Career Options for Art & Design Students

Guest contributor Ella, looks at some of the career options for art & design graduates. Some careers use your technical skills, but there are also job opportunities requiring transferrable skills that can take you into many sectors you may not have considered.



Career Options for Art & Design Graduates


Some people have known all of their lives what career they want – whereas, for others, the decision is more difficult.  Some art and design courses are vocational, whereas many are not; either way, you will have many career options open to you.

It’s important to bear in mind that your art and design degree not only gives you knowledge and technical skills in specific art and design areas, but also valuable transferable skills (such as research, analysis, communication and organisational skills), which can take you into many sectors.

If you are still undecided on the career path that you want to take, here are some of the directions you could consider…


Interior Design

If you’ve always loved reorganising your bedroom or had a flair for making your home look beautiful then interior design could be the career for you. As an interior designer, you will work closely with your clients to help them to create the space that works for them on a functional level as well as a stylistic level and with attention to the ‘feeling’ of a room.

Some interior designers will focus on a particular room – designing bespoke kitchens or bathrooms, while others will work more generally, for example on new home designs and renovations, or offices and commercial premises. You have the option of working for a specialist interior design company, as part of another company or on your own as a freelancer. A career in interior design offers new challenges every day and requires you to stay up to date with technological advances as well as laws and regulations.


Fine Artist

This is perhaps one of the most obvious of the career options if you have studied art or design, but it is also one of the toughest. To earn your living as an artist you need dedication and talent, as well as an ability to sell yourself and network. Many people concentrate on a particular style, medium or subject matter.

Starting off can be especially difficult, until people know who you are and your work; many people begin doing their artwork alongside another job until they are in a position to reduce their hours and eventually go to working as an artist full-time.



Illustrators use their artistic skills to create illustrations in a number of areas – from greetings cards and books to clothes and animations. Depending on your area of expertise, you can use traditional artistic skills, or, as is becoming increasingly popular, software packages and digital art.

Although there are some employed illustrator jobs available, most are self-employed, meaning that in addition to your artistic talent, you will also need to be able to sell and promote yourself, work to deadlines and be self-motivated. Although qualifications can help, the most important thing is your artistic skills.


Exhibition Display Designer

Working as an exhibition display designer, you could be working with businesses who are using exhibitions for marketing purposes, museums, libraries or trade events to display material in the best and most appropriate way. You will work closely with your clients to get an understanding of what they are looking for and then your job is to bring it to life.

The way that information and material is displayed can make a massive difference to how it is interpreted by visitors. Most exhibition display designers will work for a design company and the job often requires travel and working to deadlines.


Art Therapist

Art therapy has only come onto the scene relatively recently, but as someone who has studied art and design, you’re probably familiar with some of the therapeutic aspects. Art therapists use art and creativity to help people who have difficulty expressing their feelings and dealing with emotional issues.

Art therapy uses a mixture of artistic skills with psychotherapy and is a very worthwhile job – although sometimes emotionally challenging. Art therapists must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), and would usually work for the NHS. To qualify, you would need to do an approved post-graduate degree in art therapy or art psychotherapy.


Having completed a degree in art and design, other careers you might wish to consider include:


Art valuer

Art curator

Art administrator



Graphic designer


Art teacher

Fashion designer

Film and TV set designer


A degree in art and design can open up many career options. With an understanding of what interests you most, your skills and the type of jobs available, you can be sure to find yourself on the path to a long and successful career.



Ella Hendrix is an emerging freelance writer, typically covering articles on career development, business trends and human resources. Away from her writing, you will find her hiking hills with her golden retrievers or at her local library collecting books.