There’s a widely held conception that people who earn degrees in the fine arts — painting, sculpture, dance, music, theater, among others — are throwing money away on a degree that can reap no long-term benefits. But the fact is that a fine-arts degree is no real hindrance to making a decent living in the real world.
Maybe most won’t be rich, but they can enjoy a middle-class life.
The Wall Street Journal reports on a 2011 study from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, in which it found that the median income of recent fine-arts graduates was a respectable $42,000 and that the unemployment rate for those recent graduates was a better than average 7.8%.
A happy middle-class life.
“Artists can have good careers, earning a middle-class income,” says the Center’s director. “And, just as important and maybe more, artists tend to be happy with their choices and lives.”
According to that report, former fine-arts majors are making about the same living as all those people who have a liberal arts degree. In some cases, those with a fine-arts background are actually doing better.
Other college majors may be worse choices.
“They do a little better than psychology majors, since counseling and social work is a very low-wage occupation,” explains the director.
Related: Art Makes You Smart (New York Times)