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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 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 95,035
Associate’s Degree 20,002
Master’s Degree 17,759
Undergraduate Certificate 10,951
Basic Certificate 7,682
Doctor’s Degree 1,760
Graduate Certificate 1,069

What Visual & Performing Arts Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to visual and performing arts and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

  • 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:

  • 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

As you progress with your visual and performing arts degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

  • 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?

People with a visual and performing arts degree often go into the following careers:

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 Bachelor’s Degree in Visual & Performing Arts?

95,035 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
61% Percent Women
32% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major is dominated by women with about 61% 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 Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 5,758
Black or African American 6,855
Hispanic or Latino 12,759
White 55,395
International Students 6,155
Other Races/Ethnicities 8,113

Geographic Diversity

Visual & Performing Arts appeals to people across the globe. About 6.5% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Visual & Performing Arts Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visual and performing arts have a median salary of $23,600 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $20,400 (25th percentile) and $28,500 (75th percentile).


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

Visual and Performing Arts majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $58,370 to $82,560 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with visual and performing arts require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for visual and performing arts careers below.

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 2017-2018 academic year, 2,339 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) 941 57
Certificate (1-2 years) 728 31
Certificate (2-4 Years) 135 6
Associate’s Degree 2,448 111
Bachelor’s Degree 283 10
Post-Baccalaureate 941 57
Master’s Degree 2,056 92
Post-Master’s 90 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 367 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!


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

Major Number of Grads
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 516,754
English Language & Literature 57,989
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 34,883
Theology & Religious Vocations 31,559
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,163


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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