Art Management: The Business Side of the Arts

Art management is an interesting field that capitalizes on both a love of art and sound business instincts. Rather than focusing on the creation of art, a career in art management may leverage your knowledge of art while most of the day-to-day tasks focus on the business aspects of the art world. Online courses combine the arts and business to prepare you for a unique career. Art management may encompass buying and selling art, representing an artist as an agent, or managing artists in an advertising agency, software company or publishing house, among many other possibilities.

The art management field is rich with opportunity, and a degree is useful for positions in museums, software, advertising, or managing artist’s careers as a rep or agent. Most art management careers require some degree of specialization in a particular area or type of art such as sculpture or photography. Art management majors put this in-depth expertise to use in appraising works of art that are under consideration to be bought or sold, or in setting prices for a client’s work when acting as an agent.

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General Art Management Degree Information

In order to have the necessary skills for a successful career in Art Management, you will need a solid grounding in both the arts and in business. Many students who decide to pursue a career in Arts Management start out with an associates or bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and then add a higher-level degree in business administration.

If you are just starting your academic program, you may choose to major in business and declare a minor or take extra courses in the arts while pursuing a degree. There are degrees and certificates that target many areas of art, such as photography, illustration, painting or sculpture. Degree programs are available either online or on campus.

Don’t shortchange the business side of your education since most potential employers will want you to be very strong in the business aspects of your career. You will need a solid understanding of accounting, marketing and business law. Many schools offer certificates and associate degrees in business for students who already possess a degree in fine arts. You may choose to cap off your academic credentials by completing one of these programs.

Online Art Management Curriculum

A typical art management program will offer classes in advanced painting skills, illustration, graphic design, sculpture, drawing and other media. In addition, art management programs means taking courses in business essentials. These could include accounting, marketing, finance, organizational behavior, business law and management. Often, students will be exposed to both arts and business seminars designed to intensify the learning in each area. The practical workshops will allow the students to learn from working professionals in the arts and business arena. Many accredited colleges and universities offer online programs. Research all of the free information about online degrees, classes and programs on the internet.

Earning a degree online

There are many fully accredited schools and universities offering online degrees or certificates in Art Management. This is an excellent option if you already have an undergraduate degree and need to round out your education in either business basics or a particular art specialization such as photography or illustration.

Online education is a great choice if you have already started your career and want to branch out, or if you live very far away from schools offering the program you need. Before you commit to a program, just make sure that the school you are considering is accredited.


Whether you choose to earn your bachelor’s degree in business or in fine arts, consider this degree as the minimum qualification that employers will expect. You will want to be certain that you have a very solid foundation in business basics, since potential employers will be very interested in your knowledge in these areas. Plan to study at least accounting, marketing, management and business law if you decide to get your degree in the arts. There are many excellent schools, both on campus and online, with strong programs in business.


If you already have a degree in either business or arts, you may decide to add a Master’s degree. If your undergraduate degree is in the arts, you will want to tackle an MBA program for the business skills you need. In this curriculum you will study finance, economics, marketing, management, statistics and business law.

Further Education

If you decide you want to enter the field of art management, you can enroll in a certificate program. Certificates can be awarded to students who have already earned a degree. Usually, certificate programs include courses in both business and art.


Art management requires both business and art classes. You will need to take courses in accounting, finance, marketing, management, and contract or business law to have a strong grounding in the business aspects of the job. For the arts side, you will need to take art appreciation, art history, and several focused classes such as painting, photography or sculpture.

Often, students will be exposed to both arts and business seminars designed to intensify the learning in each area. The practical workshops will allow the students to learn from working professionals in the arts and business arena.

Career Opportunities

A career in art management requires you to use both sides of your personality—the creative side that loves and appreciates art, and the practical side that understands business and contracts. This diversity is one of the factors that make a career in art management so fulfilling.

For example, you may be able to pursue professions such as working in:

  • Museums
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Art Dealerships and Galleries
  • Auction Houses

You may find your career path lies in an art gallery, where you buy and sell art, or sell art on a commissioned basis. This role requires a keen eye for pricing and appraisal, as well as the ability to structure deals creatively. If your path leans more towards technical art like game development or corporate art as in advertising or publishing, you would need strong management skills to lead a team and the ability to manage projects. These are just a few examples of how a career in art management blends art and business skills.

Earning Potential

You may choose from several paths in art management careers. If managing an art gallery appeals to you, this is the ideal educational program. According to US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics salary surveys, salaries for art gallery employees range from a low of $20,000 to $100,00 and up in big cities or large galleries, while art directors at agencies earn a median salary of $95,000. If you choose to go into commercial game design, salaries can reach well over the $100,000 range after just a few years of experience. Average salaries for artist agents are in the area of $92,000. The entire art management field is growing at a rate of about 3% a year.

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Art Management FAQs

What are the prospects for a career in art management?

Art management is a very competitive field but there is frequent opportunity to move in new directions, since you are not restricted to any single career path. During your career you may move from running a gallery to representing a stable of artists as an independent agent, to running a photography studio. This educational credential let’s you carve out a career that suits your interests.

Will I need to live in a big city to be successful in this field?

In some cases, salaries will be higher in large cities, but opportunities are everywhere for people with this very versatile educational credential. You can find work at a local museum, join a software company to create the next big game craze, or travel the world to buy and sell art on commission. The median salary for all art management positions is over $50,000 and can go well beyond that in some specialties and locations.

Which is better - an online or on campus degree program?

Online degree programs allow you the flexibility to get your education at a time that’s convenient for you. While you are working and gaining experience, you can be continuing to earn academic credentials.

Campus programs provide more personal interaction and the chance to mingle with students who share your interests. Many campus programs allow part-time enrollment so you can structure your education into manageable chunks if you are trying to work while finishing your schooling.

Both online and campus degree programs are filled with motivated students like you, and taught by top-shelf instructors with real-world and academic experience. Prospective employers recognize the self-discipline and motivation that it takes to complete your education. These highly coveted traits are demonstrated by your ability to complete your education, whether you choose an online or on campus program.

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