3D Animation Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for 3D animation technicians. Get the facts about salary, job duties, degree requirements and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does A 3-D Animation Technician Do?

3-D animation technicians create 3-D animated images and models using their artistic skills and computer design software. A bachelor's degree is usually required for multimedia artists and animators; 3-D animation technicians perform entry-level duties and may only need a certificate or associate's degree to enter the field. They work under the supervision of senior animators, and may be involved in meeting with clients to review design proposals and incorporate changes into the design to meet the client's expectations. Their job may also involve some research. If they're animating an animal or object they may study the source to gain insight into how to develop the animated design. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2014 more than half of multimedia artists and animators were self-employed, and motion picture industries, video game industries and professional, scientific and technical services were the other primary employers of multimedia artists and animators.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Training Required Moderate on-the-job training
Education Field of Study Art, computer graphics, animation, fine arts
Key Responsibilities Design visual effects and animations for mediums such as television, video games and the Internet; consult with clients and other creative staff regarding projects; edit animations
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%*
Average Salary (2015) $70,300*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a 3-D Animation Technician?

Animation technicians are generally entry-level multimedia artists that assist experienced graphic designers and animators with technical aspects of digital animation and visual effects. As a 3-D animation technician, you could develop projects for many different fields, including architecture, biomedical technology, television, video game development or film. You'll usually need substantial computer training and in-depth knowledge of current animation programs.

Your job responsibilities often include helping animators create 2-D and 3-D images using industry-standard software, such as Autodesk's Maya or Adobe's After Effects. You could also help with storyboarding, modeling, editing and visual aspects of character and scene development, improving the lifelike appearance of 3-D animations by manipulating motion, color, texture, lighting or transparency.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

Several community colleges, technical schools and art institutions offer undergraduate certificate and associate degree programs in animation technology. You'll usually learn how to use a few graphics programs and tools, such as Photoshop, vectoring and 3-D modeling, and at least one animation program.

Practical courses and computer lab work teach you video production, design principles and media animation. Depending on the extent of skills a program covers, you'll often learn how to outline a story draft, create 2-D animations or drawings and develop characters before moving into advanced topics in lighting, 3-D imaging or special effects.

What Is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for multimedia artists and animators was expected to rise 6% between 2012 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). Growth for this profession was anticipated to be affected by the demand for increasingly authentic-looking special effects for video games and animated films. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for multimedia artists and animators was $70,300 as of May 2015, though some industries, such as travel arrangement and reservation services, paid an average of over $85,000 that year. However, as an entry-level animation technician, your salary could be lower until you gain experience and advance your skills.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Sketch artists and sculptures are considered fine artists; they do not necessarily need a degree, but may work with clients to create 3-D images or models for sale or for display. Graphic designers do need a bachelor's degree, and they use their artistic and computer skills to combine shapes, colors and images to create a visual image that fits the needs of their clients. They may develop logos, images for advertisements, or images used for other purposes. Art directors also need a bachelor's degree and they also draw on their artistic and computer skills to develop designs for things like magazine layouts, book layouts and product packaging.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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