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Creative Jobs
20 Jobs for Creative People That Actually Pay Well
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Terri Williams
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Creative jobs often get a bad rap for being low-paying career choices. The idea that people who aspire to perform creative endeavors will struggle to make ends meet for their whole lives is a common trope. And it is true that some creative-minded people do end up with lower-paying roles than some other positions in more technical or scientific fields.

For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for art and design occupations is $44,410. This salary is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which the BLS puts at $37,040. While this may seem like good news for creative individuals at first, taking into account the fact that the category of "all occupations" would also include jobs that do not require a college degree—and some that do not even require a high school diploma—makes the creative fields seem a little less lucrative.

But if you are a creative person looking for a job that exercises your talents and interests—and allows you to earn a decent living—don't despair! There are plenty of creative jobs that actually pay very well and allow you to use your unique strengths and talents.

“Talented creative professionals can receive very attractive, competitive salaries, depending on their skills and experience," says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group.

From graphic designers to writers to web designers, there are many positions and opportunities for creative work and career paths for people with a diverse range of talents, strengths, and abilities.

Using data from the BLS and The Creative Group, we have outlined some of these well-paying creative career paths—as well as their average salaries and projected growth—below:

What Are Creative Jobs That Pay Well?

There are tons of art and design jobs from which to choose, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor that collects data on employment and the average salary of different positions and roles within a wide range of fields and industries. This includes information on median and mean pay, required education, and projected job growth or decline for particular occupations and lines of work. However, while the BLS collects data on hundreds of jobs, it does not cover every single occupation on the market. So, while you will see many creative fields represented below, you will not see salary information for every possible occupation, simply because the BLS doesn't provide the data on earnings and salary ranges. For example, the BLS has data on graphic designers but not on user experience designers.

For people with strengths in visual arts and design, there are many career possibilities available. And while the idea of being a struggling artist may seem unappealing, don't worry! There are actually plenty of well-paying jobs for people interested in the visual arts.

According to the BLS, these are the four highest-paying jobs in art and design fields:

1. Art Directors

Median Pay: $89,830 per year or $43.18 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, art director positions are projected to grow by 5 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in a design or art field

Art directors earn the highest wages in the states of California ($126,060), New York ($124,300), Missouri ($107,560), Massachusetts ($104,140), and Washington ($101,000). (Salaries represent state averages for the art director positions.)

2. Industrial Designers

Median Pay: $67,790 per year or $32.59 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, industrial designer positions are projected to grow by 4 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in architecture, industrial design, or engineering

Industrial designers earn the highest wages in the states of New Jersey ($88,170), Massachusetts ($84,100), South Carolina ($80,240), Nevada ($78,590), and Michigan ($78,300). (Salaries represent state averages for industrial designer positions.)

3. Multimedia Artists and Animators

Median Pay: $65,300 per year or $31.40 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, multimedia artist and animator positions are projected to grow by 8 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a similar field.

Multimedia artists and animators earn the highest wages in the states of California ($82,680), Connecticut ($78,870), Massachusetts ($77,370), the District of Columbia ($76,530), and Washington ($76,130). (Salaries represent state averages for multimedia artist or animator positions.)

4. Fashion Designers

Median Pay: $65,170 per year or $31.33 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, fashion designer positions are projected to grow by 3 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising.

Fashion designers earn the highest wages in the states of Massachusetts ($88,390), Georgia ($85,230), New York ($83,980), Connecticut ($77,330), and California $76,370). (Salaries represent state averages for fashion designer positions.)

There are many other opportunities for creative fashion designers and artists, but these are the top average grossing positions according to the BLS. Other art and design jobs that pay less than other creative work involving visual arts include: interior designers ($49,810), craft and fine artists ($48,780), and graphic designers ($47,640).

5. Media and Communications Jobs

Wordsmiths and media enthusiasts may find plenty of well-paying jobs in media and communications fields. If you want to exercise your writing and language skills, you don't need to compromise on your salary expectations; according to the BLS, these are the highest-paying jobs in media and communications:

6. Technical Writers

Median Pay: $69,850 per year or $33.58 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, technical writer positions are projected to grow by 11 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, usually in journalism, communications, or English. Depending on the type of technical writing you do, you may also need knowledge of a field like computer science, medicine, or engineering.

