What Are Some Popular Entry Level Illustration Jobs?

Illustrators create images using digital software or traditional pen-and-pencil techniques for magazines, books and websites. If you have the talent or aspirations to become an illustrator, then keep reading to learn about some popular career options. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Illustration Jobs Defined

Illustrators create visual images that convey concepts taken from pieces of text. The text may come from a magazine article, book, children's publication, website or piece of promotional material. As an illustrator, your job is to make sure the images complement the written word.

A degree alone is not enough for you to land a job as an illustrator. What often matters most to employers is the strength of your portfolio. If you produce outstanding artwork, you should choose the best samples for your portfolio in order to secure employment. Still, enrolling in a certificate or degree program in illustration, animation, fine arts or media arts can help you improve your skills and beef up your portfolio of work. Completing an educational program can also help you decide what type of illustrator you'd like to be. Take a look below at some of the different industries you can get involved in.

Important Facts About This Field

Craft/Fine Artists Graphic Designers Art Directors
Median Salary (2018)* $48,960 $50,370 $92,780
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% growth 4% growth 5% growth
Similar Occupations Industrial Designer, Photographer Drafter, Desktop Publisher Multimedia Artist/Animator, Fashion Designer
Required Education Employers typically look for a bachelor's or master's degree, though associate's degrees and certificates are also available A bachelor's degree in graphic design A bachelor's degree in art or design, plus some additional professional experience

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Editorial Illustrator

Newspapers, magazines and websites need illustrations that relate to content being printed or posted. This requires you to be able to meet tight deadlines. As an editorial illustrator, you are expected to be knowledgeable in areas such as politics, pop culture, history and world events. It helps to be an avid reader, so you can increase your ability to visualize a writer's intent and translate that into an appropriate image. Graphic designers working for newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers earned a median annual salary of $43,450, as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Advertising Illustrator

In advertising illustration, you create artwork that reflects the idea of the product or service being promoted. Some entry-level positions can be found at large advertising agencies in major cities. However, you may start your career by joining the advertisement branch of a smaller agency. In some cases, you are able to support yourself through freelance work by having multiple clients in advertising illustration. Graphic designers employed in advertising, public relations and related services made $51,380 for a median annual salary, as of May 2018, per the BLS.

Digital Illustrator

If you're skilled at computer art, you may find that many companies are interested in utilizing your talents to set themselves apart from competitors. Many employers are looking for a fresh look in the digital age, so you might be able to find freelance work or a full-time career in digital illustration. If you're interested in designing art for video games or movies, this is the specialization for you. The BLS reported a median annual wage of $50,370 for graphic designers in general, as of May 2018.

Book Illustrator

Talented artists are always needed to create cover illustrations for paperbacks and dust jackets for hardbacks. You may start out your illustration career as a freelancer by designing covers for individual authors. By doing so, you might later catch the attention of major book publishers. Interior design and illustrations are also needed for novels, graphic novels, nonfiction books and textbooks. The graphic designers who worked in the industry of printing and related support activities earned $40,170 for a median annual salary, as of May 2018, per the BLS.

Medical Illustrator

This position generally requires that you have some experience in anatomy and physiology. By working with physicians and scientists, you take complicated information and create appropriate drawings that communicate those concepts as easily as possible. For example, you might draw and label human organs or you might create detailed drawings of cellular processes. This career overlaps some with book illustration, as you mainly create medical drawings for textbooks. The industry of specialized design services for graphic designers paid a median annual salary of $51,320, as of May 2018 according to the BLS.

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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