Business and Arts Careers: What does the job market look like?

Throughout 2016, Career College Central is focusing on a specific career area in each edition, emphasizing Business and Arts in September/October. In this series of Focus On: Careers articles, we analyze data from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook to forecast the employment market, outside influences and various career paths for each career field.

It may seem odd to combine the fields of business and art, since they appear to be polar opposites at first glance: left brain versus right brain, sales-driven versus passion-driven, relationship-dependent versus intrinsically motivated. However, there are more similarities between business and the arts than there are differences. Most importantly, both fields are changing drastically from the way they looked even five years ago. Technological innovations have transformed communication and financial transactions as well as provided new media for artists to work with. People in both fields no longer have to feel confined to an office from 9 to 5, as the opportunities for remote work and entrepreneurship continue to expand. Additionally, while most positions within the fields of business and the arts don’t technically require formal education, people who find success generally do so with the help of education.

Business

No matter which industries are growing or declining, the principles of business will always reign. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Employment of business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations, adding about 632,400 new jobs. A stronger regulatory environment is driving the demand for more accountants and auditors who prepare and examine financial documents.”

The median annual wage for business occupations was $65,710 in May 2015, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $36,200.

The Arts

Sometimes broadly defined as “the creative field,” this is more than a career path for aspiring painters, poets or musicians. Today, roles for graphic artists, designers, illustrators, sound engineers, music editors, video game developers, audio/visual professionals, writers and others whose jobs involve tapping into their creative sides are in demand. As Americans continue to immerse themselves in entertainment, the arts are going to play a larger role in our labor force moving forward, as are career colleges. But these individuals must also have a strong knowledge of their profession and the technical skills to realize their visions. That’s why many career schools offer — or are considering offering — programs that involve their students’ creative talents. 

Those who are most successful in the arts generally have a modicum of business intelligence as well. After all, the art they create, in whatever form, is a product or service that deserves to be marketed and sold appropriately. Creative workers who end up self-employed or opening a business will need an even stronger background in economics, business principles and legal matters.

Spotlight On: Business and Arts Career Options

Career colleges and technical schools around the country offer a variety of degree and nondegree programs that help meet the demand for business professionals and artists by helping students begin careers they’re passionate about. Here is just a sampling of available career options:   

ACCOUNTANTS

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $67,190 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing faster than average (11 percent projected growth)

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.”

Their job duties often include

  • Examining financial records to make sure they’re accurate and in compliance with pertinent laws and regulations
  • Preparing tax returns, computing taxes owed and making sure they’re paid on time
  • Inventing new computing languages, tools and methods to improve the ways people use computers
  • Developing, testing and improving software systems
  • Publishing their findings in academic journals and presenting their findings at conferences

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm

Bookkeepers

Entry-level education: Some college

Median pay (2015): $37,250 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Declining (negative 8 percent projected growth)

Bookkeepers record financial transactions, update statements and check financial records for accuracy at a variety of organizations. They generally need some postsecondary education but learn a lot of their skills on the job. These days, bookkeeping duties have changed because so many technology programs have been put in place to track organizations’ finances.

Their job duties often include

  • Using bookkeeping software, keeping online spreadsheets and referring to databases
  • Posting financial data into the appropriate software
  • Receiving and recording cash, checks, vouchers, debits and credits
  • Checking for accuracy in figures, postings and reports
  • Preparing for audit and reporting any inaccuracies found in financial records

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm#tab-1

Human resources specialists

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $58,350 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: As fast as average (5 percent projected growth)

No matter how the working world changes in the future, no computer algorithm can account for whether or not a person will be a good fit for an organization. That’s where human resources specialists come in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they “recruit, screen, interview and place workers” and often handle other human resources work, including areas such as employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Their job duties may include

  • Consulting closely with employers to determine employment needs
  • Screening applicants by experience, education and skills
  • Interviewing applicants, contacting references and performing background checks
  • Conducting or assisting with new employee orientation
  • Keeping employment records and processing payments

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Human Resources Specialists,  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm

Sales managers

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $113,860 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing as fast as average (5 percent projected growth)

Sales managers direct organizations’ sales teams and strategies by setting goals, analyzing data, developing training programs and motivating sales representatives. They generally begin their careers as sales representatives, work full time and are often required to travel within a certain territory.

