Drawing Careers

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in a drawing career. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary information. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Drawing Career Entail?

A drawing career allows you to use creativity to deliver messages through images, a service that is required in many different industries. Some possible professional opportunities in this field include working as an illustrator, sketch artist or cartoonist. An illustrator provides images to go along with a prewritten text or piece of media, such as illustrations created for books. Sketch artists create pencil portraits of people or objects, sometimes lending their talents to police services in order to create an image from composite descriptions. Cartoonists create static and moving images to go along with a story, such as animating characters for a children's cartoon. They need to have an excellent grasp of the technologies typically used in their field as well as strong artistic skills.

The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

Illustrators Sketch Artists Cartoonists
Education Required Associate's or bachelor's degree recommended (required for medical illustrators) Associate's or bachelor's degree recommended Associate's or bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Illustration, drawing, comic art Illustration, drawing, comic art Illustration, drawing or comic art
Key Responsibilities Draw illustrations for books, periodicals, merchandise Draw suspected criminals, actions in court proceedings Draw scenes for comic books, advertisements, newspapers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all multimedia artists and animators)* 2% (for all fine artists)* 2% (for all fine artists)*
Average Salary (2015) $70,300 (for all multimedia artists and animators)* $54,170 (for all fine artists)* $54,170 (for all fine artists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Some Drawing Careers?

As an illustrator, you could draw illustrations for books, periodicals, advertisements or merchandise, like calendars and greeting cards. You might also use a digital format to draw backgrounds for video games.

In addition to creative positions, you could work as a medical illustrator, depicting the human body, diseases, complicated technical content or medical procedures with accurate drawings or 3-dimensional simulations. Medical illustrations are seen in textbooks, periodicals, online, in courtrooms to simplify medical evidence and in audiovisual materials that are used for education.

As a sketch artist, you might work for police departments where you'd draw suspected criminals based on information provided by eyewitnesses. You could also attend court trials where cameras are banned and draw the court proceedings for media outlets. Sketch artists also draw landscapes or portraits for commercial and artistic purposes.

As a cartoonist, you could draw scenes that are humorous, tell stories or satirize politics and current events. Your creations could appear in comic strips, comic books, advertisements, newspapers, magazines or online.

Do I Need Any Education?

You don't need formal education to pursue a drawing career, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but schooling is highly recommended to develop the skills needed to earn a livelihood (www.bls.gov). You could earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts in Illustration, Drawing or Comic Art. Alternatively, you could attend an art school to study for an associate's or bachelor's degree or a certificate in your particular area of interest.

Your education should include training in computer graphics and teach you the software used in creating visual arts as well as cover manual drawing techniques. Many drawing careers use both computers and traditional hand drawing to create images, making a diverse education essential.

The BLS stated that you'll definitely need formal education to become a medical illustrator, however. The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) advised that a bachelor's degree in an art major with a biological sciences minor, or vice versa, is recommended (www.ami.org). This combination is typically required for admission to a master's degree program in medical illustration. The AMI reported that most medical illustrators earn master's degrees in medical illustration.

What Might I Earn?

The BLS reported that fine artists, a broad category that includes illustrators, cartoonists and sketch artists, earned a median yearly wage of $46,460 in 2015. The majority worked as independent artists, averaging $52,060 per year. Some of the higher-paying industries included software publishing, scientific research services, employment services and motion picture and video industries.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Art is a broad field that encompasses many different career paths, so there are plenty of options if the above careers are not a good fit for you. You could work in public art, creating and designing art to be displayed in the forms of murals and public art, intended for consumption in public spaces. Another option is to train to become a medical or scientific illustrator, combining your drawing skills with a knowledge of biology and other sciences to create realistic renderings of scientific procedures and human anatomy. These images are used for educational purposes and published in scientific magazines. Both of these professionals need to have studied an artistic field to the bachelor's degree level in order to find work.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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