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Alternative titles for this job include

Illustrators produce drawings, paintings or diagrams for use in products like books and greetings cards, or on packaging.

Average salary (a year)

£18,000 Starter


£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 variable

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become an illustrator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could do a higher national diploma or degree in illustration or a related subject like fine art or graphic design.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • between 1 and 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma or degree

More Information


College courses that may help you get into this role include:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Art and Design
  • A level in Art and Design
  • Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More Information


You may be able to gain some of the skills to work as an illustrator in specific industries through a Higher Apprenticeship, such as:

  • Junior VFX Artist or Assistant Technical Director Level 4
  • Junior Animator Level 4

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

If you do not have art and design qualifications, but can show that you have the talent to illustrate, you could contact companies directly with examples of your work.

The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook gives advice on how to:

  • get started as a freelance illustrator
  • prepare a portfolio
  • find a publisher

More Information

Career tips

As a freelance illustrator you'll need to think of creative ways to get your work noticed. You'll also need a portfolio of your work to show prospective clients or for entry onto courses.

Building a website or starting a blog where you can showcase your work is one way to get noticed.

Having a presence on social media sites like Instagram is a great way of connecting with the public and potential customers.

If you work as a freelance illustrator you may decide to sell your work through an agent, who could put you in touch with more buyers. An agent will take a percentage of your sales as commission. The Society of Artists Agents has details of agents as well as examples of artists' work.

Further information

You can get more details about working in illustration from the Association of Illustrators.

You can get information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You may specialise in a particular field of illustration, like publishing, merchandising or fashion. Day-to-day you may:

  • discuss requirements, or a 'brief', with authors, editors or designers
  • negotiate prices and timescales
  • research your creative ideas
  • decide on the right style for illustrations
  • create rough, hand drawn sketches
  • create final illustrations using hand drawing, painting or computer design packages
  • if you're self-employed, promote your business and manage your finances

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio, from home or at a client's business.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

If you work freelance, you may need to spend time building up your clients and getting established. Some illustrators combine their work with other jobs until they can earn enough to make their illustration work profitable.

You can use your illustration skills in a variety of sectors including:

  • advertising
  • fashion
  • merchandising
  • publishing
  • websites and computer games

With the right skills you could move into specialist medical, scientific or technical illustration or go into teaching.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an illustrator right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

L2 Art & Design - Illustration

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: DAVENTRY

Level 3 Art & Design (Art & Illustration)

  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Burton on Trent

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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