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Comic Cartoonist: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Comic cartoonists draw comic strips and cartoons that have a humorous bent; many have created pop culture icons such as The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse. Read further to find out how to enter this artistic field and to find out the benefits you might expect.

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Career Definition for a Comic Cartoonist

Comic cartoonists provide the art used in comic strips, comic books and cartoons, most of which have a humorous slant. Many comic cartoonists use pencil, pen and other tools to draw their work; however, many now routinely use computer-assisted drawing programs. While many work as freelancers, some work for large media companies, which produce and publish comics and related materials.

Education Bachelor of Fine Arts in Comic Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation
Job Skills Computer skills, natural ability in drawing and design, ability to tell a story, and an affinity for art
Median Salary (May 2017)* $49,520 (fine artists including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 7% (fine artists including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Prospective comic cartoonists may want to attend a college or university that specializes in art; degrees of interest include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Comic Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation. Students interested in a career as a comic cartoonist will want to take classes in the basics of drawing, design, animation, art history, literature, creative writing, computer science, media studies and public speaking. Many of these classes require studio work, which allows students a chance to develop their skills and a portfolio of their work that is needed for job interviews.

Skills Required

An affinity for art is the main skill needed for any comic cartoonist; in particular, one must have a natural ability in drawing and design. Comic cartoonists must also have an ability to tell a story; while many work with writers, some work as individuals in order to tell their own tales. A background in computers is also becoming more of a necessity for comic cartoonists, since most graphic art can now be done using a host of programs and applications.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 28,000 jobs existed for fine artists, which include illustrators and comic cartoonists, in 2016 (www.bls.gov). The BLS estimates an average 7% job growth in this field from 2016 to 2026. As of May 2017, the median annual wage for fine artists was $49,520.

Alternate Career Options

Individuals with a passion for cartoon art might alternatively consider careers as animators or graphic designers. These fields require similar skills and education.

Multimedia Artist and Animator

By earning a bachelor's degree in art, computer graphics or a similar field, in addition to developing an impressive work portfolio, these artists and animators seek employment creating visual effects and animations for movies, television and video games. An employment growth of 8%, or as fast as the national average, was expected for these professionals during the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS. In 2017, they earned an annual median salary of $70,530, the BLS reported.

Graphic Designer

Normally requiring a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field of study, the profession of graphic design involves the creation of visual concepts, either by hand or with the assistance of computer software, to communicate inspirational ideas to consumers. The BLS projected a slower than average job growth of 4% overall from 2016-2026, but predicted a much faster than average increase of 20% in positions for graphic designers working in computer systems design, during that same period. The BLS reported an annual median wage of $48,700 for graphic designers in 2017.

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