Is becoming an illustrator right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do illustrators do?
Career Satisfaction
Are illustrators happy with their careers?
What are illustrators like?

Still unsure if becoming an illustrator is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an illustrator or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become an Illustrator

The earlier an illustrator learns to draw the better, though anyone can learn the technical skills for drawing at any age.

Most illustrators have at least an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration, though it is possible to qualify for some entry level positions with only a high school diploma and exceptional drawing skills. However, degree programs are designed to strengthen an illustrator’s design ability with skills like drawing, painting, and graphic design. 

Post secondary training will expose students to the many different art styles and opens them up to the different components of design. These courses help students improve their technical skills and help them think visually. Course topics may include 2-D and 3-D graphics, drawing, color theory, printmaking, typography, and history.

Anyone considering a career as a medical illustrator may need to take premedical undergraduate courses along with a graduate degree. A Master's Degree in Medical Illustration takes two years to complete and includes courses like medical illustration, human anatomy, and surgical sketching. These types of illustrations require accuracy and precision with a realistic style. 

All illustrators should begin developing a portfolio early on in their careers to showcase their best work for potential clients. When employers look at professional portfolios, they are checking them over closely to make sure they hire the most talented illustrators.

Portfolios can feature the best works that cover a wide range of styles and mediums so that employers can see the breadth of an illustrator's skill. If an illustrator is trying to get a job as a children’s book illustrator, the work that best demonstrates their skill in that particular genre should be shown. 

Most employers look for three or four years of industry experience. For this reason, many programs incorporate internship opportunities for students to get experience so that they are more employable upon graduation. Students should begin looking for freelance opportunities while they are in school to help bolster their portfolio.