Cartoon Animation Career Information and Employment Outlook

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cartoon animator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and special skills needed to find out if this is the career for you.

Cartoon animators create animation and visual effects for video games, movies, and other forms of media. Entry level work as a cartoon animator requires a bachelor's degree, although a small number of employers may accept a high school diploma or technical certificate. The following article details the educational requirements and job outlook information for a cartoon animator.

Essential Information

Cartoon animators create animations through a series of pictures that make them come alive. Those interested in having a career in cartoon animation should have strong artistic and imaginary abilities. Training in the artistic and technical skills needed to work in the industry can be gained through formal education, such as a bachelor's degree program, but not all employers require a degree. Additional training can be found at some community colleges and technical schools.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 4%* for multimedia artists and animators
Median Salary (2018) $72,520* for multimedia artists and animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cartoon Animator Career Information

A cartoon animator creates graphic images for animated movies, television shows, video games and commercials. Animators create moving images through a series of pictures that change slowly over a sequence. Drawing skills are an important part of this field, particularly the ability to draw from life, rather than to simply draw an object accurately. Cartoon animators must have a strong grasp of what makes a picture visually appealing and understand the way people and objects interact with one another. This allows them to put their drawings together with storylines, soundtracks and special effects.

There are several specialties that make up a cartoon animation team. Generally, an entry-level cartoon animator works as an in-between animator, drawing the background and less important pieces of a scene. Animators work their way up the career ladder through various positions, such as character animator, lighting specialist, texture artist, compositor, lead animator and art director.

A bachelor's degree in art, multimedia or animation is highly desired, but not required by employers. Postsecondary coursework includes classes in 2D animation, 3D animation, computer animation, traditional animation, game design, visual effects and more. Other courses, such as sculpting, staging, choreography, history, geography and life sciences, teach students to create an animated world with lifelike characters.

Employment Outlook

The majority of animators work in either the motion picture or video industries. Employment also is available in advertising, computer systems design and Web design. There is a growing demand for cartoon animators in engineering, scientific research and medical research.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for multimedia artists and animators are expected to increase 4% from 2018-2028 ( This growth is fueled by the public's demand for more and better realistic video games, 3D animated movies and television special effects. However, fewer employment opportunities will be available in the U.S. because more animation work is being done overseas. The median annual salary of animators in 2018 was $72,520. The highest 10% of animators earned more than $124,310 that year.

Cartoon animators usually work within a specific medium, such as movies or video games, and most utilize computer technology to develop their animations. A bachelor's degree in art, multimedia or animation is highly sought after by employers, but post-secondary coursework in a related field can be acceptable to some employers. Job growth in this field may be slow in the U.S. because animation work is increasingly being done overseas.

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