Top 10 Degrees for Creative People

It is the best of times and the worst of times for creative people. We are seeing the slow decline of print media, which means that many traditional careers involving advertising and graphic design are hard to come by. But in response, many creatives have moved toward forms of multimedia design that work in virtual environments or emerging industry positions that require a knack for thinking outside the box. While many traditional creative outlets are evaporating, we are discovering that people with a creative bent are helpful in ways many industries or institutions had never considered. The following are ten degree programs for people interested in building a career out of their creative bent:

1. Architect

The Creative Urge:

Architects are most directly responsible for the way our living and work environments look, which we know has a great deal to do with our quality of life. We could even extend this career track to landscape design, but the traditional architect works with engineers and contractors to make buildings that are both useful and pleasing to the eye. This career has long been a first choice for people that want to balance creativity with financial success.

The Degree Program:

Go get started on a degree in Architectural Design or Architectural Technology at a school with National Architectural Accreditation Board certification.

2. Art Director/Graphic Design

The Creative Urge:

Though print media is in decline, it is by no means dead. Art Directors are responsible for managing the concepts that lead to advertising and layout in print. Larger online venues will also staff Art Directors to maintain the visual integrity of web pages and create traffic-generating advertising products.

Featured Programs
1. American InterContinental University - BFA - Graphic design
2. The Art Institute Online - BS - Graphic Design
3. Rasmussen College - Digital Design and Animation Bachelor's Degree

As the role of the Art Director expands to cover an increasingly wider range of media, the position often requires more technical and creative savvy than it used to. The days of Mad Men have given way to creative people with intimate knowledge of keyboard shortcuts and software package features.

The Degree Program:

This career is a good application of a Bachelor of Fine Arts, but degrees in Multimedia Design, Graphic Design, or Art Administration are better choices these days.

3. Environmental Engineering

The Creative Urge:

Environmental Engineers create and model architectural or industrial systems, which requires more than just the ability to navigate complicated math problems. Industries and architects look to Environmental Engineers to think outside the box when designing more sustainable work and living spaces. If you are the rare hybrid that can juggle the difficult math and creative problem solving that characterizes this career, then Environmental Engineering may provide a unique opportunity to satisfy your creative instincts.

The Degree Program:

Environmental Engineering programs are fairly standard by now and the marketable resume will feature some graduate education.

4. Game Design

The Creative Urge:

Gaming is a large and growing industry. It is large enough that they can recruit and hire some of the top talent from Art Design and IT programs, who then spend their careers designing, programming, and marketing games and apps. It is complicated, demanding work, but there are many out there that would really enjoy being part of the next Doom or Warcraft installment.

Featured Programs
1. DeVry University - Bachelor's in Game and Simulation Programming
2. Rasmussen College - Game and Simulation Programming Bachelor's Degree
3. Southern New Hampshire University - MS Information Technology - Game Design and Development

Game design is currently the most visible intersection of the creative and software industries, as it uses cutting edge technology to make immersive narrative and imagery come to life.

The Degree Program:

There are a variety of access points to this industry. Computer Science, Multimedia Design, and Fine Arts degrees have been standard resume builders for people interested in game design. Though Game Design degrees exist, they are still new enough that the traditional programming or design degree is a better choice for the time being.

5. Instructional Design

The Creative Urge:

The instructional and curriculum design industry is still young enough that it looks like a blend of Higher Education Administration and IT Administration from the outside. But in reality, there is a lot of creativity involved with designing educational programs and materials, which makes this career a very good option for an administratively-minded person with a knack for graphic design.

Featured Programs
1. Capella University - MS - Instructional Design for Online Learning
2. Post University - Master of Education - Instructional Design and Technology
3. Walden University - MS - Instructional Design and Technology - General

The Degree Program:

Now that Instructional Design degrees are more established, they are becoming standard in the field. A general Computer Science or Adult Education degree with a little programming experience will not take you as far as it used to.

6. Multimedia Design/Animation

The Creative Urge:

Multimedia Design has applications in almost every industry, as it can be useful in everything from Instructional Design to Film or TV production. This career is distinct from the typical art design or IT degree because it specializes in the use of hardware and software that require time and experience to master.

Featured Programs
1. American InterContinental University - AABA - Visual Communication
2. DeVry University - Bachelor's in Multimedia Design and Development
3. The Art Institute Online - BS - Media Arts and Animation

The Degree Program:

Multimedia Design programs are common in IT or Computer Science departments, and many schools offer Animation or even 3-D Animation as a specific major.

7. Occupational Therapy

The Creative Urge:

Occupational Therapy is a discipline that is growing to encompass a wide range of activities like art, dance, and theater. While each of these activities is worthwhile in their own context, Occupational Therapists are trained in making them part of the physical or psychological development of children and adults. This is a very fine career track for someone that wants to use their creativity to make a direct difference in the lives of other people.

The Degree Program:

Occupational Therapy requires a graduate degree in the field, and there are numerous specialties that cater to specific creative outlets.

8. Literature and Arts Education

The Creative Urge:

This career track is a standard option for people that want to spend a lifetime sharing their creativity and insight with others. While primary, secondary, and higher education are a bit crowded with people that have degrees in this field, that is no reason not to enter a program and work on making yourself stand out from the crowd in anticipation of landing that first job.

The Degree Program:

A graduate degree is becoming standard for many teaching positions, and a terminal degree is required in most higher education settings. Often, one can work on a primary or secondary graduate degree while working full-time in a classroom.

9. Urban Planning

The Creative Urge:

Urban Planning is not simply a brand of Civil Engineering. This emerging industry blends Environmental Engineering, Architecture, and Sociology in the creation of urban environments with better standards of living and utility. Every time you enjoy your three block walk to an urban farmer’s market, an Urban Planner was probably responsible for that. The creative component of this job involves the ability to envision and model spaces or structures that are only theoretical until translated into blueprints. Like Environmental Engineering above, this is a good example of an emerging industry that only really works with truly creative people on board.

The Degree Program:

A graduate degree in Urban Planning is becoming the typical entry point to this industry.

10. Web Design

The Creative Urge:

This remains a standard option for people that want to directly blend their creative talents with an ability to handle complicated computer programming. We are moving beyond CSS into more complicated design languages and platforms, but this simply means that the Web Designer can do increasingly interesting things with the right training.

Featured Programs
1. American InterContinental University - BFA - Web Design
2. Rasmussen College - Multimedia Technologies Associates - Web Design
3. The Art Institute Online - BS - Web Design and Interactive Media

The Degree Program:

A degree in Multimedia Design or Web Design is the right place to start looking.