Courtroom Sketch Artist

Draw images of court cases when photographs are not permitted.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$19,000 – $90,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Courtroom Sketch Artists do?

A Courtroom Sketch Artist draws pictures of a trial when cameras are barred from the courtroom. Judges may decide to ban cameras for many different reasons. For example, cameras are sometime banned from high profile cases (like ones involving celebrities). And if filming isn’t allowed in the courtroom, a Courtroom Sketch Artist is called in to sketch representations of the leading characters.

First requirement to be a Courtroom Sketch Artist: you can draw. Second requirement: you can stomach true stories of (possibly) serious crimes.

What’s an average day like?

You must arrive a few minutes before a trial starts in order to get a seat where you can have a good view of the trial. Once the trial begins, your sketch your pictures quickly, focusing on facial expressions, gestures, and the general mood. Your illustration should vividly capture the court proceedings.

As a Courtroom Sketch Artist, you should be prepared to attend every part of the trial to record as much of the proceedings as possible. That means you might work for one day or for several months on a single trial.

You usually work freelance and are typically hired by a media outlet. Most courtroom sketches are published in newspapers, posted online, or shown during live news coverage. In very high profile cases, your work might also wind up in books about the trial.

Why does this job matter?

Without your life-life images, the public would never be able to get a glimpse into some of the most important criminal trials. You do important work at the intersection of art and law.


Should I be a Courtroom Sketch Artist?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.

  • How to become a Courtroom Sketch Artist

    Courtroom Sketch Artists often have an Associate's degree or higher. Chart?chd=s:9gooei&chl=no+college+%2838%25%29|certificate+%2820%25%29|associate%27s+%289%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2825%25%29|master%27s+%283%25%29|doctorate+%285%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,38,38
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