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Career Information for a Degree in Illustration or Drawing

Degree programs in illustration or drawing typically cover art history, digital art and drawing skills. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for illustration or drawing graduates.

Essential Information

Although a degree is not always a requirement for a career in drawing or illustration, these programs can provide useful skills. Many art academies and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in illustration, although drawing programs are often combined with another discipline, such as painting. Relevant associate and master's degree programs are also available. Students may learn about color theory, design and digital art as well as study the human body to learn figure and gesture drawing. Potential students may need to have a portfolio of work in order to gain entrance to a degree program.

Career Illustrator Multimedia Artist Sketch Artist
Education Requirements High school diploma Bachelor's degree High school diploma
Other Requirements Some training or education n/a Some training or education
Projected Job Growth (2012-22)* 4% (Fine artists) 6% 4% (Fine artists)
Median Salary (2013)* $42,610 (Fine artists) $64,470 $42,610 (Fine artists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Careers Options

Illustration and drawing are suitable majors for creative individuals with a passion and commitment to art. Those who have completed a degree program in illustration or drawing may find a variety of career options as illustrators, multimedia artists and animators or sketch artists.

Illustrators

Illustrators create drawings and advertisements for books, magazines, textiles, wrapping paper, stationery, greeting cards, calendars and many other media. Illustrators may also work in the medical field, although they may need additional education to be familiar with biology and human anatomy. Illustrators work with traditional tools as well as digital programs.

Employment opportunities for illustrators exist in publishing, advertising and related industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the median annual salary for all fine artists and illustrators was $42,610 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators continue to enjoy high demand for their services, especially in the fields of movie special effects, video games, advertising and computer design. Many animators and multimedia artists need to be familiar with computer programs in order to create realistic 3-D models and images. The BLS listed the median annual salary as $64,470 for these workers in May 2013.

Sketch Artists

Sketch artists use a variety of media, such as pencils, charcoal and pastels, to create drawings, and they often focus on human subjects. Many sketch artists are employed by court systems for drawing pictures of witnesses and other courtroom images. Some sketch artists use their skills to produce renderings of suspects for use by law enforcement.

Others sketch artists are employed by fashion designers to create drawings of proposed designs. Alternatively, some artists in this field make their livings as caricaturists or public sketch artists, setting up shop on the street or in other populated areas to draw portraits of customers.

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