Cartoon Artist: Education & Career Overview

Working as a cartoon artist requires no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Are you interested in the exciting and creative career field of cartoon artists? This article will provide you with more information about how to become a cartoon artist, what job duties typically include, salary information, and other career details.

Essential Information

Cartoon artists create 2-D or 3-D cartoon art for comic strips, advertisements, animated movies, video games and other media. These creations might be used to entertain people, sell products or make social commentary. Individuals with a natural flair for drawing using pen and paper, as well as computer programs, might excel at this career.

No formal education is needed to be a cartoon artist, though certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs in related fields are available to help students fine-tune their skills and develop a professional portfolio.

Required Education None mandatory; related undergraduate programs are available
Other Requirements Portfolio of work
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators*
Median Salary (2015) $46,460 for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Overview

As with most artists, cartoon artists have no formal educational requirements; however, they might benefit from completing a certificate or associate's degree program in illustration, art or a closely related field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that cartoon animation artists usually need to complete a 4-year degree program to master the high level of computer expertise required for their work. Many universities, art schools and technical colleges offer programs that teach the skills necessary for these careers.


Most programs that teach 2-D drawing skills offer courses such as drawing and design, caricature art and comic media. These courses teach students concepts like basic drawing skills and communicating ideas through illustration. Advanced courses in the field include children's book illustration and cartoon drawing.

Cartoon animation majors take classes like 3-D digital animation, computer graphics and game design. Students are taught to use elements such as light, shading and depth, in addition to principles in mechanics, to create these 3-D images. As aspiring cartoon animators advance, they might take more challenging courses that delve into using digital technology to elicit cartoon character movement and emotion. Students also receive instruction on storyboarding, special effects and character development.

Design Studios

Design studios offer cartoon artists the opportunity to be creative and explore various drawing and illustrating techniques. Work might be done by hand or on the computer using animation software. Students might use projects from these studios to build up a portfolio, which is critical in securing employment after graduation.


To gain work experience in cartooning and digital media, students might become interns for animation companies and other firms. Duties vary based on employer; however, interns might assist with a number of activities ranging from developing productions to drawing cartoons.

Career Overview

Cartoonists apply their drawing talents to pen comics, political cartoons, advertisements and more. They also might work in 3D animation, creating characters, scenery and backgrounds for animated television shows, movies and/or video games.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, fine artists, which includes cartoonists, could expect 3% job growth from 2014 to 2024. Competition should be fierce for available jobs, and many artists must supplement their income with other work. Fine artists made a median yearly salary of $46,460 as of May 2015.

While no formal education is required for a job as a cartoon artist, a college degree or courses will help prepare a job candidate with computer skills, knowledge of cartoon art history, and improved drawing skills. A portfolio of work is also important, and an internship can be helpful in gaining experience to make your application more competitive.

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