How to Become An Art Dealer

Art Dealers are responsible for buying and selling works of art through auction houses, galleries and private businesses. They are highly knowledgeable and well-connected professionals who specialize in sourcing, collecting, and trading art pieces of different kinds including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, photographic works, etc.

Art dealers also seek out the most promising artists around the country to either buy their work for reselling or giving them exposure through exhibitions. Moreover, they commission artists to create specific pieces of art which are then displayed at a gallery/show/exhibition. If this is something that interests you, then this piece is worth a read. Go through it to find out how to become an Art Dealer and what steps you need to take to enter the industry.

Should I Become an Art Dealer?

Art Dealers have an innate passion for the craft which is quite evident in their dealings and the exhibitions/shows that they put up. If this is something that resonates with you, then you should consider becoming an Art Dealer. Apart from buying and selling valuable pieces of art, they also promote emerging talent in the field and sign up artists looking for a platform to market their work.


Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate Degree

Major Requirement

Fine Arts; Art History

License / Certification




Key Skills

Time Management, Active Listening, Complex Problem Solving, Speaking, Judgment and Decision Making, Oral Expression, Oral Comprehension, Creative and Critical Thinking, Communication, Sales and Marketing, Customer Service, Graphics and Photo Imaging Software, Editing and Video Creation Software.                           

Annual Mean Wage (2019)

$109,600 (Art Directors)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

1% (Art Directors)

9% (Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers)

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Art Dealers

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for Art Directors will increase slightly (1%) from 2018 to 2028. On the other hand, jobs for Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers are projected to increase by 9% for the same period.

Art dealers primarily work with businesses that sell unique artwork, antique pieces, promote artists and organize exhibitions. With the economy expected to slow down in the coming years, the job outlook for art dealers might be affected. This is because rare and exquisite art pieces tend to be expensive and a sluggish economy will lead to lesser demand from the big businesses in the field.

Steps to Become an Art Dealer

To become an Art Dealer in the United States, follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Most aspiring art dealers start off by getting a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, art history or a related subject. Pursuing higher education (a Master’s or PhD degree) is also more common compared to other fields. However, an undergraduate degree is a good stepping stone in many cases.

Art history coursework usually explores art forms from various regions and time periods. You should also go for courses that will help you understand the marketing and financial aspects of art dealing. Majoring in fine arts is another option that will enable you to work as an artist and an art dealer if you so desire.

Step 2: Select a Specialization

Most art dealers specialize in one or a couple of art forms like sculpting or painting. They may also choose to work from a designated period in art history. There are many galleries and commercial auction houses that only showcase and/or sell pieces belonging to particular mediums or time periods. By being a specialized art dealer, you can create a unique place for yourself in the field. 

Step 3: Find Entry-Level Employment in the Field

Once you are done with the degree and specialization, you can seek entry-level employment in museums, art galleries and auction houses. This is where you will hone your craft by learning on the job and gaining experience.      

Step 4: Build Your Professional Network

Getting to know the right people in the field is a vital success ingredient for art dealers. So, you must network with prominent artists and collectors, meet new professionals through social events and expand your circle by working in more than one gallery, museum or auction house. With trusted connections, you will be able to ensure buying and selling of art works for the right value.

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