23 jobs to consider for a career change in 2023

Whether you have visions to go out on your own, lead the next festival or be the creative behind the scenes, Arts professionals offer their insights.

Over the past year many of us changed the way we work, from the ‘great resignation’ to rethinking hybrid models and portfolio careers as freelancers at home. For others, the shuffling of deckchairs also meant that aspirations could be met on the career ladder.

Perhaps 2023 is the year for change for you? Here are some career options you may entertain.

Behind the scenes

We are not all geared to take the helm of an organisation or be on the front line, on the main stage or chasing the constant sell as a freelancer. Here are some jobs better suited to careers that contribute solidly to the end product, from behind the scenes.

Lighting Designer
To work well as a lighting designer you need to be able to pick up on the emotional cues of the work you’re watching, says Richard Vabre.

Set Designer
If you’re collaborative, highly organised and can balance both technical and creative skills, a career in stage design may be for you, says Ailsa Paterson.

Studio Assistant
Balancing her own practice as a painter, Mirra Whale is a studio assistant to Ben Quilty. She describes her job as being an ‘an extra set of hands, skills and labour that allows an artist to accomplish their works’.

Museum Preparator
Do you have a strong stomach and keen love for natural history? With 30 years’ experience at the Melbourne Museum, Dean Smith’s daily work could range from defleshing washed up whales to recording taxidermy data for researchers in his role as a Museum Preparator.  

Art Installer
Mona’s Collection and Exhibition Preparator Andrew Hawley shares how he shifted from hospitality into the arts and why he finds cat mummies soothing. ’In a nutshell, I prepare artwork and other culturally significant material for storage, exhibition and loan, and assist with exhibition/display installation,’ he explains.

Being a scribe is an intense but rewarding experience that requires trust and a synergy of process, says Deborah Vanderwerp, adding, ‘In essence I write down what someone else has dictated to me.’

Making a difference

The arts give much to community and audiences, from solely entertainment to aspects of well-being. While many of us are in the job of creating those products or managing venues and organisations that deliver, for others the desire to drill deeper into the social justice and care aspect of the arts is appealing as a career.

Clown Doctor
Sabrina Chan D’Angelo has been a clown doctor for almost 10 years, and is one of approximately 70 currently working in hospitals around Australia. She offers her insights into a performing arts career that requires a nuanced set of acting and communication skills to succeed.

Disability Art Centre, CEO
If you believe that art should be accessible to all, have a sense of humour and are a great communicator, working with artists with disabilities may just see your stars align. Studio A CEO and Artistic Director, Gabrielle Mordy says her job includes everything from curation to delivering presentations to corporate supporters.

Aboriginal Art Centre Manager
Working remotely on Country has its challenges, but also its rewards. Bryce Hartnett of Keringke Arts reveals the requirements and responsibilities of being an Aboriginal Art Centre Manager.

Sculpture Festival Access Manager
What’s it like to wear Meghan Kennedy’s shoes, as the Education, Access and Inclusion Program Manager for Sculpture by the Sea, an annual festival that takes art outdoors?

Read: How long should you stay in a job?

Specialist careers

The arts are full of them – specialist careers – from paper conservators to glass gaffers. If you have a passion for something in particular, then you are likely to find a way to nurture it within the arts.

Film and TV composer
Accomplished Australian composer Nigel Westlake says this role requires you to ‘check your ego’ and shares his tips and tricks for getting into the screen music industry.

Literary agent
Loving books is mandatory, but being a literary agent necessitates many different avenues of advocating for authors. With her own company and over 25 years’ experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry, Alex Adsett shares her advice.

Art Adviser
Between lots of phone calls, gallery visits and research, listening is key to being an art adviser, says Anna Waldmann.

Freelance dancer and choreographer Eliza Cooper explores the multifaceted aspects of her profession and reveals the excitement of interdisciplinary practices.

With a new ambitious show coming up that pushes the preconceptions of juggling, Byron Hutton unveils what it takes and how the internet is aiding the profession.

Audio Book Producer
How do you get to read and translate other people’s words into audiobooks? Veteran producer Sarah Bacallar reveals her career path.

Ceramic Artist
From love at first touch to building a full-time career as a ceramic artist, Vipoo Srivilasa shares the passion that led him to where he is today.

Freelance flexibility

Do you struggle with working under others and prefer to manage your own day, career drive, expectations… and bank balance? Then here are a few freelance and gig careers that may be your dream path.

TV and Film Extra
If you don’t mind waiting around a lot, being an extra on-set can be an interesting experience. As a freelance writer working on his first book, Richard Castles needs to somehow make money, so he is a casual film and television extra. 

Performance Photographer
More than just clicking the shutter, Pia Johnson shares how performance photography captures the magic of a live show.

Freelance Arts Writer and Editor
Doug Wallen is a freelance writer and editor, who is ‘lucky to write about things I enjoy’. He says, ‘There’s a lot of juggling, but each day is built around deadlines. I research, conduct and transcribe interviews; I write reviews; I organise and promote gigs; I source songs for radio; and I do a lot of varied copywriting.’

Cruise Entertainer
As cruising returns, entertainer Neven Connelly explains some of the opportunities that exist for this unique travelling gig.

Leadership dreams

When you have no conception of a glass ceiling or a ladder to climb, and your blue sky dreaming is grounded in reality and ambition – then you are destined to be leading our sector. Here are a few careers that take the helm.

Fringe Festival Director
Starting out as a country girl with big dreams and a passion for acting, CEO and Festival Director of Sydney Fringe, Kerri Glasscock, discusses the skills required to helm NSW’s largest independent arts festival.

Library Manager
While online material has changed what librarians do, their specific knowledge and skillset can certainly never be replaced, says Hayley Webster, Library Manager of Museums Victoria. She says the role is suited to someone who has broad experience, ideally in a special library context, and someone who is adaptable, as the role requires quick responses to changing organisational requirements and priorities.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina