When looking at career options, finding a profession that aligns with a person’s skills and personality is important. This is especially important for creative people. While not all individuals are creative in exactly the same way, they share common traits. Creative people are intuitive, curious, and innovative thinkers. They need independence to do their best work. A work environment that encourages risk-taking and rewards outside-the-box thinking is likely to foster success.
How can you find the ideal career for your creative skill set? The first step is to understand your own creative needs.
Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and innovation go hand in hand. Creativity is the act of conceiving something new. Innovation is the act of bringing a concept or product into existence.
Psychologists distinguish between different types of creativity. At the individual level, creativity involves insights and problem-solving that are significant only to ourselves. Professional creativity takes place at the career level, in which individuals use problem-solving as part of their jobs. At the highest level, creativity leads to world-changing art and technological innovation.
Misconceptions about the nature of creativity abound.
The ‘Aha’ Moment
The myth: Creative people wait for insight to strike.
The truth: The stroke of insight is the last part of a long process. It’s the result of study, thought, research, and experience. All these facets come together in the “aha” moment.
The myth: Creative people don’t have constraints.
The truth: Creativity flourishes under parameters. Experienced innovators know that having a set framework is essential to coming up with ideas that are insightful and functional. Additionally, many creative people construct their own frameworks, sticking to a schedule that lets them work at a regular pace and without interruption.
The myth: Creative thinking is innate; it can’t be learned.
The truth: While it’s true that creative people tend to be open to experience, persistent in the face of failure, and excited by new ideas, all types of people can work on fostering qualities that we associate with innate creativity.
Critical Thinking Vs. Creativity
The myth: Some careers, such as law or accounting, just aren’t creative.
The truth: Careers that emphasize critical thinking require professionals to work within a framework of underlying principles that takes time and experience to master. Nonetheless, critical-thinking professions can be satisfying careers for creative thinkers because operating with professional constraints can lead to exercising problem-solving skills in innovative ways.
5 Things That Creatives Should Look for When Evaluating Job Listings
Not all workplaces are the right fit for every creative person. A graphic designer who works best between the quiet hours of midnight and 4 a.m. will be miserable in a typical nine-to-five. Conversely, a marketing copywriter may thrive on lively brainstorming sessions with clients and colleagues under fluorescent lights and a lot of whiteboard action. Understanding your personality and needs when searching for a job is important.
In general, however, a creative environment fosters flexibility and supports the creative process. A company culture that sees failure as part of the iterative process can be inspiring for original thinkers.
1. Creative Products and Services Companies
Companies that create art and entertainment can present ideal career options for creative people. If you have a degree in graphic design, animation, film, communications, or fashion, then, of course, you want a career doing what you’ve been trained to do. Plus, you get to work with like-minded people who bring their talents and viewpoints to the team.
2. Outside-the-Box Culture
Companies that encourage innovative problem-solving are great workplaces for creative people. However, traditional organizations can have a culture of bureaucracy that tends to discourage truly innovative ideas. Even when forward-thinking executives want to change the company atmosphere, change may be slow or difficult. Look for companies that encourage connections between teams and an excitement about new ideas.
3. Flexible Work Environment
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many companies moved to remote work. This was a boon to creatives who do their best work when they can focus. As companies move back to in-person work, some are creating a hybrid environment, in which employees come to the office part time for collaboration but produce individual work at home.
4. Work and Play Opportunities
Companies such as Alphabet (Google’s parent company) recognize the importance of play to creative work. Google’s headquarters features a campus with various amenities: swimming pools, volleyball courts, and cafes. Creative people can look for companies that embrace the importance of play.
Many creative people prefer managers who trust them to get their work done without a lot of oversight. If you work best by being assigned a project, and then being allowed to run with it, look for job listings that ask for self-starters or those with critical thinking skills. Be aware, however, that these jobs may not be available for entry-level positions, which may require more supervision until you’ve proven yourself.
Top 5 Careers for Creative People
Creative people have quite a few career options, especially if you remember that all jobs can be creative. For artists and designers, however, some careers are naturally more attractive than others.
1. Digital Marketing Manager
A digital marketing manager promotes a company’s products and services on the internet. They not only balance traditional marketing versus digital marketing but also create internet marketing strategies and analyze results, including clicks, likes, and retweets. Their responsibilities include search engine optimization, email marketing, and website and social media strategy.
The median annual salary for marketing managers was $135,030 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Education in marketing, business, or a related field can help individuals aspire to the marketing manager profession.
2. Digital Media Artist
A higher education degree such as a bachelor’s degree in digital media opens doors to careers in graphic design, motion graphics, digital art, film, animation, and more. Digital media artists are part of creative teams that develop content and marketing for the web, for streaming services, and for movies and television. The field is exciting and can take professionals in many directions.
In 2021, the median annual salary for people in a graphic design career was $50,710, according to the BLS. Animators and special effects artists earned a median annual salary of $78,790 in 2021, according to the BLS.
3. Web Designer or Web Developer
Website designers and web developers collaborate closely. Web designers are responsible for designing the way websites look and how customers interact with them. This means including user experience in their design decisions. Web developers take these design parameters and write code for websites.
The median annual salary for web designers and web developers was $78,300 in 2021, according to the BLS. Individuals in this field may have backgrounds in digital media or software development.
The media field has changed over the past two decades, as newspapers have lost ground to online media companies. Those successful media companies have shifted to digital journalism, in which reporters record, film, and photograph their own stories, which are then pushed to readers and viewers via social media on phones and other devices.
5. Public Relations Manager
Many journalists pivot to a public relations career, as both occupations require excellent communication skills. Public relations management is the art of maintaining positive relationships between a company or an organization and the outside community. Public relations tools include press releases, press conferences, speeches, and social media.
The median annual salary for public relations managers was $125,780 in 2021, according to the BLS. Backgrounds in business, communications, and leadership are relevant to this profession.
Find the Creative Career That’s Right for You
Companies are hungry for creative, original thinkers. Whether you’re a visual artist, digital designer, or wordsmith, your skills are in high demand. If you’re looking for the right creative field to learn and specialize in, explore Maryville University’s online degree programs, and see where your curiosity will take you.