School is back-in-session which means high school seniors applying for college and even current undeclared college freshmen and sophomores will soon need to select a major-of-choice. If you have a passion for the arts but are not sure which specific niche to delve into, you may consider pursuing one of the more popular areas that is predicted to provide an adequate number of employment opportunities in the coming years—animation. If you are unfamiliar with this career choice, continue reading below to discover what this job entails, including working environment, the skills you need to possess to be successful and starting salary.
What does an Animator Do?
In a nutshell, an animator creates original 2-D or 3-D visual images or special effects for a variety of industries including film, television, gaming, publications and the web. While traditional methods such as hand drawings are still mildly used, the industry is more or less dominated by the use of digital tools to create animation. That said, it’s important that those who choose to pursue this career are not only naturally gifted artists, but are also a wiz with computers so they can easily learn how to use all of the digital-creating software. Some other skills a successful animator needs to possess include the following: an eye for details, excellent time management skills, strong image-editing skills, and the ability to create and read storyboards.
What are the Educational Requirements and Classes you Will Take?
Typically, you need a Visual Arts or Fine Arts bachelor’s degree with a concentration in animation to get hired as an animator. While animation is usually a concentration within a broader field, students may just very well be able to tailor their skills even further and select a specialization within their concentration, such as 3-D imaging or visual effects for example. Regardless, some sample classes you will be required to take are the following: Computer Animation and Graphic Design, Composition and Design, Illustration, 2-D Animation, 3-D Animation and Film Making just to name a few.
What is the Career Outlook and Working Environment?
Unlike other laborious careers, animators typically work in a cool and well ventilated, lighted area such as in a studio, loft or other type of office space. They may need to do some light traveling to sister studios or visit exotic places for inspiration, but other than that they tend to stay in a centralized location. Working hours are sporadic (generally not a typical 9 to 5 job) and on a daily basis animators work with animation directors, photographers, graphic designers, and other clients.
While many careers are unstable, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics those pursuing a career in animation should see many employment opportunities within the next decade. