Digital Artist Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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Get a realistic view of the education requirements, career options and salary information for a digital artist. Read about the skills needed for the occupation to see if this is the right job for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Being a Digital Artist

Digital artists have a variety of career paths open to them; they might work as Web developers, graphic designers or multimedia artists. Here are some more of the pros and cons of becoming a digital artist.

Pros of Being a Digital Artist
A variety of career opportunities (Web design, Web development, graphic design, multimedia)*
Mean annual wage ranged from $50,000-$69,000 as of May 2014*
Employment expected to grow faster than average for Web developers (20% projected growth between 2012 and 2022)*
Opportunities for self-employment are available*

Cons of Being a Digital Artist
Job may require night and weekend work for deadline-driven positions*
High competition for available jobs*
Some positions are being sent overseas for lower pay*
Employers might prefer a bachelor's degree for employment*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Duties

Depending on the area of work you focus on, your job duties as a digital artist can vary. If you choose to enter Web design or development, you can concentrate on creating digital art for a website that is appealing to the eye and user friendly. If you choose to work as a multimedia artist, you may be involved in animation, video game development or video streaming productions. You might create a series of pictures to develop the animation for different types of media, using free-hand drawing or your computer to put them in a logical sequence.

As a graphic designer, your digital art skills may be used to create newsletters, flyers, advertisements or print media. Graphic designers also must determine the best way to display print and graphics to the reader or viewer. After assessing the needs of the client and determining the message that you want to send to the public, you'll need to choose colors, styles and images that match the tone of the project. You also usually need to present your finished product to the client and make any necessary changes.

Salary Info

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual wage for graphic designers was about $50,000, while the average for multimedia artists and animators was about $69,000 (www.bls.gov). Web developers made a mean salary of about $68,000. In comparison, the national mean wage for all occupations reported by the BLS in May 2014 was about $47,000.

Career Requirements

Your required education as a digital artist depends on what area you choose to pursue, according to the BLS. Graphic designers typically need a bachelor's degree in a design-related field, while Web developers can find jobs with a computer science or graphic design bachelor's degree. Multimedia artists don't typically need a degree, but postsecondary training in art, computer graphics or animation can help them find jobs.

During an undergraduate program in the digital art field, schools can provide you with both classroom and practical experiences in the field. You can expect to take courses in digital media and video, computer music, sound art, digital editing and computer animation. You also might participate in labs or studios with state-of-the-art equipment. You'll learn not only how to design different types of art, but you can also learn how to package your work into an appealing portfolio.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers searching for digital artists look for candidates with experience and training in specific software used in the industry, such as Adobe Suite, Flash, HTML and InDesign. Here are some multimedia, graphic design and Web design job openings posted on Monster.com in May 2012.

  • A company in Texas is hiring a graphic/Web designer. Applicants must have at least three years of experience in both print and Web design, and a bachelor's or master's degree is preferred.
  • An advertising company in Illinois needs a full-time graphic designer/Web designer with at least two years of experience and an associate's degree. The employee must work with other designers, project managers, writers and specialists to design websites and meet their business goals. HTML knowledge is considered a plus, and a bachelor's degree is preferred.
  • A college in California is seeking a multimedia video designer and artist for the Web who has at least one year of experience for its Internet and media department. Applicants should have experience with MacIntosh computers, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, as well as Microsoft Word and Excel. Photo editing experience and a 4-year degree are also required.

How to Stand Out

Because finding employment as a digital artist can be quite competitive, having an advanced degree or training in industry software can help you stand out as an applicant. Many employers require that job candidates hold a bachelor's degree, and some prefer a master's degree. You can pursue a master's degree with an area of focus in computer animation, interactive multimedia, imaging, digital illustration, graphic design or Web design.

The BLS stated that training in visual display and computer graphics software is vital for art-related jobs. You can take courses in specific software programs related to digital art, like Adobe Photoshop or Flash. Some degree programs include specialized classes in these programs.

Other Career Paths to Consider

If you enjoy matching music and sound with images, a job as a film or video editor may be a more enjoyable career choice. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for film and video editors as of May 2011 was about $67,000, but employment growth in the industry was expected to be only four percent between 2010-2020.

You could also pursue a career in computer programming if you enjoy learning about the specifications and coding used to run applications. Computer programmers earned a median annual wage of approximately $73,000 as of May 2011. An employment growth of 12% was expected for the industry between 2010-2020, according to the BLS, which was about average.

Popular Schools

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
  • AASIT: Network Admin

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Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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South College

  • Associate of Science in Network Administration & Security

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Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Web Page Designer

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American National University

  • Network Administration - Associate

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South University

  • Information Systems (MS)

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