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Occupational Profile

Cartoonist

Cartoonists are artists who create cartoon-style illustrations for a variety of media.

  • Avg. Salary $56,532.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.04
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 6,100
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Artist, Comic Strip Artist, Editorial Cartoonist, Storyboard Artist

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Cartoonist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Graphic Designers
NOC code: 5241.1
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software and image processing, layout and design software; and in determining the medium best suited to produce desired visual effects and most appropriate vehicle for communication

METHODICAL

Interest in precision working to co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual and electronic materials such as Web sites, CD-ROMs and interactive terminals; and in estimating costs of materials and time to complete designs

SOCIAL

Interest in consulting with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communication materials in order to meet their needs; in supervising other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians, in co-ordinating the work of sub-contractors, and in working in a multidisciplinary environment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Cartoonists are probably best known for creating comic strips, comic books and children's animated television shows. However, cartoons appear in and on all types of media including:

  • film
  • television
  • websites
  • newspapers
  • books
  • magazines
  • advertisements
  • promotional materials
  • greeting cards
  • packaging
  • clothes.

Cartoons may tell a story, provide social commentary or reflect public opinion.

In general, cartoonists:

  • get their inspiration from many places and keep a sketch-book or diary of ideas for future use
  • make pencil sketches of their ideas or use computer software to draw cartoons
  • create stories by following a reliable production process that includes developing storyboards, concept characters and environments
  • collaborate with others to develop their ideas into publication-ready form
  • shade and fill in their outlines using a variety of media, such as inks, water-colours, markers, transparent washes and computer programs.

Before finalizing their ideas and initial drawings, cartoonists may also discuss with an editor or publisher for their advice.

Many cartoonists specialize in a particular type of cartoon:

  • Comic strip artists draw a series of pictures that tell a short story. Characters in the strips may or may not speak. Often the original drawings are quite large and are reduced for publication. Increasingly, popular comic strips are appearing as television specials and cartoon shows and on commercial products such as T-shirts and toys.
  • Editorial cartoonists create single cartoons for newspapers or magazines. These cartoons are caricatures or comic figures of well-known people or events. Often, they are political satires commenting on the issues of the day.
  • Storyboard artists at advertising agencies or art studios create animated commercials and animated films. They often prepare the initial drawings that other artists make into finished ads or films. For more information, see the Animator and Illustrator occupational profiles.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Cartoonists work at drawing boards and may sit for long periods of time. They must deal with the constant pressure of deadlines.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Cartoonists need to possess:

  • creativity, imagination and artistic talent
  • self-motivation
  • a curiosity about politics, sports or life in general
  • the ability to draw
  • the ability to take criticism well
  • time-management and project-management skills
  • the ability to meet deadlines.

Editorial cartoonists also need a satirical sense of humour and to be keen, analytical observers of news events.

All cartoonists should enjoy synthesizing information, finding innovative approaches, consulting with clients and taking a methodical approach to tasks requiring precision, such as preparing specifications and estimating costs.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Many successful cartoonists are self-taught. However, formal art training and computer skills are helpful. A strong writing background is also an asset, particularly for strip cartoons. Editorial cartoonists need some knowledge of political history.

To be able to suggest cartoon ideas for advertising that will help promote a client's product or service, cartoonists must keep up to date with publicity and marketing trends.

There are no specialized art programs for cartoonists in Alberta, but post-secondary schools throughout the province offer fine art and visual communications programs that can provide a good foundation for cartooning.

After completing basic art training, many cartoonists start by apprenticing with a well-known cartoonist at an advertising agency, design studio or newspaper. Practice is essential to develop a portfolio of work to show potential employers. Cartoonists are advised to ask for constructive criticism from people in the business.

Developing an individual style that is recognizable helps to build a cartoonist's reputation.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Most cartoonists work on a freelance basis. They may work for:

  • advertising agencies
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • book publishing companies
  • video and film production studios
  • greeting card companies
  • graphic design studios
  • government communications or public relations departments.

Some editorial cartoonists are employed full-time by major newspapers and magazines. Often their work is transmitted electronically to several newspapers at one time.

Cartooning is a very competitive field that is difficult to enter. Freelance cartoonists must spend a lot of time marketing their drawings and ideas to potential employers. They often need to develop a working relationship with 10 or more clients who provide regular work to make a modest income. Some cartoonists also work as illustrators or graphic designers. For more information, see the Illustrator and Graphic Designer profiles.

Cartoonists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5241: Graphic designers and illustrators. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 6,100 Albertans are employed in the Graphic designers and illustrators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 98 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As cartoonists form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for cartoonists.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Cartoonists may earn very little money. But if they become well known, they may earn a great deal. A few very successful cartoonists syndicate their work.

Graphic designers and illustrators
NOC code: 5241

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $14.00 $34.82 $22.22 $21.03
Overall $16.00 $53.52 $29.04 $26.01
Top $19.00 $67.23 $35.03 $31.50

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services
Information, Culture, Recreation
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

12%
12%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

3%
3%

2015 Vacancy Rate

1%
Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Communication Technology
    • Design Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 26, 2017

Association of Canadian Cartoonists website: acc.format.com

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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