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Updated

Cartoonist

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

  • Avg. Salary $56,601.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.13
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook avg
  • Employed 6,800
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Artist, Caricaturist, Comic Strip Artist, Editorial Cartoonist, Storyboard Artist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Graphic Designers (5241.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Graphic Designers and Illustrators (F141) 
  • 2011 NOC: Graphic designers and illustrators (5241) 
  • 2016 NOC: Graphic designers and illustrators (5241) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

44%
44%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Cartoonist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Graphic Designers
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 May 17, 2021

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
  • Develop a recognizable artistic style or iconic central character to focus their stories or ideas around
  • Create stories by following a reliable production process that includes developing storyboards, concept characters and environments
  • Collaborate with media art directors or publishers 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

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 representations of well-known people or events. Often, they are political satires commenting on or expressing an opinion of the issues of the day.
  • Storyboard artists at advertising agencies or art studios contribute to the creation of final animated commercials, computer games and animated films. They often prepare the initial concept drawings and keyframe poses that other artists reference and make into finished ads, games or films. For more information, see the Animator and Illustrator occupational profiles.
Working Conditions
Updated May 17, 2021

Cartoonists work most often in well-lit offices or studios. Self-employed cartoonists often work from home. They work at drawing boards or computers and may sit for long periods of time. They must deal with the constant pressure of deadlines and continually coming up with fresh ideas.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 17, 2021

Cartoonists need:

  • Creativity, imagination and artistic talent
  • A well-developed sense of situational humour or irony
  • Self-motivation
  • A curiosity about current events, politics, sports or life in general
  • The ability to draw anatomy, gestures, mannerisms and facial expressions, often in exaggerated ways
  • 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
  • Being methodical
  • Doing tasks requiring precision, such as preparing specifications and estimating costs

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Graphic designers and illustrators
NOC code: 5241

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 54 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 19, 2020 and Jul 29, 2021.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients' objectives
Prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements
Personal Suitability: Team player
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: Adobe Illustrator
Determine the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: Adobe Suite
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communications materials
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials
Educational Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021

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.

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.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Mount Royal University

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Visual College of Art and Design of Calgary

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

Certification Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 17, 2021

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

  • Advertising agencies
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Book publishing companies
  • Video and film production studios
  • Video game developers
  • 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 in order 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5241: Graphic designers and illustrators occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 116 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated May 17, 2021

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

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 $15.00 $37.96 $23.28 $21.58
Overall $18.00 $53.13 $29.13 $26.93
Top $18.10 $58.85 $33.99 $31.10

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
Educational Services
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
ALL INDUSTRIES
Manufacturing
Information, Culture, Recreation
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

44%
44%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

25%
25%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

5%
5%

Vacancy Rate

3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 17, 2021

Association of Canadian Cartoonists website: acc.format.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 17, 2021. 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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