Careers - The Open College of the Arts | Distance Learning Degrees and Courses


OCA Student Careers

The reasons for people coming to study at OCA are unique and individual, but one of the common ones is to learn for a career.

You could be launching your career, changing careers, or setting out on something new entirely. Whichever stage of the journey you’re at, the skills and knowledge you’ll gain from an OCA qualification will help you on the way to a creative career.

The Creative Economy in the UK is booming, reportedly growing by 53.1% in the years 2010-17, and supporting 3.12 million UK jobs in 2017 (source: Creative Industries Council). Over 2.1 million of those jobs are classified as creative occupations, with the rest supporting creative industries.

OCA degree courses will show you how to sustain your artistic practice post-graduation and into your chosen career path. Our tutors, as practicing artists themselves, can assist in guiding your progress and pass on useful advice on the best approach to make your passion into a career.

We’ve developed some brief guides on specific creative industries, some of the common creative jobs in those sectors, things you may want to think about for your career, and where to look for jobs.

Creative Writing

Flexibility is your buzzword, with a Creative Writing degree and the skills you’ll gain providing opportunities almost wherever you look. Publishing, communications, marketing, journalism are common career paths for creative writers, becoming copywriters, communications executives, marketing officers, you name it.

Traditional avenues have declined, with print media in journalism and book publishing being replaced by digital alternatives. There is also the option to self-publish, leading to lots of opportunities to start out on your own, self-employed. Through OCA’s Creative Writing degree, you will learn how to become a writer in your chosen area of specialism.

The National Careers Service have example job profiles in publishing and journalism, which can help get an understanding of the sector, and recruitment practices.

Apart from some of the main job recruitment sites like Reed or Milkround, there are some specialist sites for this sector:

Interior Design

OCA degrees in Interior Design aim to provide you with the skills necessary to forge a career as an interior designer. Many interior designers are self-employed or act as a consultant to a project. Others choose to work with firms of architects for example.

Whichever option is right for you, the British Institute of Interior Design has a professional pathway to support your development as a designer. As a student on an Interior Design degree you can also gain free student membership.

The National Careers Service have example job profiles for working as an interior designer, which can help get an understanding of the sector, and recruitment practices.

Specialist recruitment sites for interior design include:

Drawing, Painting, & Fine Art

Becoming a practicing artist, self-supporting, and exhibiting your works could be the dream. Getting there though requires practice and promotion to become established. You may choose to freelance and take on projects, or you could use your transferable skills to the workplace as a decorator, tutor, or exhibition organiser, all the while working to become an artist.

The National Careers Service have a full list of example profiles and advice across arts, crafts, and design, including specifics for Fine Artists.

Artquest and A-N have advice and guidance for visual artists, and regularly post networking and other opportunities that you could take advantage of. Prospects also have useful information on where you can take a degree in Fine Art.

The Arts Council post jobs and news stories on their site, Creative Choices have articles and case studies from practicing artists, and Resartists are a network of artistic residencies.

Graphic Design & Illustration

As a graphic designer or illustrator in the UK, you could hardly be better placed, with easy access to the world’s second largest design sector. The key attribute is creativity, although with the rise of digital applications, understanding of web skills and software is likely to be increasingly important.

The route to these fields is as you make it. To go freelance you’ll likely need experience and good references; you could build this up doing projects on the side, or you could work for a design agency.

The National Careers Service have useful guides and example profiles as both a Graphic Designer and Illustrator, giving you a helping hand in where to start.

Prospects have guides on potential career paths and what you can do with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration.

Specialist listings for jobs include:

Moving Image & Film

With the skills developed through Moving Image, you’ll be set to create independent film pieces. The film industry makes up a large part of the UK’s creative industry meaning there are lots of opportunities, but to take advantage of these experience and networks are needed. Animation and high-end effects are expected to become even more important, so an understanding of the principles and software used can only help.

Building up your portfolio is key; Creative England offer funding and other support to get you off the ground, and Bafta Guru is full of useful advice for aspiring filmmakers. ScreenSkills have loads help and support for filmmakers, animators, and tv enthusiasts, and they also have options to help you train.

Specialist job sites for Moving Image & Film include


Classical music composition opens many doors, from working with an orchestra on stage, to composing scores for tv and film. It’s common for musicians to combine a portfolio career with regular employment; use your ear to be a sound technician, or take on roles at a music production company to gain insights.

Prospects have guides on where your Music career can take you. The National Careers Service have a specific guide on routes as a classical musician. In order to get exposure and have your music heard, you could access BBC Introducing, and the Musicians Union have advice and networking opportunities. Mandy is a good site to join and create your own profile.


Becoming an established photographer takes time and practice, but with over 40,000 working in photo imaging in the UK there is opportunity and scope. Freelance is a common route, and to get there you could start out as a photographer’s assistant; Photoassist is a specialist site with advice, and job listings.

You could take your photography anywhere, nature, food, work with the police (with training), advertising, or weddings. Prospects has a guide on what you can do with a Photography degree. Creative Choices have case studies to show you what you could do.

As a student you can become a member of the Association of Photographers and the British Institute of Professional Photography. Both will help increase your exposure, grow your networks, and provide services to help you launch as a freelance photographer.

The British Journal of Photography host jobs on their site, as do the Arts Council.


Textiles graduates are well placed for a range of careers within the creative industries. The skills and knowledge acquired through a Textiles degree will equip you for a career in the fashion industry, which contributed £32bn to the UK economy in 2018. A textiles designer can also find career opportunities in the field of interior design and decoration, as well as within the retail sector.