Medical Illustrators and Photographers


Employment Prospects


Approximately 111,620 fine artists, including medical illustrators, and 49,560 photographers, including medical photographers, are employed in the United States. Both medical illustrators and photographers work at hospitals, medical centers and schools, veterinary schools, academic institutions, and Web, multimedia, and animation firms. Medical legal or law firms, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, publishers of medical and scientific textbooks, and advertising agencies also employ illustrators and photographers.

Starting Out

Graduates of medical illustration programs should develop a portfolio of their work to show to prospective employers or clients. Most schools offer career counseling and job placement assistance to their graduates. Job ads and employment agencies are also potential sources for locating work. Likewise, aspiring medical photographers should assemble a professional portfolio of their best photos to show potential employers.

Medical illustrators and photographers can also find job placement assistance with the Association of Medical Illustrators and the BioCommunications Association. Beginning illustrators and photographers should consider joining one of these professional associations not only for job leads, but also to meet other workers in the field and stay on top of trends and advancements in the industry.

Advancement Prospects

After an illustrator or photographer gains experience, he or she will be given more challenging and unusual work. Those with strong computer skills will have the best chances for advancement. Illustrators and photographers can advance by developing skills in a specialized area, or even starting their own business.

Individuals who work for large hospitals or teaching institutions can become managers of media and communications departments. They can also go into teaching in colleges and universities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Tips for Entry

Begin developing a portfolio of your work so that you are ready to begin looking for jobs once you graduate, and be sure to include only your best work.

Create your own Web site that showcases your medical illustrations or photographs and advertises your services.

Participate in the Association of Medical Illustrators' mentor program to develop your professional skills and make industry contacts.

Read The Journal of Biocommunication ( and the Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine ( to learn more about the field.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings: and