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Career summary

Cartoonists draw images to express ideas.

Cartoonists create images to convey an idea. Some cartoonists use original ideas and others use current news events to inspire their drawings.

Cartoonists prepare images for various formats, including:

Cartoonists discuss their ideas with editors or producers. They make sketches and models to submit for approval. They make changes to drawings as necessary.

Cartoonists use pens, crayons, paints, and other materials to create designs. They work on paper, acetate, or Bristol board. Animators also use computer programs to color images. Cartoonists use color and shape patterns to create mood and dramatic effects.

Comic strip animators tell short stories or jokes with a series of cartoons. Using frames, or individual pictures, they produce comic strips for newspapers and comic books. Some comic strips are in black and white and others are in color.

Editorial cartoonists draw pictures based on daily news events. They often draw pictures of politicians and use satire to make a point. Newspapers and magazines usually print these cartoons in the editorial section.

Some cartoonists work for advertising agencies. They draw cartoons that show how a scene or commercial will look. If the client or creative director likes the idea, it is produced using real actors.

Related careers

This career is part of the Arts, Audio/Visual Technology, and Communications cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a cartoonist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most cartoonists attend art school or take art classes. Training in computers is also required. Cartoonists usually have a bachelor's degree in animation, graphic design, or fine arts.

Work experience

You develop drawing skills for cartooning through practice. Look for opportunities to showcase your talent. For example, draw for your school or community paper. You could also create drawings for special events and enter contests.

On-the-job training

Entry-level jobs for cartoonists are very rare. Cartoonists are usually freelancers who work when they can find a market for their art. They sell cartoons to newspapers and magazines. They may also sell cartoons for greeting cards.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many cartoonists are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Other resources

National Cartoonists Society (external link)
PO Box 592927
Orlando, FL 32859-2927
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster