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Animated Movies Director: Job Outlook & Career Info

Learn about a career as an animated movie director. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for Animated Movies Directors

An animated movie director collaborates with designers, cinematographers, editors, musicians and animators, in addition to directing the voice actors who make the film come to life. While an animated movie director may not contribute to the animation of the film, they are typically skilled animators themselves, experience that is needed to coordinate several teams of animators and produce a cohesive animated feature. Animated movie directors are also responsible for completing a production on time and within budget. Common duties include choosing scripts and overseeing rewrites, auditioning and hiring voice actors and crewmembers, and creating an overall vision for the production. During filming, animated movie directors ensure that the camera work, lighting, sound and acting adhere to this vision.

Animated movie directors typically work very long hours, including weekends and holidays. They may spend extended periods of time on location where the film is shot. Due to the short-term nature of the work, many animated movie directors have periods of unemployment while searching for their next projects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2016, roughly 16% of producers and directors, including animated movie directors, were self-employed.

Education No college education is required, but most hold a bachelor's degree
Job Skills Creative thinking, stress management, leadership, storytelling, technological ability
Median Salary (2017)* $71,620 (for all producers and directors)
Career Outlook (2016-2026)* 12% (for all producers and directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

While there are no formal training programs for film directors, most directors earn bachelor's degrees in areas such as acting, writing and communication. Animated movie directors may also pursue programs in art, animation or computer graphics to learn the fundamentals of animated filmmaking. Modern animation techniques rely heavily on computer-generated imaging, or CGI, so it's important to be familiar with current technologies. Training in the fundamentals of art history and visual art is equally important.

Required Skills

The BLS reported that animated movie directors typically must have the following qualities:

  • Passion for the art of animation
  • Leadership qualities, since directors must inspire and manage a large number of artists and technicians
  • Creative thinking skills
  • Ability to tell a compelling story
  • Technologically minded personality
  • Ability to handle high levels of stress and career instability

Employment and Salary Outlook

Earnings for movie directors depend on many factors, including the box office success of their films, but the BLS estimated that the median annual salary for producers and directors, including animated movie directors, was $71,620 in 2017. Employment in the field was expected to grow 12% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

In the most famous animation studios, the job market is more competitive, and those just beginning their career may find it difficult to break into. Small or independent studios provide better entry-level opportunities. Overall, candidates with industry experience, such as directors' assistants, actors, writers and film editors, should have the best prospects.

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