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Top 10 Visual Artist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for visual artists, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are important for visual artists in the job market because they provide a way to demonstrate professional qualifications. They can give employers and clients confidence that an artist has the skills and knowledge necessary to complete a project successfully. Certifications also help to distinguish one artist from another, helping to create a competitive edge in the job market. Additionally, certifications can open up opportunities for advancement, as employers may be more likely to hire or promote someone with certifications than someone without them. Finally, certifications are often required for certain types of jobs, such as those related to graphic design or animation.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Visual Artists and explains how they can help to enhance a visual artist's career.

What are Visual Artist Certifications?

Visual artist certification is a way to help artists gain recognition and credibility in the art world. This certification is typically offered by organizations that are dedicated to promoting the work of visual artists. The process of obtaining a visual artist certification typically involves submitting artwork for review, completing an application, and paying a fee. Once certified, the artist will receive a certificate or other proof of their credentials as a visual artist.

Having a visual artist certification can help artists in many ways. It can give them more credibility when trying to showcase their artwork to potential buyers or galleries. It may also provide access to networking opportunities with other professionals in the art world and offer additional resources for marketing and promotion. Additionally, having a certification can demonstrate an artist’s commitment to their craft and provide validation from an external source that they are serious about their work.

Pro Tip: When considering visual artist certification, make sure to research the different certifications available and find one that best meets your professional goals. Make sure to read the requirements carefully and check to see if there are any continuing education requirements or renewal fees associated with the certification.

Related: What does a Visual Artist do?

Top 10 Visual Artist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Visual Artists today.

1. Certified Professional Artist (CPA)

Certified Professional Artist (CPA) is a professional designation that recognizes an individual’s expertise in the visual arts. It is awarded by the American Society of Professional Artists (ASPA), a national organization dedicated to promoting and recognizing excellence in the visual arts. The CPA designation is designed to recognize those who have achieved a high level of proficiency in their art form, as well as demonstrate their commitment to professionalism and ethical standards.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain criteria set forth by ASPA. This includes having at least five years of professional experience, completing an approved training program or course of study, and passing an examination administered by ASPA. Additionally, applicants must provide evidence of their work experience and submit letters of recommendation from other professionals in the field.

The process for becoming certified typically takes about six months to complete. Applicants are required to pay a fee for the application and examination process which can range from $150-$200 depending on the type of certification sought after. Once certified, individuals may use the CPA designation on business cards, websites, portfolios, resumes, and other materials associated with their profession.

2. Certified Art Appraiser (CAA)

A Certified Art Appraiser (CAA) is a professional who has been trained to identify, research and value art objects. They are experts in the field of art appraisal, which involves assessing the quality, condition and market value of fine art and antiques. The CAA designation is granted by the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), an organization that sets standards for appraisers in North America.

It typically takes several years to become a Certified Art Appraiser. To qualify for certification, applicants must have at least two years of experience as an appraiser and pass a rigorous exam administered by ISA. Candidates must also complete continuing education courses every three years to maintain their certification.

To become a Certified Art Appraiser, you must first join the International Society of Appraisers (ISA). Membership fees vary depending on your profession and level of experience. Once you’ve joined ISA, you can register for the CAA exam. The cost for the exam is $500 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees.

Once you’ve passed the exam, you will be eligible to receive your CAA designation from ISA. You will need to pay an additional fee for this designation which varies depending on your membership status with ISA.

3. Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a professional degree program that focuses on the study and practice of fine arts, such as painting, sculpture, photography, and other visual media. It typically takes two to three years to complete an MFA program. Most programs require applicants to have a Bachelor’s degree in an art-related field or equivalent experience.

In order to get an MFA, students must complete coursework in studio art, art history, and critical theory. Additionally, they must complete a thesis project or exhibition. The cost of an MFA program varies depending on the school and the length of the program. Generally, tuition for a two-year MFA program can range from $20,000 to $60,000. Many schools also offer financial aid packages to help cover the costs of tuition and living expenses.

4. National Association of Professional Artists (NAPA) Certification

The National Association of Professional Artists (NAPA) is a non-profit organization that provides certification to professional artists. The NAPA Certification is designed to recognize the highest level of artistic achievement and professionalism in the visual arts. It is a voluntary certification program that recognizes artists who have demonstrated exceptional skill, dedication, and commitment to their craft.

