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How Do I Become a Video Game Animator?

Explore the career requirements for a video game animator. Get the facts about degree programs available, job duties and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is A Video Game Animator?

The characters and settings in a video game are created by video game animators. They meet with the game designers and programmers and discuss the needs of the game and the desired look. Video game animators then work on storyboards with proposals for the settings and characters that will be used in the game. As they continue to meet with the other professionals involved in creating the games they will revise those proposals until the final look for all elements in the game is approved. They may use their artistic skills to draw by hand, and also use computer design software to generate the images that will be incorporated into the game.

Degree Required Associate's degree; bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Draw storyboards; develop animated characters and settings for video games
Job Growth (2018-2028) 4%* (multi-media artists and animators)
Median Salary (2018) $72,520* (multi-media artists and animators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associate's and Bachelor's Degree Programs for Video Game Animators

The first step to becoming a video game animator is to get your associate's or bachelor's degree. Associate's degree options are an Associate of Science in Video Game Design and Associate of Arts in Computer Arts Animation. A 2-year associate's degree is the minimum degree requirement for most jobs in the game design industry, but your job prospects will improve with the completion of a bachelor's degree program.

Bachelor's degree programs generally take four years to complete, although there are some accelerated programs that can be completed in about three years. Some of the most common degrees programs are a Bachelor of Science in Animation and Game Development and Bachelor of Science in Animation.

Get An Internship

When it comes to getting your first job as a video game animator, it would be beneficial to participate in an internship. An internship provides you with the opportunity to gain valuable experience and learn from industry experts and mentors. Another benefit of an internship is that employers who are impressed with your job performance might offer you a full time position at their company.

Membership in professional organizations can also improve your job prospects. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) offers membership benefits such as chapter meetings, peer-to-peer interaction and career development (www.igda.org). Another organization you can join is the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), which offers membership to creative/technical professionals with two years of work experience (www.interactive.org).

What Will I Do?

Video game animators are part of a dynamic creative team that works together to develop entertaining computer and console video games. You will work with computers and software programs, creating animated characters, environments and images. Your work as an animator on a project might start with a storyboard, which is basically like a blueprint and the first stage in the development of most video games. You will tell stories through animated images and interactive environments, using your artistic ability and technical skills.

How Much Money Can I Earn?

Your starting salary depends on the level of the degree you earned, the region in which you work and the company you work for. Companies that are located in larger cities will generally pay more than companies in smaller areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, multi-media artists and animators earned a median annual salary of $72,520 in 2018 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Multimedia artists and animators may work in the film industry and create 2-D and 3-D products for use in film, commercials, television shows and music videos. They need a bachelor's degree and perform many of the same tasks as video game animators. Sketch artists and sculptors also have roles related to video game animators and are categorized as fine artists. They do not always need postsecondary training, but they utilize their artistic skills to produce 2-D and 3-D products. Cartoon artists and illustrators also rely on their artistic talents to produce 2-D images that may be used in comic strips or other printed mediums. They may pursue a bachelor's degree, but artistic talent is the primary consideration by potential employers.