Illustrator

Create

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would draw the pictures or diagrams used in products like adverts, book covers, greeting cards and product instructions.

Your drawings, paintings or diagrams will help to make products more attractive or easier to understand. You could illustrate all sorts of products including:

  • Books
  • Book jackets
  • Greetings cards
  • Advertisements
  • Packaging
  • Detailed technical diagrams

Your customer would describe their requirements –called a brief – and you would produce the illustrations. You’d need to use your imagination but also make sure that you meet the brief.

You would:

  • Discuss the brief with authors, editors or designers
  • Negotiate costs and timescales
  • Decide on the right style for illustrations
  • Draw or paint the illustrations by hand or using computer design software
  • Speak with the customer and change the designs if necessary
  • Make sure the work is completed within set budgets and deadlines

You may be able to specialise in one type of illustration. For example, in heritage illustration you’d design pictures for guidebooks, leaflets or maps for stately homes and castles.

If you work in educational illustration you could design websites, leaflets and publications for an academic institution.

Other illustrators create archaeological illustrations and children's books.

If you are self-employed, you’d also have to market your goods and services, deal with your business finances and promote your business.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually arrange your own working hours, depending on your workload and the deadlines you have to meet.

Environment

You could be based at home or in a studio.

Travel

You may spend time visiting clients to market your work and discuss briefs. If you are involved in technical, scientific or engineering illustration you may also make site visits.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Persuading people
  • Presenting to people
  • Using computers
  • Being creative
  • Time management
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Most illustrators have a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in

  • Illustration
  • Visual communication
  • Graphic design
  • Art and design 

You can enter an Art and design, Graphic design, Illustration or Visual communication Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

Courses often require:

  • English 
  • Maths
  • Art and Design
  • Graphic Communication.

Other ICT and design-centred subjects may be helpful.

You will also need

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7).