Medical illustrators earnings vary according to the experience and ability of the artist, the type of work, and the area of the country where one works. In general, medical illustrators with diverse skills and more responsibility for concept development command higher salaries.
The average starting salary in a university or institutional setting for a medical illustrator is around $44,000 to $55,000 per year plus benefits. Those who specialize in animation and multimedia typically earn a higher salary.
Mid-level salaried medical illustrators (6-15 years) usually earn between $54,000 to $74,000 per year. Administrators and those with faculty appointments may earn between $70,000 to $150,000 per year.
About 43% of salaried illustrators often supplement their income with freelance work. Self-employed (freelance) medical illustrators may have set prices for particular kinds of art, but most establish fees based on usage rights granted and project complexity.
Sole proprietors earn on average $65,000 and up to $225,000 per year. Although the earnings of self-employed medical illustrators may be more erratic than those of salaried illustrators, the highest earnings are generally made by those whose art and professionalism keep them in constant demand.
In addition to earnings from salary or freelance projects, some medical artists have royalty, coauthor, and reuse arrangements with publishers and clients that can provide an additional, and sometimes significant, source of income.