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Salary and Career Info for an Animation Artist

Animation artist positions require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and skills required to see if this is the right career for you.

Animation artists produce drawings that, when filmed and played in sequence, give the appearance of movement in movies, TV shows, commercials, games and more.

Essential Information

If you love to draw and can't seem to stop watching cartoons, you might consider pursuing a career as an animation artist. Professionals in this career usually enroll in an art-related bachelor's degree program that includes hands-on project experience. Employers generally seek to hire candidates with a strong portfolio and technical knowledge.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in an art-related field typically required
Other Requirements Portfolio and technical experience usually preferred by employers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for multimedia artists and animators
Mean Salary (2015)* $70,300 annually for multimedia artists and animators

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

Career Information

Traditionally, animation artists or animators created hundreds of slightly different drawings which, when shot with a camera and played in a sequence, gave the appearance of movement in a film. These days, while some studios still use traditional media for animation - such as pencil, ink, clay, or puppets - the industry is trending more towards computer-based digital art, design, and recordings. Motion picture animation studios create films, cartoon shorts, and other imagery using computer animation programs and 3-D modeling software.

Animators can use their skills in several different creative or design industries. While many studios produce motion pictures or television cartoons, others produce works to be used in advertising, software, and video games. In addition, animators can further specialize within their industry and may work on one particular feature of an overall project, such as special effects, lighting, or computer graphics modeling. Most animation artists who desire to fund their own projects work for a studio or motion picture company for a few years in order to establish their names before striking out on their own.

Salary Information and Opportunities for Advancement

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wages for animators and multimedia artists were $70,300 in May 2015. Experienced animators who have worked several years can expect to earn slightly more. With time and project management experience, animators can move on to higher positions, such as director of animation. The BLS reports that the demand for animators is expected to increase 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is as fast as average when compared to all occupations.

When seeking employment, animators may want to consider exploring non-traditional areas of animation; for example, the medical field has an increasing demand for animators to model procedures, human physiological processes and anatomy for medical students. Additionally, animation artists interested in becoming instructors or professors could enroll in a master's degree program in education.

Animation artists can benefit from a degree in an art-related field, and need a strong portfolio to showcase their work to potential employers. They usually need specific training in computer animation to compete effectively for jobs in this field.


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