Cartoon Animator Job Description and Job Duties

Sep 10, 2019

Cartoon animators develop singular images into an animated sequence. Most cartoon animators obtain skills and education through a post-secondary degree program, learning about computers, drawing and art history.

Essential Information

Cartoon animators work largely in the motion picture and advertising industries. Their general function is to create drawings, either by hand or with electronic aids, and then use computers to produce the chain of images that shapes the animated film or special effect. They may work with a team of professionals to develop films, webpages, promotional spots and computer artwork. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 more than half of all animators were self-employed. A bachelor's degree or postsecondary certificate in new media, art, computer graphics or a related field is generally required.

Required Education Bachelor's degree or postsecondary certificate in a relevant field of study
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% (Multimedia Artists and Animators)
Median Salary (2018)* $72,520 (Multimedia Artists and Animators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Cartoon Animator: Job Description

Cartoon animators create animated narrative sequences by combining artistic skills with talents in many areas, such as comedy, drama, advertising and computer modeling. Professional cartoon animators usually work in teams where they participate in the storyboard, typesetting and editing process of animation.

Education Requirements

To develop skills and a high level of technical know-how, most cartoon animators have a bachelor's degree or other postsecondary training in animation or new media production. A number of universities, colleges and art schools offer certificate and degree programs that combine art with a concentration in new media.

Typical coursework combines traditional courses in figure drawing with animation and art history lectures. Additionally, specialized computer skills are central in the career of a cartoon animator. Internship programs give cartoon animation students a chance to fine-tune their animating skills and prepare a competitive professional portfolio.


A cartoon animator must be able to collaborate with a team of professionals on storyboards, story development, directing, cinematography and editing. In contrast, they must also be able to work alone for long hours at a time using computer animation or modeling programs to simulate lifelike characters and images. High attention to detail and an in-depth knowledge of computer programs such as computer-aided design software (CAD), Final Cut Studio and Adobe Shockwave Player are essential for any cartoon animator.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of multimedia artists and animators work in the motion picture and video industry. In 2018, the annual median income of salaried multimedia artists and animators was $72,520.

Cartoon animators can obtain essential career skills by completing a bachelor's degree or another form of post-secondary education. They must have strong art and computer skills as well as the interpersonal skills required to work on a team. Many animators are self-employed and the field can expect steady job availability within the next decade.

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