In order to become certified, applicants must meet certain criteria such as having a minimum of five years of professional experience in the visual arts field, having a portfolio demonstrating their artistic ability, and submitting letters of recommendation from two or more established professionals in the art world. Additionally, applicants must pass an oral interview with a panel of professional artists and submit an application fee.

The process typically takes between four and six months to complete depending on the availability of the panel members and other factors. The application fee for NAPA Certification is $200 USD.

5. American Society of Portrait Artists (ASPA) Certification

The American Society of Portrait Artists (ASPA) Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes the highest levels of artistic achievement in the field of portraiture. The program is designed to recognize and reward those who have achieved a level of excellence in the practice of portrait painting.

The certification process can take up to two years, depending on the individual's level of experience and skill. In order to become certified, an artist must demonstrate their ability to create lifelike portraits through a series of tests and evaluations administered by ASPA-certified professionals. These tests include both written and practical components, such as drawing from life, creating a likeness from photographs, and submitting finished works for review.

In order to apply for ASPA Certification, an artist must first submit an application form along with a portfolio containing at least five original works created within the past three years. The cost for applying is $100 USD. Once accepted into the program, artists are required to attend workshops and seminars focused on topics such as composition, color theory, anatomy, and more. They must also complete additional assignments throughout the course of their studies in order to maintain their certification status.

Once all requirements have been met, applicants will be presented with an official certificate acknowledging their achievement as an ASPA-Certified Portrait Artist.

6. International Association of Art Critics (IAAC) Certification

The International Association of Art Critics (IAAC) is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the profession of art criticism and the critical discourse surrounding art. The IAAC offers certification to its members, which recognizes their knowledge and experience in the field of art criticism.

To obtain IAAC certification, applicants must have at least five years of experience in art criticism or related fields, as well as a demonstrated commitment to writing about art. Applicants must also submit a portfolio of their published work for review by the IAAC Certification Committee. This process typically takes three months to complete.

Once approved, applicants will receive an official IAAC Certificate of Professional Recognition, which is valid for five years and can be renewed upon request. The cost of certification varies depending on the applicant's country of residence; however, it generally ranges from $100 - $200 USD.

In addition to certification, the IAAC also provides its members with access to exclusive resources such as an online library and discounts on publications and events. It also serves as a platform for networking with other professionals in the field and engaging in dialogue about contemporary art issues.

7. Professional Photographers of America (PPA) Certification

The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) Certification is a voluntary program designed to recognize photographers who have achieved a high level of professional excellence. It is the highest honor in the photography industry and requires a commitment to ongoing education, experience, and ethical standards.

In order to become certified, applicants must complete an application process that includes submitting a portfolio of their work for review by PPA’s Certified Photographers Council. The application process can take up to six months or more depending on the complexity of the portfolio submitted.

Applicants must also demonstrate technical proficiency in lighting, posing, composition, and digital imaging as well as business acumen such as marketing and customer service skills. Applicants must also demonstrate knowledge of copyright law and ethics in order to be approved for certification.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on the type of certification sought but typically ranges from $200-$500 USD. This fee covers the cost of processing your application and portfolio review by PPA’s Certified Photographers Council.

8. National Sculpture Society (NSS) Certification

The National Sculpture Society (NSS) is a professional organization for sculptors and other individuals who are dedicated to the advancement of sculpture. NSS Certification is a program that recognizes excellence in sculpture and provides a way to distinguish an artist’s work from others.

To qualify for NSS Certification, an artist must have achieved a certain level of artistic excellence in their work as determined by a jury of peers. This includes demonstrating technical skill, creativity, originality, and overall quality of the artwork. The jury consists of professional sculptors who review the submitted artwork and make recommendations regarding certification.

It typically takes six months to one year to receive NSS Certification after submitting artwork for review. During this time, artists can expect feedback from the jury on how they can improve their work if necessary.

To get NSS Certification, artists must submit three pieces of artwork along with an application fee. The application fee varies depending on the type of membership chosen and ranges from $50 - $150 USD per year. Once accepted into the program, artists will receive an official certificate recognizing their achievement as well as access to exclusive resources and networking opportunities through the organization.

