Compared to, say, working in an office doing constant number crunching or as a factory worker doing monotonous, mind-numbing work regularly, the pursuit of art as a job seems to increase overall satisfaction. Studies have shown a link between overall happiness and the profession you choose. Numerous studies show that persons who work in more artistic and creative disciplines, such as writing, teaching music, editing, and interior design, often perceive themselves as happier than those who work in other professions.
Important studies also look at happiness from a financial standpoint. The saying “money can’t buy happiness” isn’t always accurate. While finding genuine love may still be important, living comfortably might assist reduce the frequently overwhelming amounts of financial stress that come with a lifetime of bill-paying.
Careers in the Arts and Happiness
When thinking of well-known creatives, the words “happy” and “artist” might not seem to go together. For instance, many famous authors struggled with alcoholism or despair. While Sylvia Plath committed suicide, Emily Dickinson and J.D. Salinger are said to have rarely left their houses. Naturally, Vincent van Gogh also amputated his ear. Typically, happy people don’t act in this way. The cliché of the “artist as tortured soul” is well-known, although research shows it to be untrue.
In truth, research shows that while not all artists are content, the majority are. In actuality, those who are creative are probably more stable psychologically than those who are not. Data from the British Household Panel, the Swiss Household Panel, and the European Value Survey were extensively evaluated as part of a study conducted by academics at the University of Zurich in Germany, directed by Bruno Frey.
In these polls, respondents were asked to identify their employment before rating their pleasure with each one on a straightforward scale ranging from 1 (“not pleased”) to 10 (“very happy”). Those who are creative or artistic often evaluate their overall job satisfaction higher than those who work in more routine professions. The average satisfaction rating for creative jobs in the Zurich study increased between 7.32 and 7.67, whereas the average for non-artistic jobs decreased to 7.06. Later research by Frey at the University of Warwick found similar results: The standard for creatives increased to 7.7, while non-creative job satisfaction decreased to 7.3.
No matter the method the researchers used to analyze the data, this discrepancy in work satisfaction remained constant. The group examined the findings while considering all relevant factors, including income, gender, the number of hours worked each week, age, and personality qualities. In every industry, creatives were ranked as more fulfilled.
Research from Vanderbilt University
With their survey, the Curb Center for the Arts, Entertainment, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, which included 13,000 recent graduates from various disciplines linked to the arts, confirmed this research. Most polled individuals said they were “extremely happy” with their chosen careers. The autonomy they gained from being self-employed, the flexibility in their work schedules, and the love they felt for their daily creative endeavors were among the many aspects identified by many respondents as the main reasons for their job happiness.
These results raise the question of why people in the arts occasionally commit suicide, experience despair, or become alcoholics. While Frey and his co-authors contend that creative people are often happy overall, they also argue that they frequently lack the security of a steady job. Their enjoyment may vary considerably depending on how much work they have or how much the public appreciates their job. They seem to have more “highs” and fewer “lows” than those in other professions. To support the notion, more study is necessary for this area.
Money and Contentment
The relationship between money and professional contentment has also been studied. These studies examined the link between the ideal wage and job satisfaction to generalize the happiness/income connection. Researchers questioned when the money stops being able to “purchase” more happiness. According to the surveys, the ideal yearly wage appears to be around $75,000.
In a Gallup poll study conducted between 2008 and 2009, economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University examined the earnings and self-reported job satisfaction of 450,000 American workers. The researchers considered how annual income relates to everyday contentment and total life satisfaction.
The findings showed that work satisfaction and everyday happiness levels rose when annual income reached the $75,000 mark. However, at that yearly level, employment satisfaction seemed to plateau. Making $100,000 a year did not significantly improve people’s perceptions of happiness, and most people at that level were no more satisfied with their daily lives than those making $75,000 a year. However, most still reported feeling somewhat happy at that level. Those who received more money frequently reported being more satisfied with their life overall, although the improvement in happiness daily was minimal. Simply put, they had the money to acquire more.
However, the survey did not take location into account. The key number, $75,000, might be a little lower in states where the cost of living was on the lower end of the national average. In other areas, like New York City, a salary of $75,000 is not considered very high, and satisfaction levels may not plateau until an income of $85,000 or above. However, ordinary Americans typically reach their maximum daily happiness with a salary of $75,000 per year.
