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Arts Jobs That Require No College Degree

Teachers at art academy high schools are sometimes approached by students asking about arts jobs that require no college degree.

This isn’t surprising at any school these days. After all, higher education has become too expensive and out of reach for many graduating high school students. Plus, a degree no longer means a guaranteed job.

Fortunately, there are several avenues that artists can explore that don’t require a college degree.

Arts Jobs That Require No College Degree

High school juniors and seniors edging ever closer to graduation often feel nervous about what’s next. For highly creative and artistic students who have no sight set on college, there is increased anxiety. They may believe their only option is to work in food service while they try to ‘make it’ as an artist.

While that may have been true at one time, it’s no longer the reality.

In fact, with a little ingenuity and an enterprising spirit, artists can find paying jobs that allow them to utilize their skills while keeping their creative juices flowing.


If you’re coming out of high school with an impressive portfolio of drawings, paintings, and digital art illustrations, you may be able to find work in a variety of digital platforms and even print media.

While this may require you to hustle and work as a freelancer, some brands will hire illustrators to work with a team of creative folks in delivering an intended message. There is also work in publishing doing illustrations for books. Or you may explore the option of fashion or medical illustration.

If you’re a film or television buff, you could also find work as a storyboard artist or concept artist who translates creative vision onto paper.


Back in the day, photographers needed fancy equipment and darkrooms to make it as professionals. But now with a decent camera, editing software, and, of course, a good eye, you can make a solid living doing photography for individuals or families who want to hire you for any number of celebrations such as parties, weddings, and showers.

If you have an impressive portfolio in hand and a willingness to learn, you could land a job in an ad agency doing food and product photography.

Finally, a little further out on the fringe, there is the possibility of doing travel, nature, or wildlife photography for publications. These jobs are usually done on a freelance basis, but they’re great gigs if you can snag them.

Digital Artists

Most art, including writing, is now of the digital variety. But having the basic hands-on skills required to be a good artist can translate over to the digital arts. And this is where work can get pretty lucrative.

In the vein of photography, you may able to find work as a videographer producing videos for the above-mentioned parties and celebrations. You may also find work shooting commercials or even documentaries. You’ll need to gain familiarity with special equipment and editing software. But doing so doesn’t require a college degree.

Shifting back to working for a brand or an ad agency, you could land some work as a graphic designer creating visuals and using software to convey the intended messaging. You may also find website design an exciting option. Especially if you know anyone in the process of creating his or her website. Do good work for one person and word of mouth can get you more work down the line.


If writing is your primary focus, you’re not relegating to toiling your life away trying to write the next New York Times best-seller. While that’s a worthwhile endeavor, there are plenty of writing opportunities that will allow you to actually pay the bills.

Making money as a writer is more often than not a freelance situation.You can start establishing yourself by writing for a company that sells blog posts to companies. The pay is garbage, but it allows you to establish a portfolio.

You can also make money as a ghostwriter helping people who want to write a book but don’t have the skills to turn their idea into something readable. Finally, if you don’t mind abandoning the creative aspect and enjoy the left-brained dominance of technical or grant writing, there’s plenty of work to be found there.


While many companies designing products will seek out college graduates, if you’re a talented sculptor you could land a job as an assistant to one of these graduates and learn the trade from there. Automotive companies are a particular hotbed for this sort of work.

Or if you’re really thinking outside the box, maybe you carve out a niche as a specialist in sculpting something like, say, cakes. Perhaps start out as a cake decorator and then build your skill set. Who knows? Maybe you could even start your own bakery one day.

Performance Artists

If you’re a musician, actor, or dancer, you may have to step back from the idea of being in the spotlight at first and consider working behind the scenes. Become part of a film or camera crew. Do set design. Or you may explore the option of being a makeup artist, special effects artist, or even becoming a talent agent.

Dancers specifically can also explore the option of being a choreographer. Once again, you typically have to pay your dues before you can climb to this esteemed position. But doing the time doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to college. Stick with performing and working wherever and whenever you can and you’ll make a name for yourself.

Life Is Definitely Easier With a High School Degree

There are many arts jobs that require no college degree. But you need to go into the world with an open mind and willingness to network. You also need a high school degree.

Sure, college isn’t going to be right for everyone. A high school degree is essential though.

So if you’re a highly creative type and are finding that high school just isn’t cutting it for you, don’t give up. Contact us today. Our arts-integrated curriculum allows you to learn academics through art so you can get that high school diploma and then show the world what you’ve got!


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