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Do you get excited for tasks that require creativity and imagination? Have your hobbies always revolved around art, music, or theater? If so, chances are that many traditional career paths would bore you to tears, fill you with yawns, and make you bang your head against your desk.

Think about it. When people talk about their accountant getting creative, they’re often implying that they might be breaking or bending the rules. And second before the anesthesia kicks in for your surgery, no one wants to hear the surgeon yell to his team, “Let’s mix it up and try something different this time!”

But don’t worry, creative souls. There are well-paid jobs out there for you, too. 

Read on as I shine a light on some of the highest-paying jobs for creative types.


Today’s Highest-Paying Creative Jobs

high paying creative jobs cash

Despite what you often hear, creativity can indeed translate into some awfully fat paychecks.

The following jobs on this list are a great fit for imaginative people, and they offer substantial pay to boot. The mean annual wages for these professions all come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) May 2023 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (the most up-to-date data available). All of the wages are well above the mean annual wage for all occupations, which BLS May 2023 data puts at $65,470. 

I’ve also included the number of people currently employed in each position, as well as information related to getting and working in these roles.

10. Film and Video Editors

creative jobs film video editor
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $83,470
  • 2023 employment: 29,240

Film and video editors edit raw media footage. They’re expected to get images to the final production stage, often in collaboration with a director or producer. Some synchronize soundtracks to match the images (but note that this employment category excludes sound engineering technicians).

This is a highly visual job that requires an artistic touch, as well as some technological savvy and an ability to work well with other people.

In exchange for their expertise, these creatives earn a mean annual wage of $83,470, according to BLS data.

Film and video editors typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. It’s common for the degree to be in film, broadcasting, or a related field. If offered, it’s recommended to take courses in video-editing software or cinematography. While beginners should be familiar with multiple types of editing software, the majority end up specializing in one type. To show mastery of editing software, they may earn certifications, which are generally offered by software vendors. 

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9. Writers and Authors

freelance writing senior retiree
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $87,590
  • 2023 employment: 49,450

Writers and authors create content for a variety of media, such as books, blogs, advertisements, magazines, and movie or television scripts. To develop content, these professionals must pick interesting topics, research for authenticity, do the actual writing, and work with editors to polish the material. (Importantly, this excludes a number of similar jobs, including news analysts, reporters, and journalists; public relations specialists; and technical writers.)

Even seemingly dry content requires creativity. Writers and authors must help people develop visual images, understand characters’ motivations, and lead readers to feel desired emotions. But that hard work is well rewarded: The mean annual wage for these wordsmiths is $87,590, per BLS data.

While it might seem as if writing simply comes naturally to some people, it’s a skill that needs to be developed. For salaried positions, writers and authors are often expected to have a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or communications. Prior writing experience is also a must, whether from internships, blogging, working at high school or college newspapers, or other professional work.

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8. Music Directors and Composers

introvert jobs headphones home musician artist
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $87,840
  • 2023 employment: 10,770

Music directors and composers work with vocal or instrumental performers, such as bands, choirs, or orchestras. Music directors (aka conductors) select musical arrangements and lead performers during rehearsals, recording sessions, and performances. Composers create original music, rearrange existing music into different compositions, and work with musicians recording music. They also might write scores for television shows or movies, or even write commercial jingles.

Creativity and musical knowledge are essential for these roles, plus these professionals must excel at active listening and work well with others. 

According to BLS data, these occupations earn a mean annual wage of $87,840.

Depending on which of these positions you desire, your path might be a bit different. Typically, choir directors have a bachelor’s degree, commonly in education or fine arts and performing arts. Directors in public schools might need a teaching license or certification.

Employers generally prefer applicants for conductor or classical composer positions to have a master’s degree in conducting, music theory, or music composition. Composers who want to write popular music are judged more by their recording samples than their formal education. 


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7. Fashion Designers

creative jobs fashion designer
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $97,030
  • 2023 employment: 19,940

Your outfit, shoes, and any accessories, were all developed by fashion designers. These creatives stay up-to-date on the latest trends, create designs, choose fabrics, present their ideas in meetings and trade shows, and ultimately market their designs to retailers or consumers.

Fashion designers strive to predict the future of fashion, and the best among them are considered visionaries. If you’ve ever watched a runway show or seen photos from the Met Gala, it’s easy to see that fashion designers can be some of the most creative people around. And while you probably won’t be a Tom Ford or Giorgio Armani overnight, even the average pay—of $97,030, according to BLS data—isn’t shabby.

Usually, fashion designers hold a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising, or another fine arts or business field. During their education, fashion designers can develop a portfolio that highlights their skills and style. It’s common for fashion designers to get a foot in the fashion industry door through an internship or working as an assistant designer.

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6. Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Post-Secondary

creative jobs drama theater teacher
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $100,840
  • 2023 employment: 101,500

While all teaching requires a degree of creativity, this is particularly true for post-secondary art, drama, and music teachers. This profession, which covers teachers who work at colleges and universities, includes people who both primarily teach, as well as those who both teach and conduct research.

You cannot properly teach topics you are unfamiliar with, especially at a college level, so these professionals must be as creative as the subject matters they teach. Furthermore, teachers must skillfully figure out how to best introduce students to topics and keep them engaged. Their expertise is rewarded with a mean annual wage of more than $100,000, based on BLS data.

Any post-secondary teacher, regardless of the subject they teach, generally needs to have a Ph.D. or doctoral degree in their field. For those who want to teach at community colleges, a master’s degree may be sufficient. Some people acquire teaching experience working as a graduate teaching assistant.

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5. News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists

night owl jobs reporter microphone
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $101,430
  • 2023 employment: 45,020

News analysts, reporters, and journalists work for communications media, such as newspapers, magazines, social media outlets, radio, or television. These workers gather information and use it to write stories, commentary, or reviews.

At first thought, it might seem as if this occupation doesn’t require much creativity—after all, these workers are meant to stick to the facts. However, these professionals must figure out the most strategic questions to ask, tell a cohesive story, and piece together how certain events might tell a larger story.

These workers have a mean annual wage of $101,430, according to BLS data, though it should be pointed out that pay really runs the gamut here. Small-town reporters make considerably less, while major-city analysts and journalists can enjoy far better salaries.

Often, news analysts, reporters, and journalists need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or another related field. Many specialize in a specific type of journalism, such as broadcast or print. Additionally, employers prefer applicants who have journalism experience, whether that be from an internship or working on a school paper.

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4. Producers and Directors

creative jobs film producer director
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $107,170
  • 2023 employment: 154,470

Producers and directors are responsible for creative and business choices about productions such as movies, television shows, and stage performances. Producers focus on financial and business decisions including raising money and setting budgets. They hire the director and crew, and they sometimes have a say in the cast members. 

Directors focus more on creative decisions, such as choosing cast members and helping them bring their characters to life. In this job, you work closely with set designers, art directors, location scouts, costume designers, and editors to bring the production from concept to finished product.

These professionals need to be able to envision an ideal final result, then figure out how to get there. Every production is different and requires original thinking. And while you shouldn’t expect Steven Spielberg-sized paychecks at the onset, the mean annual wage for people who make it in the industry is an impressive $107,170, per BLS data.

Generally, producers and directors obtain a bachelor’s degree in cinema studies, film, theater, or a related field. Before reaching these roles, people usually work several years on set as actors, cinematographers, editors, theater managers, or other relevant roles. As a director or producer becomes more well known, they can land more high-profile projects.

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3. Web and Digital Interface Designers

night owl jobs coffee computer
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $108,820
  • 2023 employment: 111,060

Web and digital interface designers focus on the functionality and visual appeal of a website or digital user interface. They ensure everything is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Other duties may include analyzing web use metrics or creating graphics.

While this type of work involves a lot of technical knowledge, it also necessitates an artistic perspective. These professionals need to be able to confer with developers and management, and sometimes even users. But they also need to know how to adjust visuals to please stakeholders without compromising usability. 

Those who can balance this duality earn a mean annual wage of $108,820, based on BLS data.

Employer requirements can vary substantially for these roles. Some companies prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as digital design, graphic arts, or web design. Other employers don’t focus as much on formal education and instead care about past work experience or projects.


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2. Special Effects Artists and Animators

jobs for introverts special effects animator
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $109,630
  • 2023 employment: 29,940

Special effects artists and animators make special effects or animations for media such as movies, commercials, and computer games. Says the BLS: “Special effects artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows.” Some of these workers mainly use computer software, while others prefer to draw or paint by hand before translating their work into computer programs, and still others work in physical mediums where their work is never digitized.

It doesn’t get much more creative than this type of work. Special effects artists and animators need to use their imagination when creating characters and environments. They create feelings through colors, textures, and movements. And they can make a pretty penny doing it, earning a mean annual wage of nearly $110,000, per BLS data.

These professionals usually need a bachelor’s degree in animation, computer graphics, fine arts, or a related field. Some schools offer specialized degrees in topics such as game design or interactive media. Additionally, candidates should have a strong portfolio, which can be developed while earning a degree.

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1. Art Directors

fun jobs art director
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $125,920
  • 2023 employment: 51,200

Art directors manage the work of other artists and designers who create images for magazines, television, film, newspapers, product packaging, and more. These leaders are the ones ultimately responsible for the overall visual style and the message it sends to consumers. 

This is another career that lets people flex their creative muscles. Because it’s a high-level job, these workers don’t always get to directly create images. Instead, they’re responsible for a project’s overall style. They know, artistically, what works and what doesn’t, and ensure that the final product looks appealing.

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for this job is $125,920.

Typically, art directors have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, a design subject, or a related field. Some earn a master of fine arts. Additionally, the majority of art directors have at least five years of work experience in a relevant occupation, such as graphic design or photography.


Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper has been a professional writer since 2016 and has worked with WealthUp (formerly Young & the Invested) since 2019.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she was still immersed in words through previous roles as a library specialist and teacher. Her background in education helps her take complex topics and turn them into easy-to-understand text.

Hannah holds a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. When she isn’t writing, Hannah is usually found playing with her niece and nephew, traveling, or brewing more coffee.