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Visual & Performing Arts Major

Visual and performing arts is a major that typically falls into the Visual & Performing Arts category.

There are 2,448 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in visual and performing arts, 7,915 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 2,056 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 388 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Visual & Performing Arts Degree?

This is one of the most frequently chosen college majors. It is the most popular in the country with students graduating with a bachelor’s in visual and performing arts in 2017. This major is dominated by women with about 61.5% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 6.1%
  • Black or African American: 7.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 13.4%
  • White: 58.3%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 6.5%
  • Other Races: 8.5%
Visual & Performing Arts Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in visual and performing arts. About 6.5% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending visual and performing arts majors to the U.S. are.

What Will You Learn as a Visual & Performing Arts Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to visual and performing arts to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was 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:

Important Knowledge Areas for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

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:

Important Skills for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

Abilities for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a visual and performing arts student include the following:

Important Abilities for visual and performing arts Majors

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

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

Careers Related to Visual & Performing Arts
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Commercial and Industrial Designers



Multimedia Artists and Animators






Artists and Related Workers









Set and Exhibit Designers



Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators



Music Composers and Arrangers



Program Directors



Visual & Performing Arts Major Salary

Visual and performing arts majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $58,000 to $83,000. 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, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Visual & Performing Arts Major  ( 58000 to 83000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Visual & Performing Arts Major Jobs

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.

How much education 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.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Visual & Performing Arts
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Visual & Performing Arts Programs

There are 7,915 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in visual and performing arts, with 136 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Visual & Performing Arts Major Worth It?

The median salary for a visual and performing arts grad is $64,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 65% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $508,800 after 20 years!

visual and performing arts salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Bonnielou2013 via License

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