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Starting salary: $39,400
Mid-career salary: $60,500
Annual online job postings: 15,280
Andy Warhol said, “Making money is art…and good business is the best art.” Too bad the reverse is frequently untrue. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, typically collect precious little pay, earning a median income of less than $18,950 a year. Demand for their work, after all, is dependent largely on people’s discretionary income (and fleeting tastes); when times are tough, purchasing art is often left out of most household budgets. Indeed, 4.9% of fine arts majors are unemployed and 19.3% have dropped out of the workforce, according to the Hamilton Project.
Despite the high likelihood of low pay for art majors, students committed to studying art can make their degrees pay off better if they pick the right school to attend. Based on 20-year net “return on investment” calculations from PayScale, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Fashion Institute of Technology are the top-ranking schools for arts majors (including fine arts, drama, music, industrial design and more) living on campus and receiving financial aid. FIT has a relatively low four-year cost of $89,000, helping bump up its 20-year ROI to $443,000. That means that over the two decades following college graduation, an art major from FIT can expect to earn $443,000 more than a high school grad, even accounting for the latter’s additional four years in the workforce and the cost of college.
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