Computer Animator: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a computer animator. Learn about job duties, salary, educational requirements and the job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Animator?

A computer animator plays a role in the process of creating animation for technology, as well as cartoons and video games. They may work with a team of animators to create animations or individually on a project. Computer animators will likely need to conduct research for a project and/or meet with clients to review deadlines. These professionals will typically create a storyboard, produce the animation and then edit the animation as needed. The whole creative process usually involves the input of animators, game designers, directors and other staff. The following chart shows an overview of what you need to know about becoming a computer animator.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree preferred; associate's degrees and certificate programs available
Education Field of Study Fine arts, computer animation
Key Skills Teamwork, creativity, visual art and storytelling, technical skills for multiple platforms (video games, film, websites, mobile devices)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for multimedia artists and animators)*
Average Salary (2015) $70,300 (for multimedia artists and animators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are the Job Duties of a Computer Animator?

As a computer animator, you use computer technology to illustrate and design believable settings and characters in movie frames, video games and animation. You'll also play a role in the development of Web and mobile technology. You'll work with a team of other people to tell a story, using your artistic and story-telling skills in the design of video games or film. You may also create television programs or Internet ads.

Computer animators exchange ideas with other people and develop multiple possibilities in order to see which works best to create each image, frame by frame, with proper setting and timing to make sure it fits. You use various illustration, animation and design software to complete projects.

What Is My Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for multimedia artists and animators was expected to grow slower than average, by about six percent between 2014 and 2024. Demand for animators is expected to stem from the growth of video games, movies, special effects and Web pages, all of which use computer animation. However, even with expected growth, competition will be keen since some companies are hiring lower-cost overseas artists and animators. As of 2015, the BLS indicated about 30,240 people were employed as multimedia artists and animators in the U.S., and they earned an average of $70,300 annually.

What Education Requirements Do I Need to Meet?

You may need at least a bachelor's degree in a fine arts field to have the best employment options in computer animation. However, associate's degree and certificate options are available. Courses include 3-D modeling, 3-D graphic design, character development and interactive design. You may also choose classes in dynamics, rigging, lighting and texturing. You might prefer a program that focuses on the development of communication, story-telling and technical skills since these are keys to success in the field. You may want a program that teaches new techniques in computer animation and helps you stay current with changes in the field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers that require a bachelor's degree include those of graphic designers, computer programmers and art directors. Graphic designers create visual concepts for things like magazines or brochures that convey various ideas to consumers. Computer programmers ensure that computers and software are functioning properly. They do this by writing and testing code that they create from program designs provided by software developers or engineers. Art directors create and maintain the visual style and design of a project. They can work for newspapers, movie productions, magazines and more. Art directors typically need prior work experience.

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