 to $76,500 a year. With five or more years of experience, starting salaries jumped to anywhere from $74,500 to $103,750 annually.
Art educators wanting a bit more control over what they create might choose to pursue a career as an artist. On average, fine artists brought home $54,000 a year in 2012, reports the BLS. Of the top 10 percent, however, salaries exceeded $93,030 annually. Salaries for those in the bottom 10 percent were often less than $19,410.
- National Association of Colleges and Employers: Salary Survey
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Art, Drama and Music Teachers, Postsecondary
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Graphic Designers
- The Creative Group: 2013 Salary Guide
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors and Illustrators
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images