How to Become a Cartoon Artist

Cartoon Artist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $43,700
Avg. Pay / hour $21.01
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook 14%

Cartoon Artists use their natural talents to create a range of drawings for a variety of industries.

In this line of work, Cartoon Artists can find themselves creating traditional 2 dimensional artwork as well as 3 dimensional pieces of work for their clients.

Being a Cartoon Artist may seem like a fun career, but in reality, it takes also takes a lot of hard work to build a reputation in a competitive industry.

A majority of Cartoon Artists provide their services through freelance work, which means they are self employed and lend their creativity to specific projects sought out by their clients.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 60% of artists provide their expertise through self employment tactics.

People who want to become a Cartoon Artist can find work in a wide range of sectors including print media, advertisement companies, video game creators or animated cartoons or movies.

People who are interested in this type of career and want to use their creativity to make a living may also have an interest in finding work in the following types of jobs: Graphic Designer, Artist, Painter, Website, Designer, Fashion Designer, Home Designer, or Art Director.

Education Requirements to Become a Cartoon Artist

Although having a knack for creativity helps some candidates find work, having some educational experience to support a creative mind will help someone become a Cartoon Artist who is highly skilled and qualified.

There isn’t a specific track in order to become a Cartoon Artist, although focusing on a major that strengthens your natural talent is a great start.

Some possible educational routes can include majoring in Art, Illustration, Graphic Design or a similar track.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design has accredited approximately 300 art programs that can award a degree in art.

A candidate seeking an advanced degree can work towards a certification, an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s Degree; some programs also offer a Master’s degree in art.

One important component that strengthens a candidate’s background is the collection of an artist’s existing work.

Artists must create a portfolio of their accomplished work to show to potential clients.

A portfolio can help potential clients gauge an artist’s creative scope and capabilities as well as help them determine an artist’s potential role in a specific project.

Cartoon Artist Job Description

Because the majority of Cartoon Artists are self employed, they must spend a good part of their time searching for and acquiring clients and specific projects.

This is where an artist’s portfolio comes into play.

Cartoon Artists can provide their portfolio, which also serves as a resume to prospective clients.

Clients can determine whether the artist’s techniques and style fits the project’s or company’s objective.

After discussing a project with a client, the artist will start creating a drawing according to agreed specifications.

Cartoon Artists can use a wide range of supplies such as charcoal, computer images, pencil or ink to make their creations.

They may also incorporate text to supplement a cartoon’s message.

Cartoon Artists open to working with technology can also use this form of art to create their work.

Animations that a Cartoon Artist creates can be used in many ways including:

  • Video Games
  • Political Reasons
  • Sports
  • Social Awareness
  • Advertisements
  • Cartoon Strips
  • Animated Movies

Cartoon Artist Salary and Career Path

The job outlook for all Artists in general is expected to grow at the average pace.

However, openings for both salaried and freelance positions are extremely competitive due the high number of talented artists but smaller number of openings.

Some careers, such as for Art Directors is expected to grow due to a higher demand in advertising but on the other hand, job growth in the publication sector is expected to level off this growth.

The salary for a Cartoon Artist will depend on whether they are self employed or salaried employees.

The national median wage for Artists in all types of professions is approximately $29,000.

The salary range for these professionals is $20,700 to $54,500 per year.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Idaho- NA -
Kansas- NA -
Michigan- NA -
New Hampshire$42,580
New Jersey$81,830
New Mexico$45,250
New York$120,510
North Carolina$45,330
Pennsylvania- NA -
South Carolina- NA -

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $120,510.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $120,510
Connecticut - $107,140
New Jersey - $81,830
Minnesota - $72,820
Oregon - $69,470
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators, OCC Code 27-1013, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a cartoon artist do?

A cartoon artist (or a cartoonist) is an artist that specializes in creating animated cartoons.

That can be done manually or with the help of a computer.

Nowadays, a lot of cartoon artists use digital tools to create their characters, however, there are still some professionals that draw cartoons on paper.

Unlike an illustrator, a cartoon artist deals only with animated characters.

The artist can be a freelancer or work for a publishing company, newspaper, magazine, a gaming company, a film or television studio, and so on.

Cartoons can be used in various manuals, installation guides, and even political commentary.

The artist can specialize in creating movie cartoons, comic strips, web comics or political cartoons.

How much do cartoon artists make?

In case you are a cartoon artist, you can expect to earn around $14 per hour.

Typically, the hourly rate will start from $10.

The artists who have gained a lot of experience in the field can make $33 per hour and more.

Top-level cartoonists can earn nearly $70.000 annually.

Those who are just getting started can make around $22.000 per year.

On average, the annual salary of a cartoon artist is about $30.000.

How much does it cost to become a cartoon artist?

If you want to be the traditional kind of cartoon artist, then all you are going to need is a pencil and a piece of paper.

It is not required to have a formal education, but some companies might be looking for professionals that have years of experience and a degree in fine arts, graphic design or animation.

A bachelor’s degree in computer animation, for example, will cost you around $7.125 per semester.

The books and supplies for those studying character animation will cost approximately $1.300.

But in case you want to go for experimental animation, then be ready to pay $3.000-$3.500 for the necessary supplies.

What is the demand for cartoon artists?

It is no surprise, that we are experiencing a steady decline in newspaper subscriptions.

However, while the Internet is on the rise, there will be more and more job opportunities arising for cartoon artists.

On average, the employment for all occupations in the States is expected to grow by 14% by 2020.

Cartoon artists will experience only an 8% growth, which means that the competition in the field can be extremely serious.

You might want to place your works online or self-publish some of the pieces.

How long does it take to become a cartoon artist?

You might have been into drawing since you were a little boy or girl.

Formal education does not necessarily matter if you want to become a professional cartoon artist.

It is your unique style that can make you a famous cartoonist.

However, if you want to work for a certain animation studio, for example, you might want to obtain a degree.

A bachelor’s degree in animation, graphic or fine arts will take you 4 years to acquire.

Sometimes you are required to submit a portfolio, in case you want to study in art school.

A portfolio showcasing your best works can take quite a while to make.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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