2022 Guide: Online and In-Person Arts Certificates

Explore online and in-person arts certificate programs to find the best option for your career aspirations, whether you want to design, create, or perform artistic undertakings. You can even use an arts certificate program to work toward a new career opportunity or refine your skills in a current role. Use this Campus Explorer guide to learn more about average salaries in the industry, course options, and typical costs related to a certificate in art. 

What Are Arts Certificate Programs Online and In-Person?

Art Studies is a broad area of study, so a certificate program naturally includes many options. These programs don’t offer you an associate or bachelor’s degree, but they do provide professional training in a specific skill related to the arts. A certificate might not be part of the entry-level requirements for a role, but it can give you the skills, experience, and confidence you need to apply.

Now might be the time to see if a certificate could help you jump-start your art or design career. You can choose this program if you’re about to launch your own studio or apply for a position as a designer, or if you’re looking for ways to practice your craft. Consider an online or in-person arts program if you’re passionate about one of these areas of art and design:

  • Digital design
  • Cinematography
  • Game design
  • Photography
  • Musical performance
  • Fine arts
  • Animation

Every course offers intensive training and practice in your chosen specialization. An on-campus course gives you face-to-face time with a professor or experienced artist, but an online course is flexible and packed with resources.

The good news is that you can complete most art certificate programs in less than a year. Some only take a few months, particularly online options, while many on-campus courses take one to two semesters. Look for self-paced programs to match your study habits and complete your course when it’s most convenient for you.

You might even take inspiration from the latest design software or animation methods, stunning photography shows, or a fine arts studio experience. You don’t have to take years of general education courses or courses focused on subjects that don’t spark passion. Instead, you can take a certificate: a highly specialized course of study aimed at helping you succeed in your career as an artist.

Some programs are best suited for students already experienced in creating art or using design software. Others accept students of all abilities and experience levels to help them succeed at their own pace. Most certificate programs only require a high school diploma or GED, but be sure to review the entry requirements before applying to a program.

While a certificate isn’t required for more careers in the arts, some employers prefer that you’ve received professional training. A certificate in the arts is a far more focused, affordable alternative to a traditional two- or four-year degree.

The low cost and flexibility of a certificate program make it a popular alternative to a full degree program. With a certificate, you don’t need to pause your career or invest significantly to hone your artistic skills. Instead, this program helps you prepare for a mid-career adjustment or continue to develop your professional abilities as a creator.

How Much Does an Arts Certificate Program Cost?

Certificate costs vary considerably between online and in-person programs. An online program typically costs between $1,000 and $10,000, while an on-campus certificate program can cost $20,000 or more. These costs often include living expenses, art materials, and other campus fees.

Look for need-based and performance-based scholarships in the arts as you consider applying for a program. You may find many financial aid opportunities for students who need assistance, including from nonprofit organizations that provide funding for students showing promise in their chosen art.

The material costs also differ from one course to another. For example, digital design certificate students may need to invest in software, while fine arts students should expect to purchase ample supplies for their chosen medium. Some tuition fees for on-campus programs include these costs, but online programs are likely to have them as additional expenses.

Average Salary for an Arts Certificate Program

To find the average salary, you should determine the art and design occupation you wish to pursue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the 2020 median annual wage for all art and design occupations was about $49,600. This is slightly more than the median annual wage for all occupations across the nation.

If you wish to pursue a career as an art director, you could join a vocation with a median pay of around $97,300, according to BLS. Graphic designers earned a median pay of approximately $53,400 in 2020, and the median pay for special effects artists was around $77,700.

Curators, archivists, and museum workers could also improve their career opportunities with an arts certificate. These workers receive a 2020 median pay of about $52,100.

A certificate program may help you hone your skills and improve your application, but it isn’t always enough for most entry-level education requirements. Art directors typically need a master’s degree in a related field, while most graphic design positions require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

You may wish to pursue a certificate in addition to your bachelor’s or master’s degree. A certificate helps you focus on a set of skills and practices in your desired art or design area. It’s also a great way to refresh what you learned during a degree program or change your art specialization as a mid-career move.

What Is the Job Outlook for Arts Certificate Holders?

According to BLS, art and design occupations are expected to decline by 4% between 2019 and 2029. However, special effects artists and animators are expected to grow by approximately 4% in the same 10-year period. Museum worker occupations may grow by 10%.

If you’re already working in the industry, you may find that a certificate program can improve your application and help you stay competitive. These programs can also help you transition from one art and design occupation to another.

Courses in Arts Certificate Programs Online and In-Person

The skills and knowledge you receive from an arts certificate program will vary depending on your chosen field and location of study. For example, an online program may offer more interactive coursework and flexible methods of study, but an in-person course may have more hands-on opportunities with trained artists and professors.

Both online and in-person programs combine hands-on learning with relevant theories. Lectures, studio time, practice assignments, and other teaching methods help you practice your craft and build your confidence.

Expect courses focused on your chosen area of study. Game design, graphic design, fine art, photography, or other areas of art are all available for study online or in a campus setting. Certificate programs don’t focus exclusively on practicing your craft, so you can expect to learn about the history, theory, and famous examples in your industry.

Are you passionate about many areas of art? You don’t have to choose a specialization. Unlike a certificate in game design or photography, a certificate in arts covers creative thinking, art history, education techniques, and a range of art media.

FAQs on Arts Certificate Programs

What jobs require an arts certificate?

Some employers may require professional training like a certificate program, but most jobs don’t require certification in the arts. One advantage of receiving a certificate is that it demonstrates your abilities in your field.

Does an arts certificate offer good job prospects?

Curators, museum workers, and special effects artists all expect job growth between 2019 and 2029. Other art and design careers may not offer the same level of expected growth, but they’re very rewarding opportunities for anyone passionate about the arts.

What are the different fields of arts certificate programs?

Consider a certificate in digital design, game design, web design, photography, cinematography, fine art, or another specialization in the industry. Most certificate programs focus on a single field, but you can also choose a certificate in arts for a more varied curriculum.

How long does it take to get an arts certificate?

Most on-campus and online programs can be completed in a year or less. Some programs are as short as a few months. Self-paced online options allow you to enjoy a flexible timeline as you work toward your certificate.

What does an arts certificate program curriculum typically include?

Most certificate programs include hands-on training and practice in your chosen medium, from fine art to web design. You can also expect to learn about the history and theories of your art.

Summary Information

  • Popular concentrations include animation, web design, and game design
  • Programs typically take one year or less
  • Can be completed completely online
  • Online programs offer a flexible pace

  • Offers rewarding opportunities as an artist or designer
  • Prepares students for a wide variety of art-related careers
  • Offers flexible, hands-on training opportunities
  • Delivers targeted instruction and practice in your chosen medium

  • Programs can cost as little as $1,000
  • Costs vary between online and in-person programs
  • A number of scholarships and grants are associated with this program
  • Certificate programs cost significantly less than associate or bachelor’s degree programs

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