Making It All Work: Careers in the Arts, Money, and Happiness
If persons with artistic or creative employment are happier on average and those who earn $75,000 a year are even happier, it stands to reason that these folks are the content. The phrase “starving artist” unfortunately originates in the fact that many people who pursue artistic vocations have chosen freedom and creativity above great earnings and steady work. Their yearly income may not even be close to hitting the magic threshold, and many may suffer for years while cutting back and saving to cover their basic living expenditures.
However, certain professions provide you the flexibility to exercise your creativity, set your hours, and earn a living wage. The top 10 artistic disciplines that make at least $75,000 are listed below. If you work in one of these fields, you have probably attained some satisfaction in your life—at least in terms of your job and income.
Directors of art
Many industries employ art directors, including publishing, fashion, theatre, and film. The video game business also uses art directors. A creative director in charge of the overall project typically supervises an art director’s work. Art directors must work in their chosen business for several years to earn a higher income, and they are occasionally regarded as upper-level management positions. The average yearly salary for an art director was $89,820 in 2016, and the top 10% earned more than $166,400. The greatest median annual pay was obtained by those working in the motion picture and video industries ($112,140), comfortably above the target salary range of $75,000.
Directors and Producers
Producers and directors work in various industries, including television, cinema, theatre, video games, and the internet. There are many types of producers, such as executive and line producers. Their responsibilities include overseeing the music editing process, managing the day-to-day production operations, and generating money. Online producers manage the creation of material for websites and social media, whereas theatre producers manage the staging of a play. It is the responsibility of directors to guide the actors through each scene. While the producer oversees the whole project, they have greater direct control over the stage. Although professionals can find employment practically anywhere in this industry, producers and directors who work in cinema and television typically reside in L.A. or New York.
Producers and directors took home a mean $70,950 yearly pay in 2016, and the top 10% of earners made more than $189,870 annually. The typical annual compensation for producers and directors in the advertising and public relations sectors was $93,450, significantly over the $75,000 mark for optimal happiness and more than enough to ensure contentment.
television news analysts
Broadcast news analysts are also writers and work in creative fields. News organizations frequently contact those working in other professions or freelancers to create stories. For instance, when a radio or television station needs to run a major story on a medical discovery or illness, the producers may hire a medical analyst to examine the data and write a report for their audience of non-medical viewers. Broadcast news analysts are faced with the difficulty of distilling complex material into straightforward, understandable tales.
With a mean annual income of around $78,200 for full-time analysts in 2016, this job is in the salary range that is most conducive to happiness. The top 10% of analysts with experience and talent may make up to $163,490 a year.
Teachers of Music, Drama, and Art in Universities
While working in the arts or the performing arts may not always come with a consistent paycheck or benefits, university teaching does. This kind of job gives significant benefits if you enjoy teamwork. Teachers in visual arts, theatre, and music have the chance to support students who are just starting their artistic careers. However, there is a compromise: Although you will have a steady job and fair compensation, you will still need to attend faculty meetings and make grades.
The mean annual wage for teachers working in college, university, and professional schools was $82,380 in 2016. However, the pay for these teaching professions might vary substantially depending on the university and its location. The top 10% of teachers in their field made more than 140,070.
Becoming a fashion designer might be a fulfilling career choice if you enjoy dressing up. Clothing brands need designers; you can even launch your clothing line if you have a business-savvy partner or sense of initiative. Fashion designers first draw out their ideas before making prototypes or working closely with a sewist. Most fashion designers reside and work in major fashion hubs like New York, France, or Italy. However, they can live anywhere they want by sending their designs and shipping finished prototype clothes.
The average yearly salary for a fashion designer was $76,320 in 2016, and the top 10 percent of earners received more than $130,050 each. Naturally, pay in this field vary greatly based on the employer, expertise, and reputation a designer has built. Most successful fashion designers who work for themselves report making much more money than the top designers who work for companies on a salaried basis.
Interactive designers and animators
A career in multimedia art or animation, which frequently involves working for television or film studios, may interest art majors. Animators may obtain a position at Disney or another renowned animation studio. In addition to working in cinema and television, animators and multimedia artists also work in online marketing firms and software development for video games. While animators either hand-draw their graphics or use computer software to produce animations, multimedia artists blend images, videos, energy, and other sorts of media to create distinctive visual displays.
The average income for those in this field in 2016 was $65,300, whereas the top 10% of multimedia artists and animators demanded a salary of $115,960.