Digital Animator: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a digital animator. Learn about degree requirements, job outlook and salary 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 Digital Animator?

Digital animators use computers and other tools to create moving illustrations for films, video games or commercials. They will often work as part of a team and may be responsible for a very specific aspect of the overall production, such as scenery and background images. They will often use a storyboard to keep the final product in mind while their work is still in the design stages. As well as having good artistic abilities, digital animators will need to have mastery over the computer programs required to make their illustrations move. Some animators may choose to create their animations entirely through computer software, while others will take hand-drawn illustrations and animate them using a computer.

More details about this creative field are highlighted in the table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Animation, digital arts, art, computer graphics
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, computer literacy, communication
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 4% growth (for all multimedia artists and animators)*
Median Salary (2018) $72,520 (for all multimedia artists and animators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Digital Animator's Work Like?

Digital animators, also called multimedia artists, make designs and drawings to illustrate a story, and then use computer software to bring the drawings to life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you could find a digital animation job with a motion picture company, video game developer or advertising agency. In addition to creating animated 3D art for television commercials and video games, digital animators create characters in increasingly popular computer-animated movies. Many well-known children's movies use this type of computer-generated animation, including Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and Ice Age.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

The BLS states that because of the complexity of the work, a bachelor's degree is usually needed. Bachelor's degree programs in digital arts, media arts and animation are available at many colleges and art schools. If you already have a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, you may want to consider a master's degree program in animation and visual effects. There are also shorter certificate programs and associate's degree programs in digital animation and graphic design to provide training for entry-level jobs. Look for programs that include graphic design and computer applications in animation.

What Will I Study?

Bachelor's degree and master's degree programs provide students an opportunity to develop skills on a variety of computer animation programs, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Apple DVD Studio Pro and Pixologic ZBrush. If you enrolled in a bachelor's degree or master's degree program in digital animation, you would also learn about modeling and graphic design, storyboards and visual effects. Certificate and associate's degree programs are similar but have fewer courses, and may not include advanced coursework.

How Is the Pay?

The BLS reported that the median salary for multimedia artists and animators was $72,520 in May 2018. The BLS said multimedia artists can expect average job growth of 4% in terms of job opportunities, but strong competition in the field.

What Are Some Alternative Related Careers?

There are many career paths that combine aesthetics and technology in the same manner as animation work. If you have earned a bachelor's degree in computer graphics, you may also want to consider working as a graphic designer. These professionals are commissioned by clients to produce logos, general communications, advertisements and other graphics required by companies and organizations. Another similar option is to become a web developer, ensuring that the overall design of company websites is smooth and functional. If the art aspects of animation work is more appealing than the technological side, consider becoming a cartoonist. Cartoonists are required to have many of the same artistic skills as animators but produce content suitable for static or printed formats.

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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