I want a creative career – what are my options?

I want a creative career – what are my options?
Find out about careers where you can use your creativity, both in creative industries such as publishing or TV and in other professions.

If you fancy working in a sparky environment where fresh ideas are encouraged and rewarded, chances are you’re attracted to creative industries such as TV, publishing, advertising and music. However, you might also feel at home with other types of employer. Creativity can take many forms and is highly prized in many different industries and professions, as it leads to innovation and new ways of solving problems. So if you see yourself as a creative type, it’s well worth keeping an open mind about how you could use your talents at work.

Cash or creativity: do you have to choose?

Using your creativity doesn’t mean you’re doomed to poverty; starving in a garret for the sake of your art is strictly optional. However, your choice of career inevitably has implications for your future earning power and lifestyle. For example, would-be actors can expect to have some downtime between roles as their careers get under way, and unless they’re very lucky or independently wealthy, will almost certainly need to find a way to support themselves at these times.

If you’re attracted to an artistic or performance-based career, your income and working hours will typically be unpredictable and you’re likely to be self-employed. Alternatively, you may be able to find stable paid employment in another area and pursue your creative ambitions in your spare time. You might also be able to find paid work that enables you to use your creativity in other ways.

Are creative careers always insecure?

If you want the stability and security of paid permanent employment, this is more likely in some types of creative work than others. For example, permanent jobs are hard to come by for professional musicians, but are a much more realistic prospect for web designers or advertising copywriters, or for those who teach creative subjects. Generally speaking, if you find a creative role in a commercial area, you’re likely to be better paid.

The creative industries offer a huge range of jobs and career paths, with opportunities in big companies as well as smaller concerns and not-for-profit organisations. You could rise through the ranks at a multinational media company or put together a ‘portfolio’ career combining different types of employment such as part-time work, temporary contracts and self-employment. It can be hard to get started and the path to career progression may not be straightforward or predictable, but on the upside, careers in the creative industries can be flexible and varied as well as fulfilling.

What are the creative industries?

These are some career areas that are generally thought of as creative:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Architecture
  • Crafts
  • Design, including product, graphic and fashion design
  • Film, TV, video, radio and photography
  • Publishing
  • Museums, galleries and libraries
  • Music, performing and visual arts

Interested in a career in fashion design? Check out our tips for university interviews for fashion design degrees.

You can get a quick overview of career paths in magazine, newspaper and online journalism and film, TV and radio from our advice on job options in the media. Thinking about going to uni? Find out about internships and graduate careers in the media, journalism and publishing from our graduate careers site targetjobs.co.uk.

Our advice on getting into marketing as a school leaver or graduate is included in our business careers section. If you’re considering doing a degree, you can find out more about internships and graduate careers in marketing, advertising and PR from our graduate careers site targetjobs.co.uk.

Employment in the creative industries is typically less structured and formal than in other industries, but the high levels of competition for work can make it difficult for both school leavers and graduates to get a break. It’s important to build up your knowledge and skills through work experience or extracurricular activities, or both.

Need career inspiration? Browse job descriptions on targetjobs.co.uk.

Careers where you can use your creativity

If you’re interested in using your creativity in a different industry, you’ve got plenty of options. Careers in areas ranging from retail and business to engineering call for creativity along with other skills such as commercial awareness, teamwork and problem solving.

It will help you to focus your ideas about the career you want if you are aware of the full range of skills you have to offer. For example, do you combine creativity with strong communication and organisational skills? Are you technically minded and comfortable with numbers? Our advice on skills will help you assess your strengths.

In a career in retail, creativity is particularly important for visual merchandisers, who work out how to make produce look attractive in stores.

In a career in business, you’ll need to keep up to date with trends and use your creativity to adapt to change and come up with ways to make products more appealing.

In a career in engineering, you’ll use your creativity to come up with designs and solve technical problems, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the physical results of your hard work.

In a career in IT, you could use your creativity in a technical context. For example, you could become a web developer, responsible for designing the interfaces for new websites. Another type of IT job that requires a creative approach is software testing, which involves anticipating how an application or system might be used and the ways in which it might fail. 

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