Digital Media Arts Salary

Three-dimensional cartoons are executed with specialized digital media software

With the digital media revolution of the past few years, professional artists from diverse fields find themselves working with specialized software on computers. Animators, designers and multi-media artists produce interactive websites, videos, motion pictures and traditional printed materials. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that designers with Web animation experience have the best job prospects in the coming years. Digital media artists earn an average annual salary of $62,810, according to a May 2009 BLS survey.

Training and Education

Most digital arts jobs require a bachelor’s degree. There are schools that specialize in digital media, such as the Expression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, California. Many art schools offer programs in design specialties like digital animation, including the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Mass Art) in Boston, Massachusetts. Schools such at the UC Berkeley Extension offer continuing education courses in digital media, with some courses online. The BLS predicts a 14 percent increase in employment for multi-media artists and animators between 2008 and 2018.

Software

Digital media artists must demonstrate expertise in specialized software in order to be employed. In many cases, prospective employers will ask to see samples of digital work. Multi-media artists and animators work with programs such as Flash for interactive Web animation, and Autodesk Maya for 3D animation. Graphic digital designers produce typography, layouts and illustration using InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Web designers create websites with Dreamweaver. These are leading examples of the dozens of digital media software programs on the market. Most programs can be downloaded for a 30-day free trial.

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Salary by Industry

The highest-paying industry for digital media artists is technical and trade schools at $72,830 per year, but there are only 200 jobs in the field. The motion picture industry is the top employer with 7,720 jobs at an average salary of $70,960. Digital artists working in advertising and public relations earn a bit less at $57,630 per year. These BLS figures are from May 2009.

Salary by Geographic Area

Average salaries in the digital media field vary widely by geographic area. Most of the jobs are concentrated in media centers where the pay is high, but so is the cost of living. California digital artists enjoy an average salary of $76,010 with 9,440 jobs in the state, while New York artists earn considerably less at $62,150 per year. Washington State digital artists earn an average annual salary of $64,840, while Arkansas digital artists earn $61,340 per year. Salary figures are from the May 2009 BLS survey.