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Visual & Performing Arts Major

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Visual & Performing Arts

$64,340 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Visual & Performing Arts Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many visual and performing arts graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 17,224
Doctor’s Degree 1,850
Graduate Certificate 983

What Visual & Performing Arts Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, visual and performing arts majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in visual and performing arts should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to visual and performing arts:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

A major in visual and performing arts will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Visual & Performing Arts Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with visual and performing arts:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Actors 11.6% NA
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes 4.7% $66,040
Architecture Professors 10.5% $86,980
Archivists 14.7% $52,240
Art Directors 5.4% $92,780
Art, Drama, and Music Professors 12.0% $69,960
Artists and Related Workers 5.5% $65,390
Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Motion Picture 7.2% $54,570
Choreographers 2.9% $47,800
Commercial and Industrial Designers 4.3% $66,590
Communications Professors 10.0% $68,910
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
Craft Artists 4.8% $34,240
Curators 13.7% $53,780
Dancers 4.4% NA
Designers 5.6% $60,570
Directors- Stage, Motion Pictures, Television, and Radio 12.2% $71,680
Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers 8.2% NA
Fashion Designers 2.5% $72,720
Film and Video Editors 17.0% $62,650
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators 6.8% $49,380
Graphic Designers 4.2% $50,370
Interior Designers 4.5% $53,370
Investment Fund Managers 8.0% $107,480
Multimedia Artists and Animators 8.4% $72,520
Museum Technicians and Conservators 12.7% $43,020
Music Composers and Arrangers 5.7% $49,630
Music Directors 5.7% $49,630
Musicians, Instrumental 6.0% NA
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170
Producers 12.2% $71,680
Professors 9.4% $65,660
Program Directors 12.2% $71,680
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Set and Exhibit Designers 10.3% $54,270
Singers 6.0% NA
Sound Engineering Technicians 6.5% $52,390
Talent Directors 12.2% $71,680
Technical Directors/Managers 12.2% $71,680

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Visual & Performing Arts?

17,224 Master's Degrees Annually
59% Percent Women
21% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 59% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of visual and performing arts majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Visual & Performing Arts Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 751
Black or African American 1,019
Hispanic or Latino 1,349
White 8,306
International Students 4,355
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,444

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Visual & Performing Arts. About 25.3% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Visual & Performing Arts Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of visual and performing arts students with a master’s degree is $28,000 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $22,500 (25th percentile) and $34,700 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to visual and performing arts.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $58,370 to $82,560 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to visual and performing arts. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Visual & Performing Arts Major  ( 58370 to 82560 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with visual and performing arts require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to visual and performing arts have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 5.1%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 11.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 5.2%
Some College Courses 9.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 7.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 34.8%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.8%
Master’s Degree 16.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.1%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 2.1%
Doctoral Degree 5.8%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.5%

Online Visual & Performing Arts Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,304 schools offered some type of visual and performing arts program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 1,031 45
Certificate (1-2 years) 746 28
Certificate (2-4 Years) 129 6
Associate’s Degree 2,436 107
Bachelor’s Degree 290 12
Post-Baccalaureate 1,031 45
Master’s Degree 2,055 98
Post-Master’s 89 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 372 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 9 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 12 0

Is a Degree in Visual & Performing Arts Worth It?

The median salary for a visual and performing arts grad is $64,340 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 61% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $488,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to visual and performing arts.

Major Number of Grads
Theology & Religious Vocations 17,991
English Language & Literature 9,891
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 4,466
Philosophy & Religious Studies 2,510
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 2,436

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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