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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)


Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 variable

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

Meet Anh

Anh is a freelance illustrator.

A woman with round glasses stood outside and smiling.
BBC Bitesize logo

She likes that she does not have to do the same thing every day.

Watch Anh’s story on BBC Bitesize Careers

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become 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


You could do a course in art and design to help you become an illustrator.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More Information


You could take an apprenticeship to learn some of the skills you need to get started as an illustrator, like:

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

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 or design qualifications, you can contact companies directly to share examples of your work.

You can find information on the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 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 a portfolio to showcase your work. You'll need this to get onto a course or to show clients.

You might want to create your portfolio on:

  • your own website
  • a blog
  • social media platforms like Instagram

If you're working freelance, you can sell your work directly or through an agent. 

Agents have access to a large network of buyers and 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 (AOI).

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

Your day-to-day tasks might depend on the field of illustration you work in.

As an illustrator you could:

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

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'll need to build up and maintain a client base.

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

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

With further training and experience you could specialise as a medical illustrator or scientific illustrator. You could also move 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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Skills assessment

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