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Job and Wage Outlook for those Majoring in Illustration

Job Market Outlook April 20, 2015

Illustration majors may work as artists in diverse fields and build their technical and artistic skills. Book cover art, picture books, textile designs, animations, and magazine article illustrations utilize the ability to communicate certain ideas through images. Finding a specialization area and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree program is a good start for those interested in becoming illustrators.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Programs in Illustration

Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree in Illustration are provided with a foundation in studio arts that emphasizes the development of strong drawing skills. Through additional coursework in illustration, students blend their fine arts training with the principles of graphic design to make effective visual statements. In addition to drawing, students hone their ability to think conceptually to deliver striking messages.

Graduates are ready for emerging and traditional illustration markets through good illustration programs that require students to create a well-rounded portfolio showcasing their mastery of digital arts media, in addition to illustrations employing more traditional mediums.

Core coursework in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Illustration program includes studies of illustration concepts, art history, digital arts, photography, graphic design, printmaking, painting, and drawing.

Illustrator Job and Wage Outlook

Illustrators traditionally create images for print media, including children’s books, newspapers, and magazines. Illustrators’ design skills may also be applied to commercial products, such as textiles, calendars, stationery, and greeting cards.

Various clients from diverse industries may employ freelance illustrators, whose creations may include multimedia graphics, advertising, scenery, video game objects, or storyboards. In May 2012, illustrators, grouped with fine artists, brought home an average annual wage of $54,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The highest concentration of these professionals was in the states of Utah, Washington, and California.

Medical and Science Illustrator Job and Wage Outlook

Images are created by medical and science illustrators for various mediums that call for detailed models and illustrations; these include teaching audiovisuals, pharmaceutical publications, botanical galleries, wildlife magazines, science research journals, and medical textbooks. Artistic skill training and a background in medicine or science are requirements in these areas of illustration specialization. Both aspiring science and medical illustrators can avail specialized programs.

Typically, dual bachelor’s degrees in science and art or illustration are earned by medical and science illustrators, who augment it with graduate training. In 2009, medical illustrators brought in an average annual wage of $61,000 with a wage-level of $150,000 at the highest end (Association of Medical Illustrators). A higher average annual wage of $79,000 was earned by self-employed medical illustrators. In December 2013, the average annual wage of $41,871 was grossed by scientific artists.

Fashion Illustrator Job and Wage Outlook

Skilled illustrators also apply their trade in the fashion industry, who augment their strong drawing and design skills with fashion sense to bring visions of fashion designers to fruition in digital and traditional media alike.

Print and online advertising are created by fashion illustrators for accessories, shoes, and clothing. Fashion houses, independent designers, catalogs, department stores, ad agencies, and fashion magazines employ these professionals.

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