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What You Wanted to Know About a Medical Illustration Career

eye-illustrationMedical Illustration--A Closer Look
Many people are familiar with what illustrators do; they draw and create  images of things, scenes, and concepts for advertising, media, and businesses. Artists who decide to become medical illustrators receive advanced training and education in communications and the life sciences.

Medical illustrators work closely with doctors, scientists, and medical specialists in order to render images for use in research, education, public relations, and patient care. They often perform background research on the topics and subjects they are asked to illustrate.

Medical illustrators confer with science experts to validate illustration concepts  and sometimes observe laboratory techniques and surgery procedures to help in their creative process.

medical-illustratorThe Field of Medical Illustration Is Changing
In the past, medical illustration was primarily focused on anatomical drawings and related needs for the medical and educational community. While this is still an important function of the job it has expanded to other fields due to the rapid growth in science, technology, and medicine.

Medical illustrators have expanded their duties by producing computer generated images and animations to educate the public in health care, medical information, and proactive health maintenance techniques. Lawyers call on medical illustrators to produce images for juries and the court in order to explain complex ideas related to personal injury and malpractice lawsuits.

Hospitals and healthcare agencies use the services of medical illustrators to provide graphics and images for their websites to inform and educate the public on various programs, information, and services.

There are several specialties that are available in this job category such as illustration for:

operating-room
* Surgery
* Veterinary medicine
* Ophthalmology
* Computer animation/three-dimensional models
* Medical publishing
* Pharmaceutical advertising
* Medical-legal work
.

college-students-pen-drawingCareer Training and Education
Some graphic artists start their illustration careers by attending a graphic design school. Many often go on to earn their bachelor's degree in art and premed courses at qualified education centers.

Many medical illustrators have a master's degree from accredited two-year graduate programs in medical illustration.

There are currently several specialized programs in the United States and Canada that are officially accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The number of available positions for these programs are limited and competition for these openings is high.

If you are currently attending or are planning on enrolling at a graphic design college for your career training, check with your college counselor about what you need to do to pursue a career in medical illustration.

people-walking-on-streetThe Job Market for Medical Illustrators
In general, the prospects for artist  jobs is projected to grow approximately 12 percent thorough 2018 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008). Competition for these openings is likely to be high.

Medical illustrators should experience a constant demand for their services due to the relatively small number of professionals in this area of work.

Since medical illustration has a broad career path, the salary range for this job group is varied. In 2006 medical illustrators who worked for universities or institutions made a yearly salary of $44,000 to $55,000 including benefits. Medical illustrators who have extended experience in multimedia, computer graphics, multimedia and animation should command higher salaries.

The mean annual salary for artists and related workers was $51,600 in 2008  (BLS May 2008).


Schools and Colleges offering design degrees:

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Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design
  • Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
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Graphic Design (BS)
  • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
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Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Full Sail University offers online degree programs that are designed for the world of entertainment, media, arts, and technology. Full Sail's approach is centered on real-world industry experience and creative problem solving.
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Graphic Design (AS)
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
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Bachelor of Science, Animation & VFX
  • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
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