IllustratorJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
Illustrators are artists that use their imaginative skills to create images for various types of companies. You will need excellent drawing, sketching, and painting skills and strong communication skills to succeed in this role.
Illustrators are responsible for creating intrinsic images that tell a story or express an idea or feeling to their clients. People in this field typically use digital media to complete their work, requiring illustrators to understand and utilize CAD software. It is important for illustrators to work with the company’s team to help turn concepts into clever marketable images.
This job opportunity gives individuals the creative freedom to make high-quality pieces for the clients they work with. The longer a person works with their clients, the easier it will be to get their name out there and demonstrate their talent to others. Illustrators that are able to meet strict deadlines and are precise in the work they accomplish will be rewarded with new clients and greater compensation.
Sample job description
[Your Company Name] is in search of an illustrator with a passion for the art of bringing ideas to life. An outstanding illustrator has the ability to work closely with our clients and marketing team to create artwork for our digital and print media publications. Experience with drawing, painting, and digital artwork across a variety of styles is a plus. If you are easily inspired to create from written words, models, sketches, and your own imagination even under set deadlines, you are the kind of person we are looking for.
Typical duties and responsibilities
Collaborate with fellow creatives to brainstorm image packages
Prepare budgets and production schedules
Design rough drafts for client approval
Create illustrations using hand-drawn and digital tools
Edit and refine designs using illustration programs and platforms
Format and share final files with the creative team for review
Deliver final files to the client for review
Education and experience
This position requires a high school diploma, a GED, or an associate degree from a college or university; a bachelor’s degree is preferred.
Required skills and qualifications
Proficiency using computer-aided design programs
Excellent drawing, painting, and digital design skills
Proficiency using image editing and design tools like Adobe Creative Cloud
Ability to follow a creative brief and incorporate client feedback
Strong creative and conceptual skills
Ability to work under tight deadlines
Bachelor’s degree in Illustration or related field, or equivalent experience
Exceptional proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for illustrator is $56,950 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
Illustrators commonly work in well-lit design studios at a drawing desk or on a computer. Freelance illustrators are more likely to work at home with their own space and equipment.
The work hours for a full-time illustrator are typically from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may, at times, be necessary.
Certification or degrees from an arts program will increase your chances of being hired as an illustrator. Here are a couple of illustrator specific certification programs:
Adobe Certified Professional. Adobe is the biggest name in artistic software in the world. By gaining certification as an expert in one or more of their programs shows that you know what you’re doing in your field. To become an Adobe Certified Professional, you have to take a test for your software of choice that includes both questions and practical tasks. For illustrators, the best programs to become certified in are Photoshop and Illustrator.
Specialized Illustration Certification. Depending on the field you want to work in, there are certifications available for specific types of illustration. For example, a Certificate of Completion in Natural Science Illustration, Certificate of Completion in Children’s Book Illustration, or Associate of Arts in Fashion Illustration. These certificates all have their own requirements and allow you to deepen your skills in a form of illustration that suits you best.
Becoming a full-time illustrator can take many different paths, but each direction is dependent on building a solid, proven skillset.
Your creative portfolio is key to getting hired as a professional Illustrator. Many candidates do pursue a bachelor’s degree in fine art or visual media to expand their skillsets and grow their expertise. Still, a substantial body of work will offset a lack of formal education. Between full-time positions, illustrators often market themselves as freelancers to continue building their portfolios and experience. Many employers look for candidates who have earned an Adobe Certified Associate certification in Graphic Design and Illustration or its equivalent.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 27-1013
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
Despite the rise of the internet and digital media, traditional trades like printmaking are seeing a comeback. As interactive video continues to dominate SEO strategy, Illustrators are also creating content that combines still drawings with animation. Illustrative lettering has emerged as an excellent tool for increasing brand engagement on social media. Staying on top of new (and resurgent) trends will keep illustrators versatile in an ever-evolving industry.
Sample interview questions
What resources and techniques did you use to design your most recent pieces?
What kind of design software do you have experience using?
How do you keep up with new techniques and tools?
How do you find inspiration for an illustration?
How do you overcome creative block?
What would you do if a client rejected all of your presented drafts?
How do you work with a client that doesn’t know what they want?
Tell me about a time you had to work under pressure to meet a tight deadline.
Do you have experience working in a creative team?
How do you decide which pieces to add to your portfolio?
How do you start a new project and how do you know when a project is complete?
If you need more time on a project, would you ask the client for an extension or turn in what you have completed by the deadline?
What would you do if a printed design looks different than how you designed it digitally?
We match top professionals with great employers across the country. Your next career move or star employee is just around the corner. Review our career content and advice, browse our latest job openings, or email us your resume. We look forward to connecting with you soon!