Multimedia specialists use their creative and technical skills to design and develop multimedia applications, systems and products that are used to entertain, educate, persuade or inform the user
As a multimedia specialist, you'll bring together text, graphics, digital animation, video, photography, audio and virtual reality to create a range of multimedia products that can be delivered on a range of platforms, including:
- gaming devices
- mobile phones
The mix of media may vary, but each project has in common a computer component integrating all the parts.
When the design is complete, you'll use authoring software to arrange the files in a single program, to enable interactivity and navigation through the product content. You'll test and adjust the product to fix any technical problems and produce documentation describing the creation, content and processes of files.
Job titles vary and it's important to check job descriptions carefully to make sure that the role covers integrating different media.
As a multimedia specialist, you'll need to:
- meet with clients to establish their expectations and needs
- advise clients on what is technically possible and produce a proposal including, for example, the range and scope of the work and realistic timescales and costs
- work with drawings, sketches, models or written instructions to design the product
- create design ideas using computer-based design packages such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, After Effects, Dreamweaver and Animate CC, Apple Final Cut Pro X and Avid
- collaborate with other specialists, including writers, animators, artists, film-makers and video producers, programmers and sound engineers, and incorporate their work into the final product
- author the files into a single program using HTML or by a software programmer using 'object oriented' programming languages, such as Java or C++
- test and adjust final programs
- produce finished design work and present final designs to clients
- liaise with account managers and technical staff on behalf of the client and, where necessary, ensure clearance and copyright
- observe company policy in terms of producing and archiving product documentation, as well as any reports and recommendations
- gain final sign-off from the client
- agree on the upgrading of the product or website with the client
- provide guidance to less-experienced designers
- supervise other members of the design team.
- Salaries range from around £21,000 to £24,000, rising to £28,000 with experience.
- Senior multimedia specialists can earn from around £32,000 to in excess of £50,000, with the highest salaries usually found in London.
Salary levels depend on the sector you work in, your employer, your location, level of experience and the type of contract.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are generally 9am to 5pm, but you may need to work extra hours, evenings or weekends on occasion to meet deadlines. Some companies offer flexible working arrangements.
What to expect
- The work is desk based, usually in an office or studio environment. Many designers work from home.
- Experienced multimedia designers and programmers can work as consultants or on fixed-term contracts. Alternatively, you may choose to start up your own company.
- Opportunities exist throughout the country, with many vacancies concentrated in London and the South East, as well as in other major cities in the UK.
- Travel during the working day usually involves visiting clients' premises for meetings. You may need to stay away from home overnight if visiting clients or offices out of your local area.
- There may be opportunities to work abroad, either in the overseas offices of UK-based companies or for an overseas employer.
You'll typically need a relevant degree or diploma qualification, or a strong portfolio of experience, to work as a multimedia specialist. Relevant subjects may include:
- business information systems
- computing and computer science
- creative music technology
- film making, digital photography and digital media
- games technology
- graphic and media design
- multimedia/interactive technology/design/animation
- software development/engineering
- web development
- 3D design.
Many professionals have done training in both design and technology-related subjects such as animation, photography and computer programming. This combination helps you develop a set of skills to integrate text, sound and visual elements within a digital environment.
Course titles and content vary so you'll need to do your research to make sure the content of your course matches the multimedia career you wish to follow.
You don't need a postgraduate qualification to become a multimedia specialist. However, postgraduate study in design, computing or technology can be useful, particularly if your degree is in a non-relevant subject. Check the course content for the balance between design and technology skills. Search postgraduate courses in multimedia design.
You can also gain professional qualifications through shorter courses, in topics such as communication and information technology, artwork imaging, website software and software development.
- creativity and a good understanding of technical processes in order to follow a brief and meet the project's requirements
- a passion for information technology and good programming skills
- a high level of competency in using a range of relevant software applications
- operation skills in the use of specific operating systems such as macOS, Linux or Windows
- excellent interpersonal, communication and presentation skills, with the ability to listen, respond and relate to clients - explaining things clearly to people who may not be very familiar with multimedia products
- good organisational skills to plan projects and meet deadlines
- teamworking skills and a willingness to share knowledge and expertise to achieve common goals
- the ability to understand and communicate complex information expressed in numbers, charts or equations
- a problem-solving approach to work and the ability to work well under pressure
- the ability to manage your own workload and conflicting priorities
- project-management skills
- the motivation to keep up to date with technological developments and to work on a project from concept through to closure
- skills for running a business, including self-promotion and networking - if you're aiming to become self-employed.
It's vital that you build up a strong portfolio of work or a show reel to demonstrate you have practical experience of creating multimedia content. Relevant project work or paid or voluntary placements will help develop your skills and allow you to build up a network of contacts.
You can show examples of your work to employers that have been produced from your coursework, a work placement or self-generated on a home computer. These examples should show your ability to produce a range of multimedia content, including illustrations/animations, video content and audio.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.
There are opportunities with a range of employers across all employment sectors as most companies use multimedia content to promote their products and services, and to encourage user interaction, engagement and loyalty.
Typical employers include:
- advertising and marketing companies
- computer games and entertainment companies
- educational and business organisations producing training materials
- engineering and manufacturing companies
- local and central government departments
- publishing firms
You could also work in technical departments of large organisations that have in-house websites and multimedia departments.
There are also many opportunities in the IT industry, working for:
- computer manufacturers
- internet service providers (ISPs)
- IT consultancies
- software development companies
- telecommunications firms.
Look for job vacancies at:
Employers will expect you to be familiar with industry-standard computer design packages. You'll pick up more advanced packages as you use them and via online tutorials. Most training takes place on the job, although your employer may fund short courses in various aspects of multimedia design.
Some employers offer the chance to gain IT skills through graduate training programmes in areas such as programming or web development.
As skills and knowledge requirements change very quickly in multimedia, you'll need to keep up to date with new technological developments. You'll typically learn from your colleagues and peers, especially those who are working in the role you would like to move into next.
Details of media and multimedia courses, including animation, computer games and interactive media, are available at ScreenSkills - Education & training. Professional qualifications for multimedia specialists are also available from the BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT).
With experience, you can work your way up to senior designer/studio manager positions. You may need to change employer to gain wider experience or promotion and salary increases.
Alternatively, you could use your skills to move into other areas of IT, including:
- management roles - such as project manager, leading a team of specialists, or account manager, with increased client contact
- technical roles - for example in computer programming, applications development or website management
- creative roles - such as art director or website/CD content writer.
While larger organisations may provide more opportunities for promotion to supervisory and management positions, smaller firms often allow a greater degree of responsibility at an earlier stage in your career. They may also provide the opportunity to gain skills and experience across a range of specialisms and in different areas of the business more quickly.
There are also opportunities to lecture in further or higher education.
As an experienced multimedia specialist, you could become self-employed, working on a contract or consultancy basis and building up your own client base.