Technical writers earn the highest wages in the states of California ($86,530), Massachusetts ($84,580), District of Columbia ($83,820), Connecticut ($83,790), and New Mexico ($82,760). (Salaries represent state averages for technical writer positions.)

7. Writers and Authors

Median Pay: $61,240 per year or $29.44 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, writer and author positions are projected to grow by 8 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or communications

Writers and authors earn the highest wages in the states of the District of Columbia ($97,970), California ($95,920), New York ($83,060), Maryland ($80,110), and Colorado ($74,660). (Salaries represent state averages for writer and author positions.)

8. Film and Video Editors

Median Pay: $62,760 per year or $30.18 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, film and video editor positions are projected to grow by 17 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in communications or film/broadcasting.

Film and video editors earn the highest wages in the states of California ($105,450), New York ($83,930), District of Columbia ($79,310), Connecticut ($74,090), and New Mexico ($71,350). (Salaries represent state averages for film and video editor positions.)

9. Camera Operators

Median Pay: $55,080 per year or $26.48 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, projected to grow by 7 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in film/broadcasting or communications.

Camera operators earn the highest wages in the states of the District of Columbia ($87,220), New York ($82,780), California ($75,550), Oregon ($65,880), and Washington ($65,000). (Salaries represent state averages for camera operator positions.)

10. Public Relations Specialists

Median Pay: $58,020 per year or $27.89 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, public relations positions are projected to grow by 9 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Usually a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, journalism, English, business, or a related field.

Public relations specialists earn the highest wages in the states of the District of Columbia ($95,750), California ($77,870), Virginia ($76,110), Rhode Island ($75,170), and Washington ($71,410). (Salaries represent state averages for public relations specialist positions.)

11. Editors

Median Pay: $57,210 per year or $27.51 per hour

Job Outlook: Through 2026, editor positions are projected to decline by about 1 percent.

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Editors earn the highest wages in the states of the District of Columbia ($87,860), New Jersey ($80,450), Massachusetts ($79,890), New York ($78,370), California ($77,830). (Salaries represent state averages for editor positions.)

There are plenty of other media and communications positions available across the county, though they may not be as well compensated as the ones listed above. For instance, photographers receive an average salary of $34,070, according to the BLS.

What Creative Jobs Are in Demand?

Each year, The Creative Group releases a salary guide for creative and marketing jobs.

“Since businesses are increasingly focusing on digital initiatives, design thinking and improving customer experience, creative professionals with experience in these areas can see higher salaries,” explains Domeyer.

She lists some of these occupations and corresponding average salaries as follows:

12. Content strategist: $73,000

13. Digital marketing manager: $80,000

14. Digital strategist: $91,250

15. Front-end web developer: $72,750

16. Marketing analytics manager: $93,250

17. User experience (UX) designers: $93,000

18. User experience (UX) researchers: $71,000

19. User interface (UI) designers: $72,750

20. Visual designer: $81,000

Creative skills do offer earning potential in your career, but that doesn't mean you can't extend your knowledge and skills beyond the arts realm. For creatives who want to increase their earning potential, Domeyer recommends developing your digital expertise. “For example, graphic designers may want to incorporate web or mobile design into their skill sets,” she says. “Copywriters could learn search engine optimization (SEO) and perfect writing for a web audience.”

As the world increasingly relies on digital spaces to share and communicate ideas, concepts, and projects, gaining skills that can add to your artistic and creative strengths can help you secure a lucrative position in the competitive job market. Honing your ability to articulate and demonstrate these skills and strengths can give applicants a leg up during the interview process. It is also worthwhile to add these important digital skills to your resume, so hiring managers and recruiters will see them during a quick glance or overview of your application. Having knowledge of relevant tools and resources will demonstrate that you are serious about personal growth, the industry, and keeping your skillset and your work up to date—and will ultimately put you ahead of the pack and give you higher earning potential in the short- and long-term.

“Creative professionals who are familiar with the latest industry tools, technologies and trends are always in high demand, so make learning an ongoing priority," Domeyer says.

--

Terri Williams is a business, higher ed, tech, and ethics journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, Robert Half, U.S. News & World Report, About.com (dotdash), and Business.com. Follow her on Twitter @Territoryone.

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