Multimedia specialists combine design and technical knowledge to create information and
communication technology (ICT) based products that entertain, educate or inform the user.
These include: CD-ROMs; DVDs; websites.
Typical outputs include:
entertainment products, such as computer games;
education and training materials;
advertising and marketing materials;
catalogue databases and public information resources.
When the design is complete, multimedia specialists use authoring software to arrange the files
in a single program (to enable interactivity and navigation through the product content). They
also test and adjust the product to fix any technical problems, and produce documentation
describing the creation, content and processes of files.
Typical work activities
Multimedia projects involve a number of tasks that deliver a mix of media and have a computer
component to integrate them. Software development projects bring together media elements
into an application to run on a delivery platform which can support a combination of text, sound
and images of all kinds, and can control software within a single digital information environment.
They cover both on and offline project management and production and make up the majority of
multimedia projects. Hardware-oriented projects focus on, for example, specifying, introducing
and integrating a delivery platform such as video-conferencing with a bespoke user front end for
Tasks typically include:
meeting with clients to establish their expectations and needs;
advising clients on what is technically possible and producing a proposal including, for
example, the range and scope of the work and realistic timescales and costs;
assembling a development team and keeping them updated on the project;
working-up design ideas using computer-based design packages;
collaborating with other specialists, writers, animators, artists, sound engineers and
liaising with account managers and technical staff on behalf of the client and, where
applicable, ensuring clearance and copyright;
authoring files into a single program;
testing and adjusting final programs;
producing finished design work and presenting final designs to clients;
observing company policy in terms of producing and archiving product documentation as
well as any reports and recommendations;
gaining final sign-off from the client;
agreeing on the upgrading of the product or website with the client.
In designing products, multimedia specialists use a variety of tools. Industry-standard computer
design packages include Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid
audio production software, Adobe Director, Adobe Flash and Flash 3D Animator, and Adobe
Dreamweaver. Using these and other computer packages they are able to incorporate the work
of other specialists, including writers, artists, animators, film-makers and video producers,
programmers and sound engineers, in the final product.
Depending on the complexity of the product, the authoring of files into a single program may be
done by an assistant using hypertext mark up language (HTML), or by a software programmer
using 'object oriented' programming languages such as Java or C++.
Salary and conditions
Range of typical starting salaries: £16,000 - £19,000 rising to £23,000 - £27,000 (salary
data collected Feb 09).
Those with more experience can earn around £30,000 a year (data collected Feb 09).
The IT Jobs Watch website provides details of average salaries offered in IT jobs
Salary levels vary and depend on the company, level of experience and the type of
contract. Some professionals become consultants and can negotiate high fees as well as
commissions and profit shares, depending on their skills level and expertise.
Working hours are generally nine to five, although extra hours, including work at
weekends, may be required to meet deadlines. Some companies offer more flexible working
The work is desk based, usually in an office or studio environment. Many designers work
Many experienced multimedia designers and programmers work as consultants or on
fixed-term contracts. Experienced multimedia professionals may choose to start up their own
Opportunities exist throughout the country, with most vacancies in London and the South
East. Although there is competition for jobs, there is steady demand for professional
Dress is usually smart-casual, although some organisations adopt a casual dress code. A
business suit may be required for meetings with clients.
Travel during the working day usually involves visiting the premises of clients for
meetings, mostly in the local area, although this may occasionally be further afield.
There may be opportunities to work abroad, either in the overseas offices of UK-based
companies, or for an overseas employer (depending on the country, competence in a foreign
language may be required).
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
creative flair and a good understanding of technical processes;
Mac operation skills;
a passion for information technology and good programming skills;
the ability to understand and communicate complex information expressed in numbers,
charts or equations;
the ability to analyse problems and propose solutions;
attention to detail;
desire to work on a project from concept through to closure;
excellent organisational skills to plan projects and meet deadlines;
confidence and enthusiasm;
excellent interpersonal, communication and presentation skills, with the ability to listen,
respond and relate to clients;
teamwork and a willingness to pass on knowledge and expertise to achieve common
Those aiming to become self-employed will also need the following skills:
people management and development;
the ability to self-promote and network;
the ability to brief clients and close deals;
project management, including time management and budgeting.
It is important to build up a strong portfolio of work to demonstrate skills and creativity, either with
a CD-ROM, computer game or through a personal website. Employers may ask to see examples
of relevant work (this could be produced from your coursework, a work placement, or be self-
generated on a home computer). Pre-entry experience is desirable and relevant project work or
placements are an advantage.
Related jobs (see www.prospects.ac.uk for job details)
Advertising account manager
Contacts and resources
Jobs and work
Animation World Network Brand Republic Jobs
British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) Broadband Bananas
Campaign Digital Arts
Computing Careers Computer Weekly
Creative Review CWJobs
Datascope Design Week
East of England Multimedia Alliance (EMMA) Edge
European Multimedia Forum Eye
Freelancers Net Financial Times - Media Companies
Inside Careers: Information Technology http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/it
Intellect International Federation of Multimedia Associations
IT Jobs Watch MacUser
Mad Marketing Week
MediaGuardian Media Week Jobs
New Media Age Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)
Revolution Jobs TARGETjobs IT, GTI Specialist Publishers, Annual
VNU Net Work in Games
UK Web Design Association (UKWDA) YCN
British Computer Society (BCS)
British Film Institute (BFI)
e-skills UK - The Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology
Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)
Skillset: The Sector Skills Council for Creative Media