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Getting Ready for a Career in Animation and Visual Effects

Although many people might list art or drawing as one of their favorite hobbies, you may not realize that it can be more than just a pastime. If you have the drive, talent and determination to turn art into a career, there are countless possibilities to do so.

Animators are needed in many industries to create films, graphic designs and video games, and you could find a fulfilling and suitable career creating these multimedia art designs.

Before you start browsing for your new career, discover what it takes to become an animator, what degrees and formal education might be required, where you can find work, what the average salaries are for animators and what kind of job growth is predicted for this field in the future.

Quick Facts: Animation Industry
Median Pay:   $63,630 per year | $31 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Bachelor's degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   64,000

Animation Occupations:

  • Multimedia artists and animators$63,630

Types of Jobs Completed by Animators

To some, animators might have the dream job of doodling, drawing their favorite cartoon characters all day and exploring their artistic side. However, it is important to remember that this job is like any other, and you will have specific tasks that need to be accomplished to meet the approval of your boss.

While every position will be a little different depending on your specialty and the company you work for, some of the daily tasks of animation professionals could include creating business graphics or logos with computer software, developing timelines for project completion with peers or clients, developing storyboards for a cartoon show or an animated film or even editing existing artwork for an updated version of an iPhone application or video game.

The work can be very fulfilling if you enjoy art, but long days and tight deadlines are certainly not uncommon in the field.

Necessary Education For This Career

While it is not impossible to work in animation without a college degree, it is very unlikely. Hiring managers want potential candidates to have natural artistic ability, but they will also be looking for discipline, work ethic and a background knowledge of various software programs and art styles, all of which can be learned through a college degree.

Generally, a four-year bachelor's degree is the best choice, and this degree can be earned online or through a traditional college campus. While the exact major is up to you, some of the most common choices for art and animation professionals include that of fine art, computer graphics or animation & visual effects.

While earning a bachelor's degree in animation, some of the relevant course topics you can expect to find on your syllabus are animation techniques, the history of animation, graphics, editing, creating storyboards, figure drawing, digital cinema production and visual effects.

Characteristics of the Most Successful Animators

At the root of becoming a successful animator is the combination of natural artistic talent, an eye for design and a college degree to round out your knowledge in the field. However, there are a number of additional characteristics and abilities shared by many of the top animators in the industry.

These include excellent computer skills, which are necessary when creating graphic designs, the ability to communicate well with others, which helps to ensure that you deliver a final product everyone is happy with, and time management skills, which are necessary so that you can stay on task, meet deadlines and avoid disappointing a boss or your clients.

Average Salary For Animators

One of the key things that most aspiring animators want to know is how much they can expect to make in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average multimedia artists and animators in the United States earn a median salary of $61,370 each year.

The highest-paying industries that employ animators are the video and motion picture industries, but software publishers are not far behind. For the field of art, these salaries are on the upper end and can become quite lucrative after several years of experience.

Job Growth Predictions for this Field

While art lovers might immediately grab onto the idea of becoming an animation professional or a multimedia artist, it is vital to look beyond the next few years and see what kind of job growth is forecast for the field. You want to be able to secure a job after graduation, and you also want to be able to keep that job for years to come without a threat to your financial stability or job security.

According to the BLS, there is a predicted six percent growth for this field over the next decade, which translates to the opening of approximately 4,300 new positions. Many of these new opportunities will be in areas like hyper-realistic video games and graphics for mobile devices.

Places Where Animators Might Work

If you are an independent person who prefers to be your own boss, then you might appreciate that roughly 57 percent of animators and multimedia artists are self-employed. This means that they either run their own animation business or that they freelance and accept projects from large companies that can be completed from home or according to their own schedules.

Other places where animators might be able to find employment include software publishing companies, advertising companies, marketing firms, video game design businesses or even film studios. With such a varied array of careers that animators can pursue, there exists the opportunity for you to tailor your position to your personal skills and preferences within the field.

Similar Careers to Consider

Aspiring animators might be happy to learn that there are other similar art and design occupations available to choose from. Along with working directly as animators, degree holders in this field might go on to become successful art directors, fashion designers, graphic designers, industrial designers or even fine artists.

If you are someone who is passionate about art, there may be a way for that passion to translate to a viable, well-paid career. Animators are in high demand among video game, computer software, film and design companies, and with a degree, dedication and artistic ability you could become one of the many successful animation professionals working all around the world.

Explore your options to earn your animation degree online.