Multimedia specialists use computers to work on products that use a mixture of text, sound, graphics, digital video, music and pictures. These could include computer software products, apps, internet websites and DVDs.
Also known as
- Interactive Media Designer/Developer
Multimedia specialists help to create products that use more than one way to communicate information. For example, they might use sound, music, text, 2D and 3D graphics, animation and digital video. They bring these different types of communication together using a computer.
Multimedia specialists work on games, apps, educational software, advertising, websites, film and television. Their products could go on CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, tablets or the internet, for example.
Producing a multimedia product is a team effort. Writers, artists, graphic designers, animators and sound engineers might make the content of individual parts. The multimedia specialist designs or programs a system to bring all these elements together and make them work in the finished product.
Everyone works very closely together under the direction of a producer or project manager. As the work progresses, they attend meetings to discuss and sort out problems. Once the team has written the program, multimedia specialists might test it to identify and fix any errors they have found in the content or program.
Multimedia specialists might design and write web pages, program the links to company databases, or create graphic effects for film studios. Some multimedia specialists produce images for company presentations.
Multimedia specialists need to understand the requirements of discrimination laws so that their websites and other products are accessible for a wide variety of users, for example, people with limited sight.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As a multimedia specialist, you'll need:
- Skills in different areas such as sound, graphic design and IT.
- A strong interest in information technology and programming.
- To be creative and enthusiastic.
- To be a good teamworker; to enjoy working with other experts, including artists, graphic designers and sound engineers.
- Strong communication skills.
- To enjoy solving problems and working on a project from start to finish.
- Good organisational skills to help you to plan your work and to meet deadlines.
- To work well under pressure.
- To keep up to date with new technology and culture.
Pay and Opportunities
Starting salaries can vary. The pay rates given below are approximate.
Multimedia specialists earn in the range of £18,000 - £20,000 a year, rising to £24,500 - £32,000. Higher salaries are possible.
Hours of work
Multimedia specialists usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday, although you might need to do some late finishes as deadlines approach.
Where could I work?
Employers include multimedia publishers, software producers, website design companies, and television and film companies.
Opportunities for multimedia specialists occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. Most opportunities are in London and the South East where there is a high concentration of media agencies.
What's happening in this work area?
The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next ten years. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.
The creative media industry is a major contributor to the nation's economy and, in spite of the recent economic recession, it is expected to grow at a faster rate than the wider economy in the coming years. The main reason for this optimism in growth for the creative media sector is the opening up of new markets and new opportunities globally, as a result of digital communications and globalisation.
The last five years has seen a huge increase in the number of people using social networking websites, both in the home, and at work. These sites have made many more people aware of, and competent in, the use of IT. This has provided the IT industry with a huge boost, and will continue to do so in the future; the use of IT in the home, and at work, is expected to grow.
Job competition is very high, however, and recently there has been an over-supply of potential new recruits leaving education, and looking for work.
Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:
- teamworking skills
- good communication skills
- business skills.
Opportunities occur for experienced multimedia specialists to work on a self-employed, freelance basis - usually on fixed-term contracts.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.
Short-term contract work is found through specialist IT recruitment agencies.
Entry Routes and Training
Many entrants have a degree or HND in, for example, multimedia computing, design or technology. Computer studies and design courses often include multimedia options. Some entrants have qualifications in graphic design.
There are foundation degrees and postgraduate qualifications in multimedia, as well as in computer studies and graphic design.
Employers usually look for evidence of creative ability, for example, a personal website and portfolio of your work. Many employers consider this to be as important as academic qualifications.
Multimedia specialists need to keep updating their skills by going on training courses in the latest multimedia developments, programming languages and design methods.
Multimedia specialists can progress to project manager posts. Some might decide to specialise in an area such as website design or computer games. Some experienced multimedia specialists become self-employed.
For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and Maths at GCSE (grade C or above).
Depending on the course, a science subject might be required at GCSE level. Some degree courses in multimedia computing or multimedia technology might ask for IT or Computing, or a science (for example, Physics) or a technology subject at A level. Courses in multimedia design usually ask for an art and design subject.
Alternatives to A levels include:
- Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
However, course requirements vary so check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Having a portfolio of creative work, including your own personal website, is important. Short training courses or accredited courses in programming languages can be very helpful for people wanting to enter this type of work.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
- 35% of people in occupations such as multimedia specialist are self-employed.
- 20% work part-time.
- 16% have flexible hours.
- 8% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
The Tech Partnership
Skills for business and information technology
Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920
Specialists in graduate careers
Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU
Tel: 020 7565 7900
BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT
Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 0845 3004417