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Design & Art Schools in Canada

By Publisher
| Last Updated February 13, 2023

Design and art schools can help you make a promising career out of your creative talents.

The focused programs you can find at these colleges place a lot of importance on helping imaginative individuals become professionals in vocations they enjoy. With your artistic abilities and enthusiasm, you'll have the chance to develop market-ready skills that pave the way to opportunities in fun industries. And that could mean crafting the kind of inspired life you have always visualized for yourself.

Why Are Design and Creative Arts Important to Canadians?

Creative industries are an increasingly important part of Canada's economy. According to Canada Council for the Arts, the nation's cultural sector was estimated to have generated $55.5 billion in 2020 alone—accounting for 2.7 percent of the country's real GDP. And new companies in this space keep appearing.

Taking a design or art program in college can help you get an edge on the competition and find opportunities to take advantage of the current push toward new tech. Just consider the proliferation of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), along with more of a push toward virtual everything since the pandemic started. From coast to coast, fresh opportunities are sprouting up for people with the right combinations of creative and technical skills.

10 Exciting Careers Design and Art Schools Can Prepare You For

Going to a creative arts or design school is an excellent way to boost your abilities while learning valuable new skills. So, what area of study is right for you?

Think about what you already enjoy. For example, maybe you're drawn to communicating ideas and messages visually. Perhaps you're fascinated by the styles people wear or how they arrange and decorate their living spaces. Or maybe you're a gamer, music lover, or film buff who wants to help create the next generation of interactive media and entertainment.

Creativity is what drives everything forward. Artists, inventors, and visionaries frequently challenge the status quo and enable progress to happen. Their work is essential to generating new ideas and innovations that keep Canada's culture and economy solid and dynamic. So, employers and clients of many different varieties are frequently looking for talented designers and other creative pros who possess the inventiveness and technical capabilities to make a transformative impact.

That's a big reason why education in art or design can be a powerful option to pursue. Creative individuals can use targeted training to become their very best. Design schools and programs are abundant in some top Canadian cities, meaning there are enticing opportunities for those in the creative community. Just consider these two examples:

  • Toronto—Canada's largest city has more designers (nearly 25,000) than any other municipality in the country. They represent a part of the workforce that has grown more quickly than counterparts in the rest of Ontario and Canada. As a result, art schools in Toronto continue to play a vital role in helping talented students become contributors to that ongoing success.
  • Vancouver—British Columbia's most famous city is another hotbed of creative and artistic talent. Opportunities are especially vibrant for skilled pros who want to go into the interactive and digital entertainment industry, which generates jobs for more than 40,000 people in the city alone. But Vancouver is also well-known for other industries like film and print media publishing. Plus, it's ranked the #1 VFX and animation hub in the world.

    So art schools in Vancouver frequently offer several different program options for aspiring designers and artists who want to work in these or other compelling industries. For example, LaSalle College Vancouver continues to be a popular choice due to benefits like the school's program variety, professional-level facilities, and convenient location close to many potential employers.

The main point is this: A lot of possibilities are likely to be generated for people wishing to go into design or the arts in Canada.

Ten of the most intriguing creative vocations are highlighted below. But several more worthwhile options exist, and there is often a lot of overlap. For instance, the whole media arts field is alive with growing opportunities for pros like animators, digital filmmakers, video game designers, web designers, and audio producers. And, of course, it's still possible to find your niche as a fine artist, musician, architect, or industrial designer.

*Unless otherwise specified, wage data is taken from the Government of Canada's Job Bank website.

1. Graphic Design

Think about the worlds of marketing, communications, advertising, and branding. They probably wouldn't exist without the talents of skilled graphic designers who specialize in creating visual solutions to the challenges faced by all types of organizations and entrepreneurs. And the same can often be said about graphic design contributions to areas like print publishing, Web media, and entertainment. Plus, Canadians in this vocation can earn a median salary of about $58K and up to $89K or more on the high end.

2. Interior Design

Almost everyone delights in living or working in indoor spaces specially customized to fit their tastes and functional needs. But, with few exceptions, nobody is better at making that happen than professional interior designers. Whether it's working with architects, restaurant owners, corporate executives, homebuilders, or any other type of client, they often get to enjoy giving life to new and creative interior environments. In Canada, their median annual earnings add up to $51K, with high earners in the field sometimes making more than $92K yearly.

3. Fashion Design

Style matters. It's part of our cultural currency. Even though apparel trends come and go, Canadians always want clothes and accessories that look good, fit their personality, and provide necessary functional benefits. So fashion designers get to do fun, creative, and important work. And many of them are highly successful at it, especially if they have their own lines of apparel. The median annual wage for fashion designers comes in at around $51K, and top earners in the field make $85K or more yearly.

4. Web Design

The online world would be much less appealing if we didn't have talented web designers. They don't just make websites attractive. They also make them functional and user-friendly. And, like traditional graphic designers, they also tend to earn good salaries, especially if they have solid coding and markup skills. In Canada, the median pay for web designers and developers equals about $62K per year. Top earners can make more than $104K.

5. Video Game Design

Your imagination can really take flight in this industry. Creating never-before-seen characters, immersive stories, and inventive gameplay is all part of the creative process of bringing new titles to the video game market, which is massive. Cloud gaming is an excellent example of where to expect more diversification and growth, as it's anticipated to grow by 27 percent annually between 2020 and 2026. The median salary for a designer in the field is about $63K with the top earners making $94K and up.

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6. Animation, Multimedia, and Visual Effects

Motion graphics are everywhere. They're used to bring stories to life and to enhance the overall impact of video games, films, and other forms of multimedia entertainment or communication. Canada's digital media industry alone is anticipated to reach over $11 billion in revenue by 2023. And that means many companies need skilled animators, multimedia, and special effects designers. Median wages come in at about $58K per year, and the high end of the spectrum pays $90K or more.

7. Audio Engineering and Recording Arts

Music is a cornerstone of our individual and shared cultural experiences. And sound is often an essential component in immersing us in stories presented through TV, film, or video games. That's why a career in Canada's recording arts industry can be so fulfilling. It lets you bring joy and delight to the senses of other people. Plus, you can earn a good living. For example, the median pay for a Canadian audio recording technician equals about $58K a year. And some people in that career earn a salary of more than $90K.

8. Computer-Aided Design and Drafting

Before buildings can be constructed, detailed visual plans must be prepared using CADD software. Blueprints and similar technical drawings link the ideas of engineers and architects and the physical work of skilled tradespeople. As a drafting technician in Canada, you could make a median salary of about $60K annually. And, with the right experience, you could become a top earner and make up to $86K per year or more.

9. Photography

Popular culture is very image-driven. A single photo can have the power to make a story or marketing campaign go viral. And some images say so much on their own that few, if any, words are needed to convey the ideas or feelings they've captured. Plus, professional photographs are still very much in demand by all kinds of people and organizations for both personal and business reasons. That means a talented and motivated Canadian photographer can build a successful career. Commercial photographers, especially, can earn a lot. The high end of earnings for photographers comes in at $83K or more per year, and median wages are about $42K.

10. Performing Arts

Toronto, Vancouver, and many other Canadian cities have thriving entertainment sectors. From theatrical stage productions to live comedy and music, they provide the backdrop to many different opportunities for performing artists. And the country's film industry adds even more possibilities, some of which pay enticing wages. For instance, Canada's highest-earning actors and comedians make $77K or more in a given year for the equivalent of full-time work. And median wages add up to about $39K per year for the occupational group including actors, comedians, and circus performers.