Their job duties often include

  • Resolving customer complaints around sales, service and products
  • Preparing departmental budgets and approving expenditures
  • Monitoring consumer experiences to determine sales strategies
  • Analyzing sales statistics
  • Projecting for budgets and determining the profitability of offerings
  • Developing plans to acquire new customers and upsell existing customers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Sales Managers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-1

Cosmetologists

Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Median pay (2015): $23,710 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing faster than average (10 percent projected growth)

Cosmetologists have the power to transform people — not just on the outside by cutting, coloring and styling hair; caring for skin; and polishing nails; but on the inside too. A new look or a bit of pampering can completely change the way people feel about themselves by boosting their self-esteem, highlighting their personal style and making them feel pampered.

Their jobs often include

  • Analyzing hair, scalp and skin to recommend care and treatment
  • Discussing hairstyle options with clients
  • Washing, coloring and chemically treating hair
  • Cutting, drying and styling hair

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Cosmetologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/barbers-hairdressers-and-cosmetologists.htm

Illustrators

Entry-level education: None formally needed, though many artists do earn a bachelor’s or masters’ degree

Median pay (2015): $45,080 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing slower than average (2 percent projected growth)

Illustrators fall under the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Craft and Fine Artists” designation. They use a variety of techniques to create art that accompanies books, marketing materials, promotional materials, branding materials and more. According to the BLS, illustrators “create pictures for books, magazines and other publications and for commercial products such as textiles, wrapping paper, stationery, greeting cards and calendars. Increasingly, illustrators are using computers in their work. They might draw in pen and pencil and then scan the image into a computer program to be colored in, or they might use a special pen to draw images directly onto the computer.”

Their jobs often include

  • Developing creative ideas alongside their requestors
  • Creating sketches and templates to guide their work
  • Using visual techniques like composition, color, space and perspective to produce the desired visual results
  • Developing portfolios to highlight their abilities and work

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Craft and Fine Artists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm

Film and video editors

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $55,740 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing faster than average (11 percent projected growth)

Film and video editors cut and manipulate films created for entertainment or education. As production companies continue working with new content delivery methods (like mobile devices or through online television), there may be expanded opportunity for work.

Their job duties often include

  • Shooting, recording and cutting TV shows, movies, music videos, documentaries, or news and sports commentary
  • Organizing digital footage with video editing software
  • Working with a director to concept a film’s vision
  • Selecting equipment for each scene, like lenses and lighting

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm

Fashion designers

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2012): $63,670 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing slower than average (3 percent projected growth)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design.”

Their job duties often include

  • Studying fashion trends and designing pieces that will appeal to buyers
  • Using computer-aided design programs to create designs
  • Visiting trade shows to get fabric samples
  • Working with other designers or team members to create prototypes
  • Showcasing designs in fashion shows
  • Marketing designs to retailers and/or consumers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Fashion Designers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm

Graphic designers

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $46,900 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Little or no change in growth (1 percent projected growth)

Graphic designers are generally employed by businesses, design services, publishing houses or advertising firms. Using computer programs, they create visual concepts for advertisements, brochures, magazines and reports that communicate captivating, informative and inspiring ideas.

Their job duties often include

  • Meeting with art directors or clients to determine the scope and vision for a project
  • Using digital illustration and editing software to create designs
  • Designing visual elements like logos, images and illustrations to deliver a message
  • Designing layouts and selecting colors, images and typefaces
  • Presenting designs to clients, incorporating recommended changes, and reviewing designs for error before printing or publishing

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Graphic Designers,  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm

Multimedia artists and animators

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2015): $164,970 annually

Job outlook, 2014-24: Growing as fast as average (6 percent projected growth)

Multimedia artists and animators create animations and visual effects for TV, movies, video games and the internet. Generally, they focus specifically on one of these areas of expertise. Because there will be increased demand for media in each of these categories over the next decade, the field will continue to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.”

Their job duties often include

  • Using computer programs to create graphics and animations
  • Working with a team of artists to create a movie, video game or visual effect
  • Developing storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Editing animations based on feedback

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Multimedia Artists and Animators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm