Editorial Illustration Jobs: What Are My Career Options?

Combining artistic skill with knowledge of societal and cultural issues, editorial illustrators work for newspapers, magazines and other print publications and increasingly find work in digital media. Read on to see if a career in editorial illustration may be for you. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

An editorial illustrator is an artist who creates visual commentaries on current issues in society. These artists create either stand-alone art or work that accompanies pieces of writing. As an editorial illustrator, you'd communicate your feelings on issues through visual representations as well as conveying ideas with few or no words. Your work could be commissioned by a host of entities. You might work for magazines, newspapers, colleges and advertising companies, to name a few.

Those who commission the artists tend to do so based on the individual demands of the project or the article that the artwork would be accompanying. Your work might be humorous or satirical in nature, and you'd base your illustrations on contemporary political, religious, economic or scientific issues. To build your professional resume, you can market your work toward publishing companies, museums, non-profit groups and other agencies. You could work part-time or be self-employed as an illustrator.

Important Facts About This Field

Work Environment Typically full-time, often on your own schedule and/or under a deadline
Similar Occupations Fashion Designer, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Multimedia Artist/Animator
Professional Certification Offered through companies like Adobe
On-the-Job Training Internships are available through many universities

Necessary Skills

More and more often, illustrators are leaving pen and paper behind and turning to computer-based programs to create their art. Editorial illustrators typically are familiar with drawing and painting techniques and know how to use multimedia programs. You also need to have a strong creative voice and a knowledge of current events that can you can express in your work. Being able to interact well with others and provide good customer service is also important. Business skills are also needed to be able to market your work effectively.


An editorial illustrator commonly needs to hold at least a bachelor's degree, although some schools offer associate degree programs as well. Some aspiring editorial illustrators pursue Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts degree programs in illustration. You can also choose a more intensive degree program such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration or Master of Fine Arts in Illustration. The portfolio you'll create during your formal studies can be a factor in whether or not you're hired for a job. Courses dealing specifically with editorial illustration emphasize the creation of narrative visuals, and they challenge students to interpret written materials into image-based forms.

Other options for learning illustration include taking some art classes, practicing on your own and having private lessons with an experienced illustrator.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Computer illustrators can expect employment growth in the future, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). However, your prospects won't be as good if you specialize in print illustration. The BLS expects a 6% employment increase for all fine artists (includes painters, sculptors and illustrators) between 2016 and 2026, which is average. As a result, you will face competition when you look for illustrator jobs.

According to July 2019 salary data on PayScale.com, salaries for most illustrators ranged from $25,000 to $79,000 a year, with the median wage being $48,581. However, your salary may differ if you do contract work, are self-employed or only work part-time. Your experience is also a factor. For example, entry-level illustrators had a median salary of only $39,839 a year, according to PayScale.com in July 2019.

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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