Medical illustrators are those rare individuals who have both a
demonstrated artistic ability and a detailed knowledge of human and animal
anatomy, as well as knowledge of surgical and medical procedures. They
create graphic representations of medical or biological subjects for use
in textbooks, pamphlets, exhibits, instructional films, civil/criminal
legal procedures, and teaching models. Medical illustrators are
increasingly turning toward technology to help them perform their duties.
They use the most up-to-date computers and graphic design software to
describe and illustrate a variety of complicated medical concepts and
processes. Medical illustrators can even specialize in certain anatomical
areas such as the brain or heart. A major function of the medical
illustrator is assist in education and research. They are often called
upon to draw illustrations or produce three-dimensional models in order to
assist teachers and other medical professionals with difficult biological
concepts. An individual interested in this line of work should be detail
oriented and also be creative enough to communicate their ideas visually.
Medical illustrators may be employed in medical schools, hospitals,
research organizations, publishing companies, advertising agencies,
pharmaceutical manufacturers, or large medical centers with teaching and
research programs. Many medical illustrators are free-lance artists that
contract out for their services.
High School Preparation:
Students interested in a career as a medical illustrator should take high
school courses in art, biology, chemistry, algebra, drawing and design,
English, history, graphic arts, printing, health occupations/medical
professions education, photography, and computer illustration.
In order to become a medical illustrator, a student must have specialized
training in art and the biological sciences. A bachelor's degree combining
art and premedical coursed is usually preferred, followed by a master's
degree in medical illustration. There are only five accredited master's
degree programs in the entire country, and they only accept a limited
number of students. Therefore, an excellent academic record as well as an
outstanding portfolio of your artwork is necessary.
Students interested in medical illustration should contact schools for
information on admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study
Medical illustration is a very small and competitive field. Employment
opportunities for illustrators are expected to grow about as fast as all
other professions. There is a projected growth of between 10% and 25% in
this job market through the year 2010. Medical illustrators will continue
to be utilized in the educational field. As technology changes the way we
educate our students, illustrators will be needed to produce state-of-the
are computer models of biological processes in order to help teachers stay
on the cutting edge. Anyone who enjoys science and is an exceptional
artist should consider a career as a medical illustrator.
Salaries vary greatly depending on education and type of employment.
Average Annual Salary
Association of Medical Illustrators
P.O. Box 1897
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 843-1235
Fax: (785) 843-1274
Guild of Natural Science Illustrators
Post Office Box 652
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, DC 20044
Phone/Fax: (301) 309-1514
Medical Illustrator brochure
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