Cartoonist: Overview of Education Programs for Cartooning

Oct 20, 2021

There are no set educational requirements for a career as a cartoonist. Cartoonists need to have artistic talent and the ability to express their ideas effectively in drawings that an audience will appreciate. Although postsecondary education is not necessarily required, a degree in fine arts can help develop skills.

Essential Information

A cartoonist expresses thoughts, ideas and opinions through art and drawings. Their work is often found in newspapers, magazines, websites and comic books. There are no formal education requirements for cartoonists, but a degree program in an art-related field could prove beneficial.

Required Education No mandatory educational requirements, but a bachelor's degree might be beneficial
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 4% for special effects artists and animators, 1% for fine artists, including illustrators
Median Annual Salary (May 2020)* $77,700 for special effects artists and animators, $52,340 for fine artists, including illustrators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) links cartoonists to fine artists, including illustrators, painters and sculptors. The agency does not set out specific educational requirements for cartoonists, but notes that artists, including cartoonists, can benefit from degree programs in fine art and illustration. Bachelor's degree programs in comic or sequential art are available as well.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration

In this degree program, students focus on graphic design concepts, figure drawing and digital design. Students might choose courses specific to comic or humorous illustration. Often, they must choose a specific concentration, whether it be studio art or medical illustration. It's not unusual for students to take courses in drawing facial expressions and vector and raster imaging as well as multiple studio courses, where they will hone their drawing skills.

These programs also might include courses in art history and professional practice. Some programs focus on cartooning, although they're similar to general illustration programs, including courses in figure drawing, perspective and figure modeling. Required courses might include study of digital imaging technology.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art

These programs focus on studio art, where students use time in the studio to brush up on multi-dimensional drawing, concepts and theories. Students also learn how to develop an idea and how location can influence their drawing and artwork. Students can expect to take classes in art history and learn about the tools of professional practice, including presentations and websites.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, as of May 2020, special effects artists and animators earned an annual mean salary of $88,080, and fine artists, including illustrators, earned $65,020. The BLS projects an average increase in employment of multimedia artists and animators, and an increase slower than average in employment for fine artists from 2019-2029.

Aspiring cartoonists can develop their skills by completing a bachelor's degree. They may opt to study fine arts, or they may consider a degree in illustration. Their training may include courses in art history, as well as multi-dimensional drawing.

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