3D Design Careers: Job Duties, Salary and Training Information

A 3D design program teaches students to create images through the use of computer graphics. Find out about these programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

A career in 3-D design requires a bachelor's degree, typically in computer graphics, art, graphic design or web design. It may be possible to enter this career field with an associate's degree, although some employers prefer a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

The duties of a 3-D design artist generally involve using computer software to create 3-dimensional visual images. Degree programs for 3D designers are typically available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Students can concentrate in web design, animation, graphic design and illustration. Many programs include a culminating project and/or an internship.

Career Titles 3D Animators (Multimedia Artists and Animators) 3D Graphic Designers (Graphic Designers) Web Designers (Web Developers)
Education Requirements A bachelor's degree in computer graphics or art A bachelor's degree in graphic design An associate's or bachelor's degree in web design
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 1% 27%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $63,970 $46,900 $64,970

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

3-D design is a broad artistic field used for a variety of projects. Possible careers include 3-D animator, 3-D graphic designer and Web designer. Many industries utilize 3-D design, and employment demand is expected to increase.

3D Animators

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), multimedia artists and animators use computer programs to create 3D graphics, visual effects and animation for a variety of industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2015, multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual salary of $63,970, with most earning between $36,930 and $113,600 (www.bls.gov).

3D Graphic Designers

Through the use of computer software, like Adobe Photoshop, graphic designers develop visual concepts that convey messages. For instance, they create product illustrations, website designs and company logos. Employment options for graphic designers were expected to increase by 1% during the 2014-2024 decade. The median salary for these specialists was $46,900 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Web Designers

Web developers design websites and are responsible for the overall appearance of the web pages. In addition to writing code and creating applications, they utilize graphics to design a website that fits their clients' needs. Faster than average growth of 27% is expected through the 2014-2024 decade. The median salary for web developers was $64,970 in May 2015, stated the BLS.

Job Duties in 3D Design

The job duties of a 3D design artist vary by specific career. For example, 3-D animators use computers and specialized software, such as Maya and MotionBuilder, to add movement to characters and objects. A 3-D graphic designer also uses specialized software, such as CINEMA 4D, to create life-like images. These images are used to promote brands and products, illustrate books and magazines or demonstrate a process, such as may be found in an online instruction manual. Similarly, Web designers incorporate 3-D imagery to Web content to add utility and appeal. 3-D designers also work in the areas of medical and scientific imaging, engineering and broadcasting.

Training Information

Most careers in 3-D design require a bachelor's degree and knowledge of art and design principles. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) generally requires core art courses in drawing, design and art history. Some colleges offer concentrations in graphic design, animation, video game design, Web design or illustration. These programs provide instruction in visual communication, multimedia, typography, 3-D imaging, digital photography, Web animation and illustration.

Students are often required to complete a senior thesis or capstone project in digital imaging and 3-D design. They also have the opportunity to develop a professional physical or Web-based portfolio to use to market themselves in the workplace after graduation. Completion of an internship is often a key component of the program, helping students to gain the work experience that employers highly value.

A career in 3-D design can involve working as a 3-D animator, 3-D graphic designer or web designer. While there are plentiful job opportunities for web designers expected between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS, jobs in graphic design and animation will be very competitive.

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