Should You Go to School for a Career in Business or the Arts?

Should You Go to School for a Career in Business or the Arts?

On one hand, you have the image of someone in an executive-level sales career. Picture a woman in a business suit, making far above the average American’s salary, sitting behind a desk from 8 to 5—and occasionally sitting business class on yet another flight to close a multi-million-dollar deal. On the other hand, you have the image of an artist. Picture a man with paint splattered on his pants and under his fingernails, selling his work online and in local galleries, keeping odd hours—creating when the mood strikes—and free from the trappings of a typical office job. With these images in mind, you might wonder why we group business and the arts into one category. Which two careers could be more different?

But that’s not the whole picture of today’s business and arts career options. Thanks to technological innovations that have transformed the way employees work, there are more similarities in these career paths than there has ever been before. For example, it’s increasingly important for people in both fields to be excellent written and verbal communicators, good at paying attention to details and deadlines, and able to translate the desires of clients and superiors into a product that makes everyone happy. Additionally, a large percentage of today’s ever-growing opportunities to work remotely are accessible to people in business and the arts.

Still trying to figure out if a career in business or the arts could be right for you? Here are a few things to consider:

Do you like to keep your options open? Business and arts degrees provide some of the most open-ended possibilities in higher education. While this may mean there is less of a clear path to a career than with some other fields of study, it also means you’ll be qualified for and able to translate your skills and knowledge into a variety of options. If you’re not entirely sure yet what you want to do with your life, this wealth of possibilities might appeal to you.

Do you have a thick skin when it comes to your work? People who work in the arts need to understand that their careers won’t always be powered by creative muses. To enjoy and succeed in an arts career, you will need to anticipate changes and criticism from your employer or clients—and not take it too personally. Today, art is business as well, and a critique of your project is almost never a critique of your talent.

Do you have dreams of being an entrepreneur? While formal education isn’t technically necessary to start your own small (or big!) business, many successful entrepreneurs are those with a business education behind them. With a solid understanding of the principles of business, you’ll be able to determine a plan for your business, anticipate any challenges or hurdles you may come across, and quickly pivot if your plan isn’t going as hoped.

Are you persistent? Creating—paintings, digital graphics, connections between businesses, and more—takes time. For artists, the process of bringing that vision from imagination into the real world can be long, painstaking, and frustrating. For businesspeople, the process of making a sale can also be, well, long, painstaking, and frustrating. You can’t give up on a project you’re working on in either career field.

Are you good with people? Contrary to the economics courses that are the basis of many a business education, a career in business is about a lot more than numbers. To be successful, you’ll first and foremost be building relationships: with colleagues, clients, potential customers, vendors and suppliers, and more. These strong relationships will become the foundation necessary to talk numbers and ensure all parties are happy.

What Are Some of My Career Options in the Fields of Business and the Arts?

If you think a career in business or the arts is right for you, there is no shortage of ways to get there—and no shortage of careers that might be a great fit. Colleges, universities, career colleges, and technical schools around the country offer degree- and non-degree-granting programs, on campus and online, that can get you on the right path.

Accounting

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, the typical entry-level job requires a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $69,350 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing faster than average from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? No

Accountants work full-time to ensure that financial records are accurate, assess financial operations and ensure organizations run efficiently, and make sure that organizations and individuals pay their taxes correctly and on time. Often, accountants can expect a busy season that usually falls when taxes are due or when an organization is creating its budget for the next year.

 

As an accountant, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Examining financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations
  • Computing taxes owed, preparing tax returns, and ensuring that taxes are paid properly and on time
  • Inspecting account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures
  • Organizing and maintaining financial records
  • Assessing financial operations and making best-practice recommendations to management
  • Suggesting ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits

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

Bookkeeping

Do I need to go back to school? Most people in these roles have some college but no degree

How much money could I make? $39,240 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Little or no change from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? No

The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups bookkeepers with bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, and says that people in these careers “record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy,” ultimately producing the financial records for organizations.

As a bookkeeper, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Using bookkeeping software, spreadsheets, and databases
  • Entering (post) financial transactions into the appropriate computer software
  • Receiving and recording cash, checks, and vouchers
  • Putting costs (debits) and income (credits) into digital systems, assigning each to an appropriate account
  • Producing reports like balance sheets, income statements, and totals by account
  • Checking for accuracy in figures, postings, and reports
  • Reconciling or noting and reporting any differences found

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bookkeeping, Accounting And Auditing Clerks, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm

 

Human Resource Specialist

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll probably need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $60,350 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing as fast as average from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? No

Human resource specialists are largely responsible for coordinating the hiring processes for corporations. They recruit, screen, interview, and place workers in a variety of roles, and also handle compensation and benefits, training, and employee relations and office conduct.

As a human resources specialist, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Consulting with employers to identify employment needs
  • Interviewing applicants about their experience, education, and skills
  • Contacting references and performing background checks on job applicants
  • Informing applicants about job details, duties, benefits, and working conditions
  • Hiring or referring qualified candidates for employers
  • Conducting or helping with new employee orientation
  • Keeping employment records and processing paperwork
  • Guiding employees through policies and answering their questions

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

 

Sales Manager

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $121,060 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing as fast as average from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? No

Sales managers are in charge of teams of salespeople for organizations of all sizes. They may work to create sales strategies, keep up with competitors and market trends, and create training programs for their sales representatives. It is common for sales managers to travel for work.

