Animation certificate programs (1 year) cover the basics of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional computer animation. Such programs can provide individuals with the technical skills needed for careers as cartoonists, animators, graphic designers and more, as they will master character renderings and movement. Although some offer regular drawing and sketching, the bulk of cartoon design today is done through computer software programs.
There are several undergraduate designations, including a Bachelor of Science in Digital Design and Animation, a Bachelor of Science in 3-Dimensional Animation and a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Animation. Most have the goal of teaching new and interactive types of animation by combining traditional drawing techniques with technology. These bachelor's programs usually last 4 years. Prerequisites for these programs may include a high school diploma or equivalent as well as a portfolio of previous work.
Although there are a few classroom lectures involved, most courses within an animation certificate program are offered in computer laboratories and involve the completion of hands-on assignments. Courses included are:
- Digital imaging
- Computer graphics
- Portfolio development
Bachelor's Degree in Animation
Courses at the bachelor's level are a little more complex than those in a certificate program. Additionally, most students enrolled in a bachelor's program must complete general education units, art history and theory courses. Some core animation classes include:
- Digital photography and publishing
- 3-dimensional animation
- Game character creation
- Web design
- Digital effects creation
- Flash animation
Popular Career Options
Most positions available to graduates of an animation or cartoon design certificate program are entry-level, which is why many individuals continue studying and earn a bachelor's degree in the field. Graduates of a certificate program, however, can earn beginning-level positions as animators and designers in the following industries:
- Video game development
- Software development
- Cartoon design
- Graphic design
- Comic book publishing
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), craft and fine artists (which include cartoonist designers) have a projected job growth of 2% for the years 2014 through 2024. Fine artists made a median annual salary of $45,080 in May 2015. Alternatively, multimedia artists and animators have a job growth of 6% for the decade 2014-2024. The BLS reported in 2015 that these workers made a median yearly wage of $63,970.
While both certificate and bachelor's degree programs in the field involve hands-on training, bachelor's programs usually offer a more complex curriculum and more general coursework requirements. Graduates of these programs may seek careers in video game development, graphic design, and other areas of cartoon and animation design.