How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Cartoonist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $54,170
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

A cartoonist is an accomplished expert at art and design, who communicates stories via images, words or a combination of both. Cartoonists not only share stories through this medium, but also provide a commentary on society and life in general.

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What is a Cartoonist?


A cartoonist performs essential tasks such as the following:

  • Create various art for digital media, print and publishing, which can involve concept art, designs and illustrations.
  • Coordinate with different teams to make sure that cartoon drawings are in line with mutually agreed upon artistic goals.
  • Build designs that are aligned with the specific client or organisation’s quality and brand guidelines.
  • Contribute to projects based on individual merit, utilizing an advanced knowledge of graphic design software or packages like GIS, HTML, Adobe Creative Suite, CAD, etc.

Day In The Life

As part of your daily schedule as a cartoonist, you will spend time bringing your own vision or a client’s idea to life in the form of pictures and words. You will typically use either digital tools or traditional methods to create cartoons. Some also utilise a combination of paper with pencil, which is later scanned and uploaded to a software application. Sketches are done with pencil or charcoal, then finished up with ink or pens.

You might choose to be a specialist in creating a specific type of cartoon as part of your portfolio. For instance, you may create cartoons embodying political satire, as part of a commentary on current political issues or individuals in the public realm. For such comic strips, you would develop exaggerated impressions of people to communicate your point. In addition, some cartoonists are expected to write their own storylines and plots before they create the drawings. In such a case, plots would be discussed and finalised weeks or months in advance.

Besides the routine tasks that bring job security such as working with a publishing house, cartoonists also accept commissioned jobs or have their independent ventures as a supplemental project for publication or distribution online. A cartoonist’s role constantly requires you to have superior levels of creativity and an awareness of the latest trends to showcase innovative ideas.

Work Schedule

When you are working as a cartoonist, the work schedule varies greatly based on the career path you choose. For instance, those working freelance typically work from home, but they must be able to meet tight deadlines and deal with high stress situations. A full-time cartoonist is able to enjoy standard hours in an office environment. Overtime is not unusual in the case of phases when the work builds up.  in that field depends largely on the career path chosen within the larger field. The work often involves meeting very difficult deadlines and it can be quite stressful.

Growth Of The Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the employment prospects for those in careers such as cartoonists and illustrators will experience a growth of at least 3% in the 2014-2024 decade. The popularity of fine arts in the form of animated cartoons and television shows requires extremely talented and creative professionals like animators and cartoonists.

This particular field has fierce competition, and those cartoonists that are successful usually develop a unique style that appeals to selective audiences. Success is linked to big achievements like being published by a national or regional publication such as magazines, newspapers, etc. If you are working in related fields like advertising or film studios, being promoted to a supervisory level is possible when you have built a good reputation.

Typical Employers

As a cartoonist, you can expect to work with video or film production, cartoon television channels, gaming networks, print syndicates, publishing houses, etc.

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How To Become a Cartoonist

A basic requirement of all cartoonists is to have advanced skills in design and drawing. Having an idea of the latest developments around the world is also relevant if you are planning to work on politically charged illustrations or at a newspaper. At an early level, you should take classes in literature, art and political science. In higher education, you can either graduate with a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from a reputed, nationally accredited art school or a four-year college with a fine arts program. Some also complete a degree in journalism or political science in keeping with their future ambitions. At an art program, you would become familiar with concepts such as computer graphics, drawing and typography utilizing online and offline media forms.

Cartoonist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Cartoonist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Cartoonist's can make an average annual salary of $54,170, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $29,250 or $14 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #337 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Cartoonists

  • 1.9%   Doctorate
  • 12%   Masters
  • 45%   Bachelors
  • 9%   Associates
  • 18.4%   College
  • 10.7%   High School
  • 3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Cartoonist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 800 jobs for a total of 27,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #519 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Cartoonists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 14,300 100 0%
Independent artists, writers, and performers 3,400 200 0%
Other miscellaneous store retailers 600 --- ---

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