As a sales manager, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Resolving customer complaints regarding sales and service
  • Preparing budgets and approving expenditures
  • Monitoring customer preferences to determine the focus of sales efforts
  • Analyzing sales statistics
  • Projecting sales and determining the profitability of products and services
  • Developing plans to acquire new customers or clients
  • Assigning sales territories and setting sales quotas for representatives
  • Planning and coordinating training programs for sales staff

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sales Managershttps://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm

 

Cosmetologist

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you will need to graduate from cosmetology school

How much money could I make? $30,490 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing about as fast as average from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? Many employers would recommend it

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says cosmetologists, along with hairdressers and hairstylists, “provide beauty services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling hair, and massaging and treating scalp. May apply makeup, dress wigs, perform hair removal, and provide nail and skin care services.” They may work in across industries including personal care, the motion picture and television industry, or in health and personal care retail stores.

As a cosmetologist, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Preparing hair for styling by analyzing hair condition, shampooing, and treating hair
  • Combining skill and knowledge with clients’ wishes to achieve their desired effect
  • Communicating with clients
  • Staying up-to-date with the newest styles and techniques
  • Maintaining salon supplies by checking stock, anticipating needs, and placing orders

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Hairdressers, Hairstylists and Cosmetologists, https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes395012.htm

 

Illustrator

Do I need to go back to school? Not necessarily, depending on your portfolio

How much money could I make? $57,520 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing faster than average from 2016 to 2026

Would I need to keep up with on-the-job training? No

Illustrators create original artwork and designs to sell independently, for books, movies, and television, for corporations, and for other individuals.

As an illustrator, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Producing drawings and graphics for use in books, advertisements, packaging, and more
  • Working with editors, authors, or designers to achieve the desired result
  • Negotiating contracts and timescales
  • Undertaking relevant research and generating ideas

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fine Artisist including Painters, Sculptors and Illustrators, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271013.htm

 

Film and/or Video Editor

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $58,210 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing faster than average from 2016 to 2026

On-the-job training? No

The Bureau of Labor statistics lumps film and video editors in with camera operators and describes their job duties as “manipulating moving images that entertain or inform an audience.” In actuality, the duties of editors and camera operators are quite different, as a film editor can drastically impact the final product of a motion picture, both visually and artistically. They typically work in offices or studios.

As a video editor, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Shooting and recording television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
  • Using editing software to organize digital footage
  • Collaborating with directors to determine the overall vision of the production
  • Discussing filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
  • Selecting the appropriate equipment for each scenario, like lenses or lighting
  • Shooting or editing a scene based on the director’s vision

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

 

Fashion Designer

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $67,420 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing slightly slower than average from 2016 to 2026

On-the-job training? No

Fashion designers sketch designs and select fabric and patterns to create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. Some fashion designers specialize in clothing, footwear, or accessory design; others create designs in all three fashion categories.

As a fashion designer, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Studying fashion trends and anticipating designs that will appeal to consumers
  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) programs to create designs
  • Visiting manufacturers or trade shows to get samples of fabric
  • Selecting fabrics, embellishments, colors, and style for each garment or accessory
  • Working with other designers or team members to create prototype designs
  • Presenting design ideas to the creative director or showcasing them in fashion or trade shows
  • Marketing designs to clothing retailers or directly to consumers
  • Overseeing the final production of designs

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

 

Graphic Designer

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $48,700 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing slightly slower than average from 2016 to 2026

On-the-job training? No

Graphic designers use technology or traditional methods to create visual concepts that “inspire, inform, and captivate consumers,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They may work for corporations, agencies, or for themselves—one-fifth of graphics designers were self-employed in 2016.

 

  • As a graphic designer, I would spend my days doing things like:
  • Meeting with clients or art directors to determine the scope of a project
  • Using digital illustration, photo editing software, and layout software to create designs
  • Creating visual elements like logos, original images, and illustrations that help deliver a desired message
  • Designing layouts and selecting colors, images, and typefaces to use
  • Presenting design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Incorporating changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
  • Reviewing designs for errors before printing or publishing them

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

 

Multimedia Artist and/or Animator

Do I need to go back to school? Yes, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree

How much money could I make? $70,530 was the average salary in 2017

What’s the demand like for this job? Growing as fast as average from 2016 to 2026

On-the-job training? No

Multimedia artists and animators work to create visual effects for TV, movies, video games, and other media. They usually choose one specific discipline in which to work. They may work for corporations in offices, or for themselves from home.

As a multimedia artist or animator, I would spend my days doing things like:

  • Using computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation
  • Working with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Researching upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animations
  • Developing storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Editing animations and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, colleagues, designers, or clients
  • Meeting with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development timelines

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

 

Sidebar

Did you know? “Employment of business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 773,800 new jobs.”

Did you know? Accountants and auditors are among the top 15 careers projected to create the most new jobs between 2016 and 2026.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar