What do art students do after graduation?

We conducted a survey of nearly 300 alumni this year. Our findings showed alumni leading engaged, creative, satisfying lives, dispelling many commonly-held beliefs about an art degree.

Unique skills employers value

Lisa JerrettArt students bring a unique set of skills to a wide range of careers. A national study found employers value creative problem-solving  and critical thinking more than any specific degree2. Our alumni enthusiastically said these same skills were the centerpiece of their art education1.  

Over 92% of our alumni said that their education was essential in their current job, even when they work in a field outside of the arts3.

92% of our Art Education majors are hired as art teachers.

Alumni very satisfied with their work

In our survey, nearly 90% of alumni said their current job was creative, fit their values and interests, and contributed to the greater good4. This exceeds satisfaction levels for lawyers, accountants, financial managers, high school teachers and the general population5.

Engaged citizens, creative lives

Over 85% of our alumni continue to make art after graduation, even if it is not their only source of employment7.  Our graduates are vital members of the cultural community, and the vast majority work at art centers, teach art classes, and intern at museums after they graduate6 . 

Where our alumni work after graduation

About two-thirds of our graduates work in art-related fields8.  Most popular fields include:

  • Museum administrators
  • Graphic designers
  • K-12 Art teachers
  • art center instructors and staff
  • Gallery directors
  • Web designers and animators
  • illustrators
  • Architects
  • Artists
  • Museum and gallery Curators
  • Art Professors 

About one-third of our alumni find careers in other fields, particularly management, communications and sales. Below is a sample of the diverse careers of some of our alumni:

  • Designer working with urban planners/ architects
  • Food stylist for TV & movies
  • Adventure guide
  • Custom Fabrication
  • Investor
  • Business owner
  • Commercial digital printing
  • Painter for movie sets
  • Software marketing/product management
  • Golf course designer
  • Film festival programmer
  • Art and environmental program instructor
  • Wilderness guide
  • Law
  • Foreign aid worker
  • Political work and fundraising

I'm just amazed that so much of my art degree consisted of practical application skills that empower me in life and business. My degree taught me how to commit to a large, long-term works, and work on many things at once, which is exactly what running a business is.”

Cordelia Raymond, Business owner in Colorado.

Studies cited above: 1). UM School of Art Alumni Survey, 2017. 2). It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success.  Association of American Colleges and Universities, Washington, DC, 2013. 3)UM School of Art Alumni Survey, 2017. 4). "Forks in the Road: The Many Paths of Arts Alumni"Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, Indiana University, 2011. 5). Lindemann, D. J., Tepper, S. J., et al. "Painting with broader strokes: Reconsidering the worth of an arts degree", Vanderbilt University, 2012. 6)."A Diverse Palette: What Arts Graduates Say About Their Education and Careers", Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, Indiana University, 2012. 7).UM School of Art Alumni Survey, 2017. 8).UM School of Art Alumni Survey, 2017