3D Animation Career Information and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed for a 3D animation career. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Although a bachelor's degree is typically required, it is also possible to begin a career in 3D animation after completion of a certificate program. Fast as average job growth is anticipated in this career field through 2024.

Essential Information

3D animation involves the modeling and rendering of animated characters and environments. A bachelor's degree is usually necessary for entry-level work; however, education options range from certificate to master's degree programs. Portfolio work or a demo reel and strong technical skills are also often necessary for employment.

Required Education Bachelor's degree usually required
Other Requirements Strong technical skills and a portfolio or demo reel often necessary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for multimedia artists and animators
Median Salary (2015)* $63,970 annually for multimedia artists and animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3D Animation Career Information

Professional 3D animators often pursue careers in gaming and film, but opportunities are available in other industries as well. Job titles include concept artist, animator, character animator, storyboard artist, special effects animator, visual effects artist and game designer.

3D Animation in Film

3D animators in the film industry create photo-realistic models and animations for everything from scenery to creatures. Knowledge of acting, lighting, cinematography, storyboarding, animal and human motion, scriptwriting and anatomy are all in the bailiwick of 3D film animators. Jobs in the industry may involve the creation of 3-dimensional models, storyboarding or match moving, which is the art of tracking a camera through a shot to allow 3D models to be inserted with the correct positioning and motion.

3D Animation in Gaming

Another popular career path for 3D animators is in computer and console game production. Nearly all modern electronic games rely on some form of 3D animation. While some of the skill sets required in 3D animation for gaming, like lighting and conveying animal and human motion, are similar to those needed for the film industry, others, such as character design and interactive storytelling, are unique.

3D Animation in Other Fields

3D animation is also used in web design, graphic design and advertising. Career possibilities in these fields vary, but designers generally work on a freelance basis and often need additional knowledge in web programming, graphic art or illustration.

Salary Expectations and Job Outlook

According the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), multimedia artists and animators had a median income of $63,970 in May 2015. While the income for self-employed artists and designers varied greatly, employment among multimedia artists and animators was expected to grow by about 6%.

Education Requirements

Landing a job in 3D animation usually requires a bachelor's degree and demonstrable quality of work. A good demo reel or portfolio is key to being hired. Strong technical skills are also necessary.

Many institutions offer 1- or 2-year certificate programs and associate's degree programs specifically in 3D animation, both online and in classroom settings. Some institutions offer bachelor's degree programs in digital animation, which may include training in 2- and 3-dimensional animation or similar subjects. Master's degree programs in animation are also available from select schools. Many colleges hire professionals directly from the 3D animation industry to serve as faculty. Classes focus on subjects like surface modeling, surface properties, lighting, 3D character creation, set and environment production, rigging and animation, dynamic simulation and animation production.

A 6% job growth rate is expected in the field of 3D animation through 2024. Postsecondary studies vary from certificate programs, to bachelor's and master's degrees. Those who wish to pursue this career path should also develop a strong portfolio highlighting their work.


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