20 Careers in Painting (With Salaries and Primary Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 January 2023

Published 16 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Studying creative subjects such as painting and art can provide opportunities in several career options. Whether you become a fine artist or an innovative architect, there are numerous careers in painting to choose from. Learning about the careers available to design and create beautiful items may help you decide which is the right path for you. In this article, we list 20 careers in painting and explore the useful skills needed to work in this artistic sector.

Careers in painting

There are numerous careers in painting, art and design available. Here's a list of painting-related jobs to choose from:

1. Art associate

National average salary: $60,804 per year

Primary duties: An art associate's main role is to promote the on-board art programme, generate interest and awareness among guests and assist the art auctioneer and crew. They also conduct sales and set up gallery and auction displays. These professionals may work for art dealers and auction houses.

2. Tattoo artist

National average salary: $63,914 per year

Primary duties: A tattoo artist or tattooist applies permanent decorative art on another person's body. Individuals consider tattoos as art because they're creative, original and take a lot of time and effort. They may create their own designs or draw a pattern based on an image the client provided. Tattoo artists usually learn their craft through an internship with an experienced tattooist.

3. Illustrator

National average salary: $65,749 per year

Primary duties: Illustrators create images that correspond to a written word. They provide visual representations to match a character or storyline. To do so, they work closely with their clients and marketing team. They may specialise in a certain design medium, like drawing, digital illustration or photography.

Related: What Does an Illustrator Do and How Can You Become One?

4. Fashion designer

National average salary: $66,931 per year

Primary duties: Fashion designers come up with designs for clothing, footwear and accessories. They also choose patterns and fabrics and give instructions on how to create every piece. Fashion designers sketch by hand or use fashion design software.

Related: 20 Jobs in the Fashion Industry

5. Digital portrait artist

National average salary: $66,992 per year

Primary duties: Digital portrait artists use digital art software to create 2D portraits. They use painting and drawing techniques like digital brushes to create images and capture a person's likeness. Digital art requires just as much thought and effort as traditional art.

6. Art therapist

National average salary: $70,475 per year

Primary duties: Art therapists help improve a person's well-being through tools like painting and drawing. They help patients express their feelings through art. These professionals also plan and create individual treatment plans that incorporate art therapy to help patients meet their goals.

7. Graphic designer

National average salary: $71,697 per year

Primary duties: Graphic designers create visual concepts by hand or by using computer software to relay ideas to consumers. They develop visual ideas for advertisements, magazines, brochures and web pages, among others. These professionals also create logos and images to present a message or idea.

Related: Essential Certificates in Graphic Design for Career Growth

8. Web designer

National average salary: $72,681 per year

Primary duties: By combining text, images, graphics, videos and animations, web designers create websites. These professionals are responsible for designing the layout, visual appearance and usability of a website. They typically create new websites or just update an already existing web-page.

9. Art teacher

National average salary: $76,312 per year

Primary duties: Art teachers are professional artists that teach art skills to students. They educate their students about the history of art, creation of art and art theory. They also encourage students to explore their own artistic creativity and teach them the various techniques, such as stippling, sketching, layering and composition to necessary to create artistic and expressive pieces.

Related: How to Find Jobs in Art: A Step-by-Step Guide

10. Interior designer

National average salary: $78,508 per year

Primary duties: Interior designers create visually appealing spaces for their clients. They assess space requirements, decide on furniture placement, paint colour and combinations, source products and materials, determine costs and select decorative pieces. They develop plans that comply with building code, blueprints and inspection requirements. Interior designers are usually detail-oriented and artistic.

11. Animator

National average salary: $79,023 per year

Primary duties: An animator is responsible for creating a series of images known as frames to simulate movement when displayed rapidly and in sequence. Animators usually create images seen in films, commercials, TV series and video games, among others. These professionals usually use computer software to do their job.

12. Photographer

National average salary: $81,487 per year

Primary duties: Photographers take photos to record events and tell stories with their images. They take pictures of people, places, objects and events. Some photographers specialise in a certain type of photography, like portraits or landscapes. Others take photos to act as inspiration for their paintings.

13. Art gallery curator

National average salary: $84,933 per year

Primary duties: Art gallery curators usually organise exhibitions, build art collections and arrange for the restoration of artefacts. Their job also includes identifying and recording items, responding to enquiries and organising loans. A curator typically decides which works of art to display to the public.

14. Game designer

National average salary: $87,875 per year

Primary duties: These creative individuals come up with concepts and design computer or video games. Game designers create story-lines, characters, scenarios and game levels. These professionals may work with animators, game developers and producers.

15. Architect

National average salary: $92,569 per year

Primary duties: The role of an architect includes developing concepts for structures, turning them into plans and eventually overseeing the building process. They may design homes, office buildings and other structures. Architects are professionals in the art and science of building design.

16. Artist

National average salary: $93,595 per year

Primary Duties: An artistic personality type creates new things with their minds and hands. They're drawn to unique people, unusual sights, textures and sounds. These professionals love to work in free, unstructured environments where they can express their creativity and imagination.

17. Fine artist

National average salary: $93,743 per year

Primary duties: Fine art is the highest standard of artistic expression. A fine artist creates work that's aesthetically pleasing. They develop and generate artistic ideas and work on paintings, sculptures, installations and drawings to convey these ideas and emotions. These professionals work with a variety of mediums including clay, metal, wood, paper and usually specialise in a single fine art.

18. Art director

National average salary: $100,299 per year

Primary duties: Art directors usually supervise the work of other designers and artists that create visuals for television, cinema, live performances, advertisements or video games. They determine the overall style with which to present a message visually to the intended audience. They communicate their vision to artists for each assignment.

19. Make-up artist

National average salary: $110,679 per year

Primary duties: Make-up artists are beauty professionals that specialise in either general make-up or prosthetic design. Their main responsibility includes applying make-up to enhance facial aesthetics. They also design custom looks for clients and work with actors on production.

20. Design director

National average salary: $139,990 per year

Primary duties: Design directors develop design plans, oversee and guide the design team and projects and communicate with clients. They lead creative sessions to come up with ideas. These professionals also establish design strategies to meet a client's requirements and supervise the creative team to achieve the set goals. Design directors also come up with and innovative design methods.

Relevant skills for careers in painting

Here are some skills you may require if you opt for a career in painting:


Creativity is the ability to think about something in a new or unusual way, or the ability to use imagination to come up with fresh ideas. An artist can use creativity to come up with novel approaches to assignments. When a person is creative, they often see things from a different perspective.

Related: What Does a Visual Artist Do? (With Skills and Salary)


Many jobs in painting require good communication skills with clients. For example, digital artists may use great communication skills to establish relationships with others and ensure that they fully comprehend their clients' requests. Sending updates to their client as they work on a project and responding to comments are examples of this.

Time management

Because some artists work under tight deadlines, it's critical that they have great time-management skills. This enables them to stay on schedule and finish their tasks on time. Artists with these abilities can generally take on many clients at once, increasing their earning potential.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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