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Sculptors create original 3-dimensional artworks in traditional media (for example, wood, clay, metal and stone) and non-traditional media (for example, light and virtual reality).

Also Known As

Artisan, Artist, Carver, Caster, Ceramicist, Metal Worker, Modeller, Potter, Smith, Wood Worker

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5136.2: Sculptors

2006 NOC-S

  • F036: Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists

2011 NOC

  • 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2016 NOC

  • 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2021 NOC

  • 53122: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2023 OaSIS

  • 53122.02: Sculptors
Updated May 20, 2021

The boundaries between categories in the visual arts are much less distinct today than they once were. Traditionally, sculptors have used materials that can be physically manipulated or shaped by processes such as:

  • Cutting, drilling, grinding, turning or sawing
  • Casting slurries or melted materials from moulds
  • Moulding by hand (called throwing when done on a spinning base, such as with pottery)
  • Carving (also called etching, inscribing or relief carving when done on surfaces)
  • Casting, spinning, rolling, drawing, pressing or blowing (for forming of heated glass)
  • Forging, or smithing (heating to make more pliable, then applying force to shape before it cools)
  • Gluing, cementing, plastering, laminating or other adhering techniques
  • Weaving, braiding, sewing, splicing or knitting
  • Welding, soldering or fusing
  • Chemical reactions (such as using resins or epoxies. Some reactions are initiated by applying heat, such as with firing ceramics or tempering steel)

Sculptors may work with traditional materials, such as stone, bronze, glass, concrete, wood, clay and plaster. Today, many sculptors use or incorporate materials and methods normally associated with other disciplines. For example, they may work in, and experiment with, photography, metals of all kinds, fired ceramics, electricity, video and digital media, sound, wax, ice, plastics, performance art, fibre, textiles and other materials. They may produce only one or a limited number of copies of each piece of work.

Some sculptors design their work entirely on a computer, using computer aided design (CAD) software, then fabricate their sculptures with digital tools. For example, they might use computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines, 3D printers or computer-controlled laser cutters. Others may create the design using software and then use conventional methods to produce the work.

Digital tools allow sculptors to:

  • Fabricate artworks that previously were impossible to create by conventional means
  • Produce accurate models for presentation
  • Work out design problems before creating the sculpture
  • Position the proposed work in the desired context before producing it
  • Produce digital animations of the work positioned on the site to give clients an idea of what the work will look like
  • Produce multiple copies accurately

Sculptures can range in size from a small coin to several hundred acres of “live art.” Today’s sculptors experiment in new and emerging areas using different materials, installation techniques and mixed-media applications. In some cases, sculptors enlist the help of engineers, programmers, mechanics and other technical experts.

Kinetic sculptures are ones that do not remain stationary; they move or change according to external forces applied, such as wind, sun, rain or temperature. They may also move due to winding up, dropping or moving a part to initiate mechanical reactions from the rest of the piece. Some modern sculptors strive to involve the audience in kinetic works. Instead of treating the viewer as a passive observer of a piece, some sculptures are meant to be touched, played with and can even change or react uniquely according to audience interactions with it.

Many sculptors study different techniques and experiment with materials and processes on an ongoing basis. They keep up to date with what is going on in the art world by reading and attending exhibitions at art galleries.

Working Conditions
Updated May 20, 2021
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

Sculptors’ working conditions vary with their media. They may use a variety of hand and power tools. Some materials and tools require attention to safety practices to prevent injury.

Studios may be clean and well ventilated, or they may have less-than-ideal working conditions. Flying particles, sharp tools, falling objects, fumes, heat and chemicals are common occupational hazards. Sculptors may work at home, wherever large pieces are situated or in studios located in artist-run centres or warehouses.

The work can be physically demanding. Lifting requirements vary depending on the medium.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing ideas to create artistic forms from metal, stone and other materials in order to express ideas, feelings and moods by shaping, carving and sculpting materials such as clay, ice, paper, stone, wood and metal


Interest in precision working to carve and shape materials to desired forms using hand and power tools, welding and metalworking equipment, and masonry tools


Interest in speaking with models when directing them to pose; and in using established techniques of sculpting and arranging objects for compositions

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 20, 2021

Sculptors need:

  • Artistic talent and creativity
  • Initiative, self-discipline and determination
  • Knowledge of various materials’ properties and their structural limitations
  • Self-promotion and marketing skills
  • Budgeting and time-management skills
  • An awareness of safety equipment and procedures, and how to handle chemicals and materials safely
  • The ability to translate their ideas into finished products
  • The ability to critique their own work
  • The ability to communicate their ideas on paper, to prepare proposals, and discuss their work with potential clients
  • The ability to deal with criticism

They should enjoy working independently and with others, finding innovative ways to present ideas, and using a methodical approach to tasks.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

There are no formal education requirements for sculptors. However, they need:

  • Some knowledge of art history, composition and contemporary art criticism
  • A portfolio of their best work (for example, a website with biographical information, digital images or videos of artwork and other relevant information)
  • Training in the safe use of materials, tools and equipment
  • Small business skills, such as marketing and financial management

Prospective sculptors should look for education programs that offer the best blend of technical and creative course materials for their particular interests and needs. Some galleries prefer to feature sculptors who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 20, 2021

Sculptors may receive commissions or fees paid in advance that allow them to buy materials and cover some living expenses while they finish a site-specific or major work. However, few sculptors can support themselves on their artwork alone. Many cover living costs and studio rent by:

  • Teaching recreational, secondary school or post-secondary courses, or offering workshops
  • Working in fabrication shops or foundries
  • Doing related work, such as mass production design or mould making

Private buyers or public works committees may commission sculptures, or sculptors may sell their work in retail markets, from their home studios or through agents. They also may display their art in:

  • Galleries and museums
  • Restaurants and clubs
  • Office buildings and public spaces
  • Parks, exhibit grounds and international expositions

Sculptors may market or promote their work through online digital media. Sometimes, filmmakers rent available ready-made sculptures.

Emerging sculptors can get a start by entering art competitions, art festivals or arranging their own shows in their homes or artist-run centres. Before approaching gallery owners, sculptors should do some research to identify galleries that have a style compatible with their own. Sculptors usually have 1 gallery representative per city.

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts purchase artworks and offer grants for promising sculptors to enable them to study and work for a few months or a year at a time.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists occupational group, 82.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 57 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 20, 2021

Some sculptors receive commissions or fees paid in advance that allow them to buy materials and cover some living expenses while they finish site-specific or major works.

Sculpture prices vary considerably depending on the sculptor’s reputation, size of the piece, materials used and availability of the sculptor’s work. Most galleries deduct a commission ranging from 50% to 70%.

A few well-established sculptors hire agents to handle marketing, bookkeeping and sales transactions. Agents may take a 20% to 40% commission.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 20, 2021

Alberta Foundation for the Arts website:

Alberta Society of Artists website:

Canada Council for the Arts website:

Sculptors’ Association of Alberta website:

Sculptors Society of Canada (SSC) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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