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Illustrators produce drawings, paintings or diagrams for use in products like books and greetings cards, or on packaging.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but many illustrators have a degree in illustration or other arts-related subject like graphic design.

Even without a degree you can still be successful if you have artistic flair and a strong collection of work (portfolio).

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent time management
  • attention to detail
  • the ability to work to a brief
  • creativity and imagination

3. What you'll do

You may specialise in one area of illustration, like technical, childrens books or advertising.

You day-to-day tasks may include:

  • discussing requirements, or ‘briefs’, with authors, editors or designers
  • negotiating prices and timescales
  • deciding on the right style for illustrations
  • creating illustrations using hand drawing, painting or computer design packages
If you work for yourself, you’ll also need to promote your business and manage your own finances.

Creative Choices has more information about being an illustrator. 

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000

If you work for yourself you’ll negotiate your fee with your client. Fees are often based on the amount of time it takes to complete work.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

If freelance, you’ll usually arrange your own hours depending on your workload and the deadlines you have to meet. 

You could be based at home or in a studio, and may spend time visiting clients to market your work and discuss briefs.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and graphic design skills you could work for a design agency, publishing company or magazine.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018