Digital Artist: Employment Info & Requirements

Digital artists, also known as multimedia artists, create animated images and visual effects for computer games, films, television productions, and other related media. For more information about required education and skills, career outlook, and salaries for digital artists, read on!

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Career Definition for a Digital Artist

Digital or multimedia artists use technology to make their artwork come alive. In addition to traditional art techniques, such as drawing and sculpture, digital artists use computer software to create 3-D animation, interactive website graphics, or digitally enhanced photographs. They may also develop storyboards for animation scenes and edit animation effects. Digital artists typically work in motion pictures, software publishing, and advertising firms.

Education Bachelor's degree in commercial or visual art recommended
Job Skills Computer design, marketing, Web design
Median Salary (2015)* $63,970 for multimedia artists and animators
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for multimedia artists and animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A bachelor's degree in commercial or visual art is not always required to obtain a position as a digital artist; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 4-year education in a relevant field of study is becoming the standard in the industry. Programs typically include coursework in digital imaging, animation design, and digital illustration, as well as classical art techniques and training in the use of current computer software. Some programs may also for specializations in animation, interactive media, or game design.

Skills Required

In addition to artistic skills, digital artists must be adept in the use of computer design programs, such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop or Dreamweaver. Depending on the field, marketing and Web design skills may also be helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for multimedia artists was reported as $63,970 in May 2015. During this same month, the top-paying states, which also offered the highest levels of employment, included California, New York, and Washington. Between 2014 and 2024, job opportunities within the field of multimedia art and animation are projected to grow by 6%, an average rate, as indicated by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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Alternate Career Options

Here are a couple of other options in visual design careers:

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers also use computer software, as well as traditional hand techniques, to create images and layouts for advertisements, publications, and reports; they may also design websites. While completion of a bachelor's program in graphic design is usually required to enter the field, aspiring professionals with a degree in another major might be able to obtain positions with additional training.

As reported by the BLS, employment opportunities for graphic designers nationwide are expected to increase by 1% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the average when compared to all other occupations. During the same period, a dramatic 35% decrease is projected for designers employed by book, directory, magazine, and newspaper publishers. However, graphic designers working in computer systems design and related areas can look forward to a 21% increase from 2014 to 2024. In May 2015, graphic designers in general received median yearly salaries of $46,900. States with the highest levels of employment during this same month included California and New York.

Web Developers

Web developers design and oversee the capacity and performance attributes of websites, which may include content development. An associate's degree in a relevant field of study is typically required to obtain a position, along with a knowledge of graphic design and computer programming languages. At 27%, job opportunities for Web developers nationwide are expected to increase by a much faster than average rate between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the BLS. The BLS also reports that, as of May 2015, Web developers earned median annual wages of $64,970, with the highest levels of employment found in California and New York.

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