Cartoonist: Overview of Education Programs for Cartooning

A cartoonist expresses thoughts, ideas and opinions through art and drawings. Many cartoonists use comic, critical or dramatic talents in addition to their drawing skills. Cartoons are often found in newspapers, magazines, websites and comic books.

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Education Options for Cartoonists

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, benefit from degree programs in fine art and illustration. A bachelor's degree in comic or sequential art may be 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 may choose courses specific to comic illustration or humorous illustrations. 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 may also include courses in art history and professional practice. Some programs focus on cartooning, although they are similar to general illustration programs, including courses in figure drawing, perspective and figure modeling. Required courses may 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 may 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.

Cartoonist Salary and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2013, multimedia artists and animators earned an annual median salary of $64,470, and fine artists, including illustrators, earned $42,610. The BLS projects an 6% increase in employment of multimedia artists and animators, and a 4% increase in employment for fine artists from 2012-2022. Both figures represent employment growth that is slower than the national average.

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