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What Can I Do With an Illustration Degree?

by Taylor Slattery | May 22, 2023

Woman sitting on a rock wearing oversized yellow sweater drawing in a sketchbook. There is a white lamp next to her with stars on it.

If you’re considering a degree in illustration, chances are you love drawing—after all, few people get into it for the money. However, one of the things that might keep you on the fence are concerns about job opportunities and whether or not there’s room for career growth, especially now with the rise of AI image generators like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. While the exact ways these tools will come to be used in the creative industry at large remains to be seen, the fact remains that illustration isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

A degree in illustration can open you up to a surprising number of job opportunities in industries you may never have even considered. Much like graphic design, the demand for skilled illustrators is currently in high demand as faceless tech companies whose sole business takes place online look to find ways to humanize their brands and connect with customers on a more personal level. There are a significant number of illustration jobs available for exactly these sorts of tasks right now. Whether that’s working at a design agency to develop custom illustrations as part of brand identities for clients, or working in-house at a company to develop its own unique look, these are great roles you should be sure to keep an eye out for.

Woman wearing a watch and rings with green and nail polish tracing on a lightbox. There is a yellow background.

The ability to help companies differentiate themselves from the competition isn’t just sought after on the branding front, either. Much like working at a branding agency where you’d have the opportunity to craft custom looks for a variety of different clients, advertising agencies would afford you similar opportunities on a campaign basis. Advertising is a highly competitive industry with individual agencies creating pitches to win contracts with larger companies to help them market their products and services. As mentioned earlier, there’s been a recent trend toward the hand-drawn look in response to the increasing usage of the internet to complete daily tasks like shopping, banking, and even healthcare. Illustration is a great way to capture that perfect level of imperfection these companies are looking for, making the present a great time to be an illustrator.

Another industry where illustration is incredibly important is editorial work for magazines and online publications. With attention spans shrinking by the second, illustrators have the all-important task of grabbing potential readers’ eye-balls and generating enough interest to hook them into reading the article. To do this well, editorial illustrators need to be clever. Not only must they create an image that is visually stimulating, but they must interpret the text and find a way to translate its core message into a concise piece of visual communication. With independent publishing on the rise and traditional media mainstays going strong, editorial illustration remains a large source for potential illustration work.


Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.


Sessions College offers accredited fully online degree and certificate programs in Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Advertising, and Photography. Federal financial aid is available for eligible students. Contact Admissions for more information. 

For creatives seeking a thorough training in illustration and graphic design, Sessions College offers accredited fully online illustration certificate and illustration degree programs. Contact Admissions for more information. 

This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

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