Career Information for a Degree in Animation

Sep 24, 2019

Animation degree programs typically cover multimedia design, 3D modeling, animation and character design. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for animation graduates.

Animator, graphic designer and art director are three categories of professionals that can get started with a degree in animation. A degree program in animation prepares students with courses in design, modeling and web programming, and allows students to choose specialty tracks and create a work portfolio to show potential employers.

Essential Information

In the digital age, visual storytelling and communication are accomplished through the use of computers to create animated characters, interesting graphics and realistic special effects. Graduates of degree programs in animation, video graphics and special effects often go on to create digital worlds and interactive media as animators, graphic designers or art directors.

Career Animators and Multimedia Artists Graphic Designers Art Directors
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree; Many also possess a Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% 3% 1%
Average Salary (2018)* $78,230 $54,680 $104,590

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Careers Options

There are a multitude of career opportunities available to graduates of degree programs in animation, video graphics and special effects. They may work in advertising, publishing, web design or the movie industry. Many go on to become animators, graphic designers and art directors.


Animators work in a wide range of industries to express stories or marketing concepts through visual media, animation, digital graphics or special effects. They are generally expected to have freehand art skills as well as the ability to use computers and other technology to create storyboards, 3D models and computer simulations. Animators who work outside the entertainment industry are typically employed by advertising firms or related businesses to communicate promotional messages.

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the employment of multimedia artists and animators is expected to increase 4% for the decade 2018-2028 ( These workers earned $78,230 on average, according to the BLS in May of 2018.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers use a combination of artistic skill and technical abilities to communicate messages through visual media. These workers design advertisements, magazine layouts, fliers, posters, brochures and many other products used by companies and organizations to express messages or reach potential customers. Graphic designers combine knowledge of color, composition, graphics and type to arrange design elements in a variety of print, visual and digital media.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS predicted that graphic designer jobs are projected to increase 3% for the years 2018-2028. Graphic designers earned average annual wages of $54,680 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Art Directors

Art directors are usually experienced artists, graphic designers or animators who manage art staff and guide the direction of visual media projects. They work in motion picture or television production companies, advertising agencies, commercial design firms and print media, overseeing the planning, budgeting and production of creative work. Art directors also manage accounts, approve layouts, communicate with creative services staff and work closely with clients during project development.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS estimated that art directors are expected to see a 1% increase in employment between 2018 and 2028. In May 2018, art directors earned an average annual wage of $104,590.

Overview of a Degree in Animation, Video Graphics and Special Effects

Degree programs in animation, video graphics and special effects include instruction in a multimedia design, editing and digital communications. These programs may be housed in schools' communications departments, and many offer concentrations or tracks that allow students to choose media specialties. Students learn about subjects like 3D modeling, web programming, character design, animation and multimedia design. Many programs entail completion of final projects or portfolios, which many graduates use to demonstrate proficiency to potential employers.

Animation program graduates can find work in a variety of industries, such as media and communication, and in many different job roles. Animators can work on marketing concepts while graphic designers focus on visual communications. Art directors usually have more experience in the field and oversee teams on media projects.

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