What They Do:
According to ExploreHealthCareers.org :
“A medical illustrator is a professional artist with extensive training in medicine, science, communication, and technology. They create visual material to help record and disseminate medical, biological and related information. Medical illustrators have the medical and scientific knowledge to grasp complex scientific information, parse it down, and transmit the essence in a succinct visual message that is accurate, educational, and beautiful.
Medical illustration is a relatively exclusive field: although the need for their services is great, there is just a small cadre of these highly specialized artists in practice. The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) estimates a total of just 1,200 Medical Illustrators in all of North America.”
According to The Association of Medical Illustrators:
“The majority of medical illustrators in the profession have a master's degree from an accredited two-year graduate program in medical illustration. There are currently four programs in the United States and one in Canada that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Each program accepts 16 or fewer students each year, so entrance into the schools is very competitive.
Course work varies somewhat from program to program, but all include a combination of basic science courses in anatomy, pathology, microanatomy, physiology, embryology, and neuroanatomy, along with specialized applied art courses such as surgical illustration. Other classes include color theory, instructional design, photography, interactive media development, 3-D modeling and web design, along with traditional drawing and computer applications.
Most programs require master's thesis projects and may have optional courses available in specialty fields such as advanced computer and video graphics, endoscopic illustration, or patient prosthetics.
An increasing number of medical illustrators are choosing to obtain PhD degrees in related fields of science or education, particularly those working in academic settings.”
What They Make:
According to the Association of Medical Illustrators, "The median salary for a medical illustrator is $62,000 and can range up to $100,000. Those in supervisory and creative director positions earn a median of $85,000 and up to $175,000 (2013 AMI survey data). About 46% of salaried illustrators supplement their income with freelance work."
Where They Work:
Medical illustrators can work for medical schools, large academic health centers, hospitals, clinics, medical legal firms, publishing companies, research institutions, veterinary schools, or medical education companies. Some medical illustrators might also start their own businesses.
Medical illustrators do work closely with physicians and scientists.
The job outlook for medical illustrators is excellent. As new treatments and technologies come about, the need for accompanying illustrations and animations increases as well.
Updated November 2018