Becoming a Computer Artist: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a computer artist career? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming a computer artist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Being a Computer Artist

A computer artist uses graphics, Web design and multimedia tools to create interactive images, backgrounds and Web pages that are eye-pleasing for users. Read on for more pros and cons of the field to see if this career is right for you.

PROS of Being a Computer Artist
Average job growth (6% growth between 2012 and 2022)*
Can enter field with experience or associate's degree*
Promotional opportunities to art director with higher-level degree program or experience*
Job opportunities in multiple industries (film, publishing and video game)*

CONS of Being a Computer Artist
Entry-level artist may do routine work to start*
May need evidence of experience to gain employment*
Overtime may be required when under strict deadlines*
Freelance computer artists may need to hold a full-time job until they build a portfolio*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Duties

As a computer artist, you'll create special effects and animations, along with multimedia and interactive content, for the Web and games. You'll use video, audio, written and artistic materials to produce what your employer or client requires. The ability to storyboard - or sequence materials and effects - is essential to a career as a computer artist.

Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2014, there were 29,000 multimedia artists and animators working in the U.S.; they earned a mean annual wage of $69,410 (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that, at that time, California was the highest employing state in the nation for this field, while the motion picture and video industries were the highest employing and the wholesale electronic markets industry was the highest paying.

What Are the Requirements?

Useful Skills

Some employers might train you on the job; however, a certificate or associate's degree program in computer arts also could teach you the skills needed for an entry-level position. Based on information obtained from Careerinfonet.org, some of the topics of study you might want to seek in your education program include:

  • Media and animation
  • Reading, oral and written comprehension
  • Fine arts, English and speech
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Critical thinking, time management, active listening and decision making

Job Postings from Real Employers

According to the BLS, training in visual display software, graphics and computer techniques is critical in the media art industry. Many employers require knowledge of specific software before they'll consider you for open positions. Here are some examples of job openings posted on Monster.com in March 2012:

  • An advertising company in Boston, MA, sought a computer artist with a bachelor's degree in a related discipline. The employee would create OLA banners, HTML e-mails and print advertising. The candidate needed copy flow, typography and copy editing skills, knowledge of Photoshop and InDesign skills, including style sheets, layers and templates.
  • A Los Angeles, CA, advertising agency was hiring a Web production artist with Flash animation experience. This individual would make website updates and would report to the interactive director. Proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator and Actionscript 3 was desired.
  • A company in the Boston, MA, area was seeking a Web production artist to work with its creative director designing and developing an e-mail campaign. This employer desired a minimum of two years' experience in the field, including a background in nested tables, inline style and HTML coding for e-mail, as well as the ability to use Adobe CS3 on a PC platform.

How to Stand Out

Get Your Bachelor's Degree

The more experience and education you have in computer art, the better your prospects for gainful employment. Through a bachelor's degree program in computer arts and design or a related field, you can take courses in 2-D and 3-D animation, sonic art, modeling, photo manipulation, digital illustration, Web design and graphics. Many programs also include internship opportunities for on-the-job experience.

Develop a Portfolio

Most college programs in computer art incorporate portfolio development throughout your studies, and as you complete work programs or internships, you can add to your portfolio. Once employed in the field, you can continue developing your portfolio for possible career advancement.

Other Career Paths

Desktop Publisher

Do you like designing documents but don't think interactivity is for you? As a desktop publisher, you would use computers to design documents for print using graphic arts, text, photos, illustrations and other visual elements. You might develop brochures, books, newsletters, newspapers or even entire advertising campaigns. There isn't a specific educational requirement for desktop publishers, and many learn through on-the-job training; however, artistic ability and a good eye for page layout are needed. As of May 2010, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for desktop publishers was $39,060 in the U.S.

Graphic Designer

Another career option is graphic designer. This position requires communicating messages effectively via visual, electronic or print media. Graphic designers use layout, color, photography, illustration and animation to perform their jobs. In addition, many graphic designers choose to specialize in an area like Web page design. Graphic designers typically need a bachelor's degree to gain entry-level positions in the field. Graphic designers earned a mean annual salary of $48,140 as of May 2010, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Design & Media Management (MA)
      • Computer Animation (MFA)
    Bachelor's
      • Game Art & Design (BFA)
      • Game Art & Design (BS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BFA)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BS)
      • Game Art & Design (BA)
      • Computer Animation (BFA)
    Associate's
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAA)
      • Graphic & Web Design (AAS)
      • Graphic Design (AAS)
      • Graphic Design (AS)
    Certificate
      • Digital Image Management (C)
      • Web Design & Interactive Communications (C)
    High School Diploma
      • Digital Design (D)
      • Digital Image Management (D)
      • Web Design & Development (D)
      • Web Design & Interactive Communications (D)
      • Web Design (D)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
      • B.S. - Game Art
      • B.S. - Web Design and Development
      • B.S. - Game Design
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
      • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
    Master's
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Human Resources and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology (BS)
    Associate's
      • Information Technology (AS)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. City University of Seattle

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. Computer Science
      • M.S. Information Security
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Applied Computing
      • B.S. Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
      • B.S. Information Systems
      • B.S. Information Technology

Featured Schools

The Art Institutes

  • Design & Media Management (MA)
  • Game Art & Design (BFA)
  • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAS)
  • Digital Image Management (C)
  • Digital Design (D)

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
  • BS - Game Design (Campus)
  • B.S. - Computer Animation

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • B.S. in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • MSTIM - Computer Science
  • MBA - Computer and Information Security

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Technology Studies

What is your highest level of education?