Animation University and College Degree Program Information

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Animation has evolved from the early days of Walt Disney. Today it is not only used in blockbuster films and network television, but in video games, Web pages and even mobile phone applications. Most often, individuals interested in pursuing a career in this field first obtain an associate's or bachelor's degree in animation. They might also consider programs in graphic design or art. Students in animation programs learn to use modern software as well as traditional techniques to create moving graphics and special effects. Some schools might offer courses in these programs online. Continuing education is important for computer animators, as they will need to keep up with technological advances in the field.

A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for admission to a two-year associate's or four-year bachelor's animation degree program. Some schools may require previous coursework in graphic design. Familiarity with computers, art classes and artistic ability are beneficial.

Associate's Degree in Animation

Animation programs at the associate degree level are offered by many community colleges and technical schools. These degree programs are a combination of technology and art and are commonly offered through school departments dealing with visual arts, digital media or design technology. Students in such programs learn the basic technology skills necessary for entry-level positions creating animation for web, multimedia and game design industries.

Students learn the technical skills, including animation software, necessary to create computer animation. The curriculum may also cover basic design principles and story development. Topics include:

  • Drawing fundamentals
  • Basic animation
  • Three-dimensional animation
  • Web design
  • Game design

Bachelor's Degree in Animation

At the bachelor's level, an animation degree - often offered as a Bachelor of Fine Arts - prepares students for professional careers in a number of fields which use animation. Some programs provide a focus in an area such as game design or film animation. Programs are commonly often offered through a school's fine art or art and design department.

Program curriculum may vary based on the area of focus. Most programs emphasize the use of technology in creating animation. However, some programs still teach traditional drawing techniques. Courses might include:

  • Introduction to film
  • History of animation
  • Character development
  • Storyboarding
  • Three-dimensional modeling

Popular Career Options

The largest employer of animators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, is the motion picture and video industry. Others animators find employment in advertising, computer systems design or software publishing. Graduates of animation programs might find job such as :

  • Web animator
  • Game designer
  • Graphic designer
  • Special effect animator
  • Multi-media designer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment for animators and other multimedia artists is expected to grow by 4% during the period from 2018-2028, according to the BLS. The need for animators is increasing as consumers demand more realistic movies, videos and special effects. Mobile technology companies are hiring more animators as well. The median annual salary for multimedia animators and artists was $75,270 in 2019.

Continuing Education

Although an associate's degree may be sufficient for entry-level positions in animation, individuals should consider continuing on to earn a four-year degree. A bachelor's degree in animation will further develop technical and artistic skills and may be preferable to many employers.

To remain competitive in the job market, animators need to keep up with new technologies and current trends in the industry. Opportunities for continuing education may be found through professional organizations, such as the international Society for Animation Studies or the California Animation Guild's American Animation Institute.

Those with an interest in creating animations may earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in animation to qualify for an animation career in a number of industries including film, advertising, T.V., video games other other multimedia industries.

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