Cartoonist: Overview of Education Programs for Cartooning

Cartoonists require little formal education. Learn about the optional degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

A cartoonist expresses thoughts, ideas and opinions through art and drawings. Their work is often found in newspapers, magazines, websites and comic books. There are no formal education requirements for cartoonists, but a degree program in an art-related field could prove beneficial.

Required Education No mandatory educational requirements, but a bachelor's degree might be beneficial
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 6% for multimedia artists and animators, 4% for fine artists, including illustrators*
Median Annual Salary (May 2013) $64,470 for multimedia artists and animators, $42,610 for fine artists, including illustrators*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) links cartoonists to fine artists, including illustrators, painters and sculptors (www.bls.gov). The agency does not set out specific educational requirements for cartoonists, but notes that artists, including cartoonists, can benefit from degree programs in fine art and illustration. Bachelor's degree programs in comic or sequential art are available as well.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration

In this degree program, students focus on graphic design concepts, figure drawing and digital design. Students might choose courses specific to comic or humorous illustration. Often, they must choose a specific concentration, whether it be studio art or medical illustration. It's not unusual for students to take courses in drawing facial expressions and vector and raster imaging as well as multiple studio courses, where they will hone their drawing skills.

These programs also might include courses in art history and professional practice. Some programs focus on cartooning, although they're similar to general illustration programs, including courses in figure drawing, perspective and figure modeling. Required courses might include study of digital imaging technology.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art

These programs focus on studio art, where students use time in the studio to brush up on multi-dimensional drawing, concepts and theories. Students also learn how to develop an idea and how location can influence their drawing and artwork. Students can expect to take classes in art history and learn about the tools of professional practice, including presentations and websites.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, as of May 2013, multimedia artists and animators earned an annual median salary of $64,470, and fine artists, including illustrators, earned $42,610. The BLS projects a 6% increase in employment of multimedia artists and animators, and a 4% increase in employment for fine artists from 2012-2022. Both figures represent employment growth that is slower than the national average.

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