9. International Guild of Realism (IGOR) Certification

The International Guild of Realism (IGOR) is an organization that certifies the work of realist painters and sculptors. The certification is a mark of distinction and recognition for artists who have achieved a high level of skill in their craft.

To get certified, an artist must first submit five original works to the IGOR jury. These works must demonstrate a mastery of realistic techniques, including accuracy in depicting light, shadow, color, form, and texture. The jury will then review the submitted works and determine if they meet the standards required for certification.

The process takes approximately two months from submission to notification of acceptance or rejection. If accepted, the artist will receive an official IGOR certificate with their name on it.

The cost for certification is $100 USD per submission plus shipping costs for sending artwork to the jury.

10. American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) Certification

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of cultural heritage. AIC Certification is a voluntary program that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of competence in the field of conservation.

To become certified, an individual must demonstrate knowledge and experience in the areas of conservation history, ethics, materials science, preventive conservation, and technical treatments. The certification process includes an application review by peers in the field as well as a written examination.

The process typically takes 12-18 months from start to finish. To get started, applicants must submit an application package that includes transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a portfolio demonstrating their work. Applications are reviewed by AIC's Certification Committee which then makes recommendations for approval or denial. If approved, applicants will be invited to take the written exam which covers topics such as conservation history and theory, preventive conservation practices, materials science and characterization techniques, treatment methods and documentation standards.

The cost of certification varies depending on whether or not you are an AIC member. For non-members it costs $350 for the application fee plus $150 for each additional portfolio item submitted; members pay just $250 for the application fee plus $100 per additional item. Once certified there is an annual maintenance fee of $125 for members or $175 for non-members.

Do You Really Need a Visual Artist Certificate?

No, you do not need a Visual Artist Certificate to become a visual artist. There are many successful visual artists who have never had any formal training or certification in art. Although having the certificate may provide you with some credibility and open certain doors, it is not necessary for becoming an artist.

The most important thing for any aspiring visual artist is to spend time developing their skills and honing their craft. You should focus on learning how to draw, paint, sculpt, design, create digital art and whatever other techniques you want to use in your work. It’s also important to study the works of other artists that you admire so that you can learn from them.

You also need to be willing to invest in yourself by purchasing supplies and equipment as well as taking classes if needed. Additionally, networking with other artists and finding mentors who can help guide your career path can be invaluable. Having a strong portfolio will also help when it comes time to showcase your work and apply for jobs or commissions.

In short, having a Visual Artist Certificate is not essential for success in the field of art; however it may give you an edge when competing for certain positions or grants. Ultimately though, if you are passionate about creating art and dedicate yourself to learning the necessary skills then success is within reach regardless of whether or not you have a certificate.

Related: Visual Artist Resume Examples

FAQs About Visual Artist Certifications

1. What are the requirements for a Visual Artist Certification?

Answer: Generally, visual artist certifications require you to have at least two years of professional experience in the field and a portfolio of your work. You will also need to pass an exam or assessment to demonstrate your knowledge and skills related to the profession.

2. How do I apply for a Visual Artist Certification?

Answer: You can apply for a visual artist certification through various organizations such as The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and Graphic Artists Guild (GAG). You will need to fill out an application and submit it along with all required documents, such as your portfolio, references, and other proof of qualifications.

3. Is there any cost associated with obtaining a Visual Artist Certification?

Answer: Yes, there may be a cost associated with obtaining a visual artist certification depending on the organization or program you choose to pursue it through. Generally speaking, costs may range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars depending on the program or organization you pursue it through.

4. Are there any continuing education requirements once I obtain my Visual Artist Certification?

Answer: Yes, many organizations that offer visual artist certifications require their certified members to stay current in their field by completing certain types of continuing education credits each year. In some cases, these credits must be completed before you can renew your certification status with the organization or program.

5. How long does it take to become certified as a Visual Artist?

Answer: This depends on the organization or program you choose to pursue your certification through as well as how quickly you are able to complete all necessary requirements such as courses and exams that are part of the program’s curriculum. Generally speaking, most programs take between 6 months and 1 year from start to finish before awarding someone their certification status..