Creative Careers That Don’t Require Traditional Art Skills

by Heather Nelson

Creative careers abound—and you don’t necessarily need traditional art or music skills to thrive in arts-related fields. In successful creative industries, a wide-ranging team of professionals with diverse experience and strengths work together to meet their goals and bring art, in its many forms, to the public.

Museums require researchers, teachers, and marketers to ensure their installations and programs can reach the most people. Musicians need managers, publicists, and accountants (plus many more) to successfully put their music into the world. And in the digital age, arts-related industries need a strong online presence. Professionals in web development are vital to bringing the artist’s perspective to life online.

Choosing a degree that prepares you to bring your strengths to creative industries can equip you for pursuing creative careers.

Modern Art History

Working as an art historian is a perfect example of a career field within the arts that does not require individuals to be artists.

“Art history is a great fit for individuals with strong research, writing, and analytical skills who are curious about history, art, and culture,” said Angela S. George, Ph.D., an assistant professor and program director of the Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism program at Azusa Pacific University.

George described art history students as readers, researchers, writers, and overall lovers of learning about history and culture. “These students have strong research, writing, and analytical skills, and they are motivated by curiosity to learn about and to make sense of artworks and artifacts,” she said.

Art history students also enjoy communicating their passion for art and visual culture to others through writing, teaching, lecturing, creating exhibitions, developing public programs, and more to carve out successful creative careers in art history.

Most art history jobs, whether in museums, art nonprofits, or educational institutions, require a master’s degree at minimum, and George recommended getting as much professional experience in your chosen field as possible. This includes internships or other paid experiences as well as making professional contacts.

“Professional contacts matter a great deal, and a graduate degree in art history coupled with previous experience is the best pathway to getting a professional job in the art world,” George advised.

Music Entrepreneurship

A graduate degree in music entrepreneurship offers a pathway to working in the music industry without necessarily having a musical background.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), about two million people work in the music industry. Career paths for people who are looking to work in the music industry include being a recording engineer, publicist, accountant, lawyer, manager, agent, designer, music publisher, and other professionals who assist an artist in their career growth.

“Today’s artists have more control over their image and music than they did 10 years ago,” said Henry Alonzo, MBA, an assistant professor and program director of Music Entrepreneurial Studies at APU. “A key factor of that is having a group of entrepreneurial-minded people who can help them.”

Successful artists have a team of professionals around them to help move their careers forward. This makes music entrepreneurship more relevant than ever as artists predominantly function as their own companies.

“To thrive in today’s music industry, you need a sustained passion for what you do by maintaining determination and grit and surrounding yourself with other driven professionals,” Alonzo said. “These are qualities that I see in every successful music entrepreneur.”

UX Design

User experience (UX) design is the process of creating software and web-based products with meaningful user experiences. The goal is to improve the user’s satisfaction by making the products easier to use and more helpful—an asset to any creative industry.

UX designers can find careers in many industries. APU offers a robust M.A. in User Experience Design that helps students develop a skill set that thrives on collaboration and creative projects, making UX design an easy fit for anyone looking for a creative career.

You can explore myriad pathways to fulfilling creative work. A bend toward writing and history, business or public relations savvy, and STEM fields like web development can open doors to industries in the creative arts. These skill sets are desirable assets in creative industries.

Are you ready to pursue a degree that can set you on the path toward an arts-related field? Explore degrees at APU such as Modern Art History, Music Entrepreneurship, and UX Design, and then take the next step toward a creative career by applying today.