Animator: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

An animator is an artist who designs images in frames to create the illusion of movement when they are displayed in rapid succession. These professionals usually hold bachelor's degrees. The employment outlook for animators through 2026 is average, and highly skilled professionals in this field should have the best opportunities of finding work. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Animators create animation, special effects and other visual images that include hand-drawn and computer-generated sketches, videos and other electronic media for use in movies, music videos, commercials, and computer games. An animator may specialize in creating characters, environments, or special effects. Animators typically work on teams, with certain individuals responsible for developing part of the overall motion picture, game or other production.

Responsibilities Creating visual effects for film, games, websites, and mobile applications
Job Outlook Projected 8% employment growth from 2016-2026 with 6,200 new jobs
Degree Options Bachelor of Arts in Animation, Bachelor of Science in Computer Animation, Master of Arts in Animation, Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Digital Arts

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would My Job Duties Be?

As an animator, you would typically draw your images by hand and use computers to compile those images into a series of pictures that create the illusion of movement. Computer software is also highly useful for editing images and adding special effects. Some animators create storyboards, which resemble comic strips and allow the artists involved to evaluate the effectiveness of the drawings to convey a certain idea or emotion.

What is the Employment Outlook for this Career?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for animators and multimedia artists is expected to be about the same average as all other occupations within the 2016-2026 decade. Since people want realistic video games, special effects and 3-dimensional animated movies, the demand for animators still exists. However, any slow down of job growth will be partly due to the fact that animation work is commonly outsourced to foreign countries.

Additionally, animation work will be needed in website development, computer graphics, mobile technologies, design services and scientific research. Competition for animation jobs should be stiff, since the number of qualified animators generally exceed the number of available openings. Although, highly specialized animation or special effects skills could help professionals stand out among the competition.

Some of the specialized career options for animators might include:

  • Storyboard or layout artists
  • Visual development artists
  • Modelers
  • Character animators or riggers
  • Effects animators
  • Motion capture or motion graphics artists
  • Lighting artists
  • Game artists

What are the Educational Requirements?

Per the BLS, a bachelor's degree in animation, computer graphics, fine art, or a similar major is typically necessary to obtain employment in this field. Some animators might find it useful to earn a master's degree. Programs may include an area of emphasis, such as modeling, effects or technical art. Courses involved with these educational routes include life drawing, color theory, motion graphics, stop-motion animation, interactive media, and compositing. Also, animation programs often include internship opportunities that provide students with real-world, hands-on experience.

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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