Salary Comparisons for Art Illustrators

by Rick Suttle

Andy Warhol became famous as an art illustrator in 1962 when he designed 32 soup can canvases for Campbell's, according to The Museum of Modern Art. Art illustrators in the 21st century now have access to computers to design images for books, calendars, advertisements and medical textbooks. If you want to become an art illustrator, you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree in fine art. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging more than $50,000 annually.

Salary and Qualifications

The average annual salary for an art illustrator was $54,000 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent made over $93,030 annually. Many of these professionals have bachelor's or master's degree in fine arts, specializing in such areas as illustration, graphic design or comic art. If you don't have a degree, a certification in fine arts through a community or technical college may get you hired, especially if you have a strong portfolio of illustrations. Other key qualifications include creativity, manual dexterity, and customer service, interpersonal, sales and marketing skills.

Types of Illustrators and Their Salaries

Some of the more common types of art illustrators are medical, advertising, book, comic and courtroom illustrators. In 2013, comic book illustrators earned the highest salaries of $91,000, according to the job site Indeed. Book illustrators earned the next highest salaries of $64,000, while medical illustrators made $55,000 per year. Medical illustrators draw diagrams of animals and humans for textbooks and museums. Many of them major in pre-med and art. If you work as an advertising or courtroom illustrator, you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $54,000.

Salary by Industry

Art illustrators earn some of the highest salaries of $77,770 working for software publishers, according to the BLS. They also earned relatively high salaries in the scientific research and development and motion picture industries – $63,400 and $63,330 per year, respectively. If you worked for a glass products manufacturer, you'd earn significantly less at $41,470 annually.

Salary by State

In 2012, the state of Washington paid art illustrators the highest salaries of $69,830 per year. Those in New York and California made the second and third highest earnings of $66,600 and $65,670, respectively. If you worked in Connecticut, your salary would be closer to the national average for all art illustrators at $56,790. In Illinois, Utah or Florida, you'd make much less – $49,400, $39,000 and $32,490, respectively.

Job Outlook

The BLS only projects a 5 percent increase in jobs for craft and fine artists from 2010 to 2020, which is well below the national average of 14 percent for all occupations. Demand for art illustrators with corporate experience should increase as companies use more art designs on their products and in advertisements. Your ability to find a job in this field will be contingent on the economy. Jobs for print book illustrators will decrease over the next decade, as more books are published in electronic formats for online selling.

Photo Credits

  • Getty Images/Lifesize/Getty Images