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Careers for people who are creative.

If you think creativity is only for artists, think again. People use creativity every day in all kinds of ways, whether posting on social media or developing a mobile app.

For some people, creativity is an essential part of their work. "To be creative is the most exciting thing you can do," says Chris Triola, owner of a textile design studio in Lansing, Michigan. "It's as necessary to me as eating and breathing."

But making creativity your career typically requires hard work and perseverance. For workers who do it on their own, it also means learning how to market themselves and run a business.

This article highlights selected occupations that involve creativity. It uses U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to show employment, projected openings, and wages for these occupations. And it points out how to get started in a creative career.

Occupations and outlook

Most occupations involve some form of creativity. A salesperson, for example, might design a more engaging product pitch, and a physicist might devise a new way of understanding nature.

In some occupations, creativity is an integral part of the job. Artists and related workers, designers, and media and communication workers, for example, all use creativity nearly every day.

The tables show, for selected occupations, employment and the percentage of self-employed workers in 2016; projected openings, on average, from 2016 to 2026; and median annual wages in 2017. Except for three of these occupations--craft artists, floral designers, and photographers--wages were above the $37,690 median for all workers. However, these wage data do not include self-employed workers, and the rate of self-employment was higher in the occupations shown in the tables compared with 6 percent, the rate of self-employment in all occupations.

Artists and related workers

Artists and related workers create aesthetic pieces that try to capture certain beliefs, feelings, or ideas. For example, a painter may try to express happiness through a watercolor landscape of a summer day. Workers in the occupations shown in table 1 typically develop a unique style, which helps to set them apart from others in their field.

The occupations in table 1 are projected to have a total of about 17,800 openings each year, on average, from 2016 to 2026. Art directors is projected to have the most openings of the occupations in the table. It also had the highest median annual wage of any occupation in this article: $92,500.

Designers

Designers, such as those in table 2, make original creations that have practical or aesthetic purpose. Businesses in nearly all industries rely on designers to develop and implement ideas for products or services. Designers may start a project by sketching ideas on paper or creating a computer prototype. Feedback from clients and staff members helps refine the ideas into a final product.

BLS projects the occupations in table 2 to have a total of about 43,200 openings each year, on average, over the 2016-26 decade. Graphic designers is projected to have more than twice as many openings as any other occupation in this article. With a median annual wage of $67,420, fashion designers had the highest wage of the occupations in table 2.

Media and communication workers

The media and communication workers in table 3 use words or images to convey information and ideas. Some write fictional stories; others capture information or describe actual events, such as breaking news.

Overall, BLS projects about 40,600 openings, each year, on average from 2016 to 2026 for the occupations in table 3. Writers and authors is projected to have the most openings of these occupations. Technical writers had a median annual wage of $70,930, the highest of the occupations in the table.

Getting started

You'll need some combination of skills, education and training, and experience to get started in a creative career. Networking and promoting your work are also important.

Skills

Creative workers need technical skills relevant to their occupation, which may involve use of certain equipment. For example, a craft artist who specializes in woodworking needs to be able to make bevel and groove cuts with a saw and a chisel, among other tools.

Communication skills are also important for creative workers. Having ideas is not enough; you must be able to share those ideas through writing or speaking.

And for many people in creative occupations, business skills are pivotal to success--especially if you're self-employed. The Small Business Administration and the nonprofit SCORE offer information for small business owners through free or low-cost resources and services, including workshops, networking events, and one-on-one mentorships.

Education, training, and experience

According to BLS, most creative occupations typically require a bachelor's degree for workers to qualify at the entry level. And in about half of these occupations, workers receive on-the-job training to help them hone their craft. (See table 4.)

Getting an education can help you to build a solid technical and artistic foundation--and may improve employment prospects. Even in occupations that don't typically require education in a formal program, creative workers usually benefit from hands-on learning. For example, you could start out as a hobbyist, then turn your passion into a career after discovering a market for your work.

As table 4 also shows, most creative occupations don't require work experience in a related occupation to qualify for entry-level positions. Still, in occupations such as illustrators and photographers, workers may have started out as assistants or apprentices. Among the few that do need experience is editors; workers in this occupation typically gain experience in a related one, such as reporter.

Networking and self-promotion

To pursue a creative career, you should expect to take the initiative in networking and promoting your work. This process is often difficult in the beginning, when you don't have a large portfolio or many professional connections. But it usually gets easier as you build a reputation.

Having an online portfolio and a social media presence may help you to market your creativity. And applying for grants, such as through the National Endowment for the Arts, offers potential funding.

Above all, remember to be patient. As workers in most fields can attest, it usually takes years to develop a solid career.

For more information

To learn more about the creative occupations in this article--and hundreds of others--see the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). Each OOH profile includes information about work environment, pay, job outlook, and more.

Visit the Career Outlook archives for a list of articles about careers that use creativity. And for a list of nearly 300 occupations that require creative skills, visit the O*NET OnLine database.

Dennis Vilorio (updated by Elka Torpey) | December 2018

Dennis Vilorio wrote this article while working in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. Elka Torpey works in that office and can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov.

SUGGESTED CITATION:

Dennis Vilorio (updated by Elka Torpey), "Careers for people who are creative," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2018.

Note: This is an update of an article originally published in 2015.
Table 1. Selected occupations for artists and related workers

Employment and percent self-employed, 2016; projected openings, 2016-26
annual average; and median annual wage, 2017

                                                  Occupational
                                                     openings,
                                                     projected    Median
                                         Percent       2016-26    annual
                     Employment,  self-employed,        annual     wage,
         Occupation         2016            2016       average  2017 [1]

      Art directors       90,300             59%         7,700   $92,500
      Craft artists       12,500             60          1,100    34,940
      Fine artists,       28,000             59          2,400    49,520
including painters,
     sculptors, and
       illustrators
 Multimedia artists       73,700             59          6,600    70,530
      and animators

[1] Excludes self-employed workers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational
Statistics and Employment Projections.

Table 2. Selected occupations for designers

Employment and percent self-employed, 2016; projected openings, 2016-26
annual average; and median annual wage, 2017

                                                 Occupational
                                                    openings,
                                                    projected    Median
                                        Percent       2016-26    annual
                    Employment,  self-employed,        annual     wage,
        Occupation         2016            2016       average  2017 [1]

    Commercial and       39,700              19         3,900   $65,970
        industrial
         designers
 Fashion designers       23,800              19         2,300    67,420
  Floral designers       55,000              19         4,500    26,350
 Graphic designers      266,300              18        26,000    48,700
Interior designers       66,500              19         6,500    51,500

[1] Excludes self-employed workers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational
Statistics and Employment Projections.

Table 3. Selected occupations for media and communication workers

Employment and percent self-employed, 2016; projected openings, 2016-26
annual average; and median annual wage, 2017

                             Occupational
                                openings,
                                projected    Median
                    Percent       2016-26    annual
Employment,  self-employed,        annual     wage,
       2016            2016       average  2017 [1]

    127,400              20        12,000   $58,770
     52,400               3         5,700    70,930
    131,200              64        12,600    61,820
    147,300              68        10,300    32,490

[1] Excludes self-employed workers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational
Statistics and Employment Projections

Table 4. Education, work experience, and training for selected creative
occupations

                                  Entry-level        Work     On-the-job
                Occupation          education  experience       training

       Artists and related
                   workers
             Art directors  Bachelor's degree     5 years           None
                                                  or more
             Craft artists          No formal        None      Long-term
                                  educational                 on-the-job
                                   credential                   training
   Fine artists, including  Bachelor's degree        None      Long-term
  painters, sculptors, and                                    on-the-job
              illustrators                                      training
    Multimedia artists and  Bachelor's degree        None           None
                 animators

                 Designers
 Commercial and industrial  Bachelor's degree        None           None
                 designers
         Fashion designers  Bachelor's degree        None           None
          Floral designers        High school        None  Moderate-term
                                   diploma or                 on-the-job
                                   equivalent                   training
         Graphic designers  Bachelor's degree        None           None
        Interior designers  Bachelor's degree        None           None
 Set and exhibit designers  Bachelor's degree        None           None

   Media and communication
                   workers
                   Editors  Bachelor's degree   Less than           None
                                                  5 years
             Photographers        High school        None      Long-term
                                   diploma or                 on-the-job
                                   equivalent                   training
         Technical writers  Bachelor's degree   Less than     Short-term
                                                  5 years     on-the-job
                                                                training
       Writers and authors  Bachelor's degree        None      Long-term
                                                              on-the-job
                                                                training

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational
Statistics and Employment Projections.
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Author:Vilorio, Dennis; Torpey, Elka
Publication:Career Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2018
Words:1626
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