Technical Illustrator: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a technical illustrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Technical illustrators create technical graphics for various kinds of technical materials. They require a college degree as well as proficiency in illustration software. These positions have an annual mean salary of about $54,000.

Essential Information

A technical illustrator designs and creates visual representations for the products and services offered by their employer. They work to render illustrations for use in technical publications and manuals. They often use advanced design computer programs to create illustrations. These professionals typically hold a bachelor's degree in illustration or have previous experience in this field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in illustration or related field typically required
Other Requirements Relevant illustration experience may substitute formal education; knowledge of software illustration programs required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for all fine artists (including illustrators)
Mean Salary (2015)* $54,170 for all fine artists (including illustrators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Technical Illustrator Job Description

Technical illustrators work in conjunction with design teams and technical writers to create a variety of technical graphics. A technical illustrator takes information from text or data and creates illustrations that communicate this information concisely and accurately. This information could be research content, installation instructions or diagrams for a service guide.

Responsibilities of a technical illustrator revolve around the preservation of graphical material released by the illustrator's company. This involves following regulatory standards, and effectively communicating the message the employer intends to deliver. Technical writers must have an understanding of their employer's products and goals.

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Technical Illustrator Job Requirements

Jobs requirements for a technical illustrator involve a combination of education and relevant experience. Typically, employers require either a bachelor's degree or equivalent illustration experience. Technical illustrators should be familiar with a variety of software programs, including AutoCAD, Photoshop, MS Office, Adobe Flash Builder and both Windows and Macintosh systems. Strong communication skills are desired by employers of a technical illustrators.

Associate of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree programs in illustration and design are available to students interested in becoming technical illustrators. These programs help students to advance their design and illustration skills. Students in illustration and design degree programs develop technical proficiency in computer programs that model and design images. They also study art history and a variety of artistic theories and fundamentals. Some programs also include courses on business topics that help students prepare for the possibility of working as a freelance designer after graduation. In addition to undergraduate level programs, there are some graduate-level programs that may help illustration professionals to further their careers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employment opportunities for fine artists, including illustrators, painters and sculptors, were expected to increase 2% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than average. Illustrators who understand digital media and relevant software programs should see the best job prospects. Fine artists in general earned an average of $54,170 per year in 2015, according to the BLS.

Technical illustrators usually require a bachelor's degree in a related field, but some jobs may only require an associate's degree with illustration experience. Illustrators must be proficient in a variety of illustration and desktop publishing software packages. These positions have a job outlook that is slower than the market.

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