Career options for creative types

Career options for creative people and what they pay

Elizabeth Bromstein|

While a lot of jobs could arguably be creative jobs – lawyers, doctors, clerks and receptionists all might have to get creative sometimes – what we mean in this case is something that might be considered an art. Anything from hairstylist or makeup artist, to graphic artist, illustrator, writer, dancer, that sort of thing. These days creative jobs also encompass the technological sector, an area that’s covered by staffing agency, The Creative Group.

Toronto branch manager Alicia Brum tells me, “We work with any type of communication or messaging, whether that means a phone, computer screen, a poster, anything that is messaging to the end user. A lot of the roles under creative have a technology component.”

Where are the jobs in those areas right now?

“The best positions we’re seeing are in the area of web design and developers,” says Brum. “We’re seeing user experience, which we will continue to see across all platforms – that’s designers and developers. We’re seeing a lot in social media, which has been big and will continue. Another area is the SEO, SEM specialist, and content development.”

Who’s making the most money? Mostly those same people. “Some of our highest paid contractors right now are our web designers, developers, user experience specialists and information architects,” says Brum.

Want to know about other creative areas? The obvious thing here, is that if you’re at the very top of your game, you can make a heck of a lot of money. But, like, say, acting, there may be 100 famous millionaires out of 100,000 of actors, most of whom make very, very little. J.K. Rowling makes gobs as a writer, but most writers really have to struggle to pay the bills. I guess most people know they’re taking a gamble when they opt to pursue creative work.

Here’s what you’re likely to make in ten creative positions in Canada, according to the Workopolis salary calculator, powered by Payscale. The average person isn’t going to get rich doing these jobs, that’s for sure.

Makeup Artist: Makeup artists can spend their time prettying up brides and bridesmaids, or working on news or morning show anchors, television and movie gigs. Then there’s the more specialized special effects makeup. Regular gigs in TV are sweet if you can get them. The movies/FX can pay big time if you’re the best at what you do.

Average salary for a makeup artist: $39,520

Writer: There are all kinds of writers: TV writers, bloggers, book authors, ghost writers, poets, technical writers. It’s not hard to figure out that those whose work comes in iambic pentameter are generally at the lower end of the scale (on average). Tech writers are at the higher end, with an average salary of $56,843.

Average salary for a “writer”: $44,434

Web content producers earn an average of $65,000.

Photographer: Snapping advertising shots of fashion or food, capturing events, wildlife or travel for print or online media. Then there’s portrait photography, editorial photography and artistic photography. Photojournalism is a whole other ballgame, listed as one of the most stressful jobs of 2013 – and the pay is awful, so unless venturing into war zones is your passion, look elsewhere.

Average salary for a photographer: $46,538

Animator: Animation is a world of possibilities and animators can find careers in TV, film, web or gaming – working on everything from ads to video games to cartoons to movie special effects.

Average salary for an animator: $45,451

Courtroom Sketch artist: Maclean’s Magazine recently published their first annual “Who Earns What” issue in which they reveal that those people who quickly sketch the courtroom scenes that cannot be photographed legally earn an average of $30,000 a year.

Interior Designer: You can work independently or as part of a firm picking fabrics, paint, furniture and accessories for homes, restaurants, shops, hotels, offices, and pretty much any space that is inside a building.

Average salary for an interior designer: $39,898

Executive Chef: The world of food is extremely exciting right now, even if that whole bacon thing is really old and busted (we get it, you like bacon. Can we move on?). Being a chef is all about creating exciting concoctions like quinoa pilaf with suckling pig ragout and pepper date compote, or whatever.

Average salary for an executive chef: $55,687

Fashion Designer: Fashion designers aren’t just the folks who create ridiculous fabric items to decorate women who just threw up their lunch. You can create designs for regular people too. As long as we have to wear clothes, we will need people to design them

Average salary for a fashion designer: $41,659

Graphic Artist: Though graphics come in all kinds of forms like illustration, photography and silkscreening, most graphic artists work with computers these days. Graphic designers may create posters, album covers, ads, logos, brochures, book covers, and web graphics, among other things.

Average salary for a graphic artist: $41,442

Video Game Designer: I didn’t know much about this one, so, according to, “Game designers design gameplay, rules, interface, and controls… game designers are regularly in charge of design for characters, story, world settings, dialogue, puzzles, and levels depending on the type of game.” Required skills include writing, grammar, creative thinking, and organization.

Average salary for a video game designer: $59,895

Film/Video Editor: Video editors may work in movies, advertising and television shows. The job involves trimming the fat from shoots and putting together the shots to tell the story. The greatest are masters. The worst are teachers (I kid! I kid!).

Average salary for a film/video editor: $41,148

And what are you going to do with that fine arts degree? Well, if you can work your way up to being the head of a major art Gallery, you’re going to do alright. The Maclean’s salary issue also lists the salaries of the Director of the Art Gallery of Ontario ($281,000), the Vancouver Art Gallery director ($250,000-$299,999), and the director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts ($200,000-$249,999.)

Category: Job Search Strategies, Latest News & Advice, Student
  • Jill Patricia Lyons

    I might apply for a job as a fashion designer but I don’t think I have ever seen an opening for a fashion designer in Hamilton Ontario… so much for that idea…

  • Ange Clarke

    exactly why artists must keep a day job

  • Gabrielle

    You should look up the definition of “Interior Designer” from professional associations such as Interior Designers of Canada and ARIDO (Ontario). It’s much more than the interior decorating job description you
    wrote in this article. Similarly to other professions such as
    architecture and engineering, it also involves architectural and spacial
    design and sometimes project management, requires an extra 3 years of
    education (that is, if you even took the 1 year decorating course),
    internships/apprenticeships and a final exam to become accredited and
    registered with a professional association. In Ontario there is a law
    protecting the title of “Interior Designer”, therefore, anyone who
    doesn’t qualify or keep up with the professional development and
    standards and is not registered with the governing body (ARIDO), cannot
    call themselves an Interior Designer. You can get around that by calling yourself an “Interior Design Consultant”, which makes this already extremely competitive field, even more so.

  • Jay

    This article offers absolutely nothing, no help all. Just regurgitated information with some sparkly words, thanks for nothing!

  • A real writer

    Sadly, this article illustrates the problem.
    Everyone thinks they are a writer or a journalist — and they aren’t.
    There is no basis for the numbers in this article.
    I see no quotes, no references, no sources — just smoke.

    • Bill Murphy

      “…according to the Workopolis salary calculator, powered by Payscale. The average person isn’t going to get rich.”. This seems like a source to me. but it would be nice to get a cross reference.

  • Zee Munney

    There is a reason they came up with the term “Starving Artist”. There are a lot of self employed careers mentioned here. Anyway more useless drivel from Workopolis run by a company with their hands in everything and good at nothing. I’m unsubscribing as should everyone else.