National Avg. Salary

$70,300 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

6.1% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

Bachelor's Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Creativity Focused
  • Dependable Daily Workload
  • Skill-Based Work

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Animators use hand-drawing or—more commonly—specialized computer programs to design animations for movies, video games, TV shows, and other media. In general, they specialize in designing a specific type of animation, working in character animation, scene animation, or 3D animations.

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Job Description

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in animator roles:

  • Design 2D animations using hand-drawing or computer animation programs
  • Convert recorded actor movements into 3D renderings using designed characters
  • Design animated movies, video games, and TV shows, and add animations to other forms of media
  • Work with a team of animators, designers, and developers to turn animations into a fully functional product
  • Revise animations based on feedback

A Day in the Life

Animators are responsible for creating some of the most beloved entertainment of our time—animated movies, cartoon television shows, and video games of all genres. They are artists—and sometimes programmers—who translate their artistic talents into computer code in order to create moving pictures using designed animations. These skills may lead them to work for major publishers like Pixar and Disney, or they may work for some of the largest gaming studios like Nintendo or Sony.

Animators usually specialize in designing a specific type of animations. They may focus on animating characters, or they may focus on animating backgrounds and scenery. Some also specialize in 3D animations, which require taking the recorded movements of real actors and applying them to character designs and movements. While some animators still create animations the old way by producing thousands of hand-drawn pictures, most these days use computer programs to create animations.

Animators almost always work with a team and divvy up responsibilities for projects. Each animator works on their specific portion of the project, and then at the end, all pieces are merged together to create a cohesive whole. For this reason, animators must be effective team players as well as skilled animators because disconnects could lead to disjointed final projects. Additionally, animators who work on video games also commonly work with developers to transform animations to code.

Typical Work Schedule

For the most part, animators work full-time schedules during normal business hours. However, they may occasionally need to work overtime to meet project deadlines.

Projected Job Growth

Animated movies, television shows, video games, and mobile games and applications are among the most popular entertainment mediums of our time, so demand for skilled animators is expected to increase in the coming decade to enable businesses to continue producing these forms of media.

Animator Specializations

  • 2D animators specialize in producing flat animations for cartoon movies and TV shows.
  • 3D animators specialize in producing three-dimensional animations using real actor models.
  • Video game animators focus on designing backgrounds, characters, and levels for video games.

Typical Employers

Many animators are self-employed and provide animations on a freelance basis. Others work for movie, television, and video game producers like Disney, Pixar, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

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Animator Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

Low Range

$47,660

Average

$70,300

High Range

$113,600

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$23/hr

Average

$34/hr

High Range

$55/hr

How do Animator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Animator's can make an average annual salary of $70,300, or $34 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $47,660 or $23 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #196 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

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How To Become

The starting point for finding work as an animator is earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics, or animation. If choosing to pursue a degree in fine arts, it’s important for aspiring animators to make sure they take courses in computer design as well as most major animation studios use computer programs for animation design. Additionally, coursework in both 2D and 3D design are beneficial. While you’ll likely end up specializing in one or the other, it’s good to be familiar with both.

While in college, you’ll need to start building a portfolio of work. You can do this as part of class projects, or you might choose to self-develop animations and cartoons on your own time and publish them to social media sites like YouTube. Animators can earn some money from ad revenue on YouTube-hosted animations. Additionally, a portfolio will be required when applying for open positions after college, and having published pieces with positive feedback received will be beneficial for getting hired.

While having a bachelor’s degree is generally required for finding work with a production company, self-employed animators may be able to secure work without having a degree. If you’re able to teach yourself how to animate and have the talent, a striking portfolio may hold more weight than having a degree. However, taking college courses in business administration can be helpful for self-employed animators as they’ll need business acumen, negotiation skills, and bookkeeping abilities.


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Quick Summary

  • Optional

    Most production studios require animators to have a bachelor’s degree, but talented animators with promising portfolios may be able to find freelance work without a degree.

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    Bachelor's

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Animator. a Bachelor's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Animator

  • 1.9%   Doctorate
  • 12%   Masters
  • 45%   Bachelors
  • 9%   Associates
  • 18.4%   College
  • 10.7%   High School
  • 3%   Less than High School

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Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

64,400

2024 Est. Jobs

68,300

Job Growth Rate

6.1%

Est. New Jobs

3,900

How does Animator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,900 jobs for a total of 68,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #368 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

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What Companies Employ The Most Animators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 35,300 300 0%
Computer systems design and related services 3,800 800 1%
Software publishers 3,200 900 1%

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