Home » Graphic Design School and Career Guide » Illustrator Job Description

Illustrator Job Description

Learn what draws people to an illustrator career.
Search for programs near you
Pens in a jar with other supplies in background

When you need to set a mood or tell a story, an illustration can go miles toward communicating your message.

In an illustrator job you may find yourself working in a variety of industries. There are opportunities designing video game sets, creating storyboards for films or TV, or illustrating medical textbooks. From working in criminal justice to illustrating children's books, illustration is a highly flexible field that rewards those than can adapt easily to change.

No matter where you end up, an illustration job will definitely give you the opportunity for creative expression.

Illustration Job Duties

What kind of jobs will you do as an illustrator? The possibilities are almost endless.You'll create pictures for books, magazines, blogs, e-zines and any number of types of publications. You'll work with commercial products and design textiles, greeting cards, wrapping paper and invitations. You'll use a computer and scan your drawings in to add color or use a graphics tablet and pen to draw directly into the computer. You can choose to work as a medical and scientific illustrator, and create 2- and 3-dimensional anatomical and molecular illustrations, or in criminal justice where you'll create age-progression illustrations or work as a sketch artist.

Average Annual Salary for Illustrators


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021

It's important to note that your illustrator job description will include more than just creating artwork. You will also spend time doing the following:

  • Communicating with customers
  • Brainstorming and creating drafts of ideas
  • Creating a project timeline and meeting deadlines
  • Working with printers or others to ensure the quality of the final product

Essential Skills

  • Artistic Skill: In an illustration job, your drawing or painting ability is your most marketable skill. You can enhance your natural talent by taking classes that will help you perfect your technique and develop your knowledge of color and composition. Attending an art school with an illustration program may also help you build the skills you'll need to market yourself, learn new technology and create a compelling portfolio.
  • Technical Ability: Illustrators often use computers to produce their work. Having technical ability will help you in your illustration job. Whether you want to use computer-generated effects or edit your work easily, computer software can help you achieve results.
  • Social Skills: The majority of illustrators freelance, so you'll need to be able to network to find illustration jobs. Initiating and maintaining customer relationships requires people skills. You'll need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and be willing to receive customer feedback or criticism.
  • Problem Solving Skills: You'll need to be able to clear hurdles, create options, and implement solutions, especially if you work on assignments or a deadline.

Traits of Successful Illustrators

In order to succeed in your illustrator career, you'll need to be adaptable and inventive. Here are some other traits that work well for illustrators:

  • Detail oriented
  • Independent
  • Originality
  • Good manual dexterity

If you've got the talent, desire, and drive to put your illustrator skills into action, why not start researching education programs? Education expands your career and networking options, and can give self-employed illustrators an edge in a competitive workplace.

Search for programs near you

Graphic Design Degree & Career Guide