Book Illustrator Career Profile

Do you want to work as a book illustrator?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for your career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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29 April 2024


What is a book illustrator?

Book Illustrators are artists that work alongside authors to produce artwork that will accompany the story in a book.

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Old Illustrations?

Some of the oldest character illustrations are found in Japanese scrolls

Is there money in this career?

Illustrating children's books generates a good US$3 billion per year market

What does a Book Illustrator do?


Art & Design / Business


Book Illustrators use different media to create artwork that authors can use in their books to make the stories more fun to read. Illustrations are created by hand (drawing) or through computer software, and are more commonly found in children’s books, with a varied amount of drawings to bring the message across.

Daily Tasks:

  • Discuss the project with the customer
  • Draw concept art to keep on reworking
  • Finalise drawing
  • Scan artwork for customer
  • Work with art directors of publishing houses
  • Create a digital portfolio (website)
  • Manage administration
  • liaising with editors, authors or designers
  • negotiating contracts and timescales
  • undertaking relevant research and generating ideas
  • promoting and running the business

Where they work:

Environment –

Book Illustrators generally work indoors in a studio or office setup.

Places of Employment –

Most of them are self-employed and design artwork through contracting out to authors directly, or to publishers. Positions are available at publishers for permanent employment.

Average Salary:

Book illustrators earn on average $45,000 per year. This will differ from country to country.


Advancement in the field typically depends on work experience, and whether you are working for an organization. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following:

Intern > Junior Illustrator > Senior Illustrator > Supervisor


The most difficult part is working under short deadlines, and ensuring that the artwork does reflect the story line.

​Future Growth and Possibilities:

The growth of Book Illustrators is around 4% per year, but it has increased more in the digital version of books where authors tend to self-publish their books online, and the increase of online magazines.

3. Which Skills are required?

The skills required for a career as a book illustrator can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship

Career Skills:

  • Artistic skills
  • ​Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Life Skills
Career Skills

4. Which Subjects must I have at School?

These subjects are the ones recognized around the world. The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

5. What will I need to Study?

Minimum Requirements:

​To become an Book Illustrator doesn’t require formal training, but many do go on to study a College Diploma or even a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. Short Courses are essential to learn different techniques.


A good background in art is essential, so be sure to perfect your skills by practicing daily. Basic skills in running a business is just as important.


The duration of College and Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 3 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

​Possible Career Preparation Paths:

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined Career Paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Stepping Stone Career:

Being a book illustrator can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).

You can begin as an intern illustrator after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship:

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior positions) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert.

Join the Book Illustrator Group in STEP 8 to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average entry level of education across the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

6. Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Although not required by law, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills.

Learn more about requirements by joining OZT in STEP 8.

Professional Associations:

7. Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards art and design.

Book Illustrator Icon

8. Join the OZT community

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a book illustrator.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Book Illustrator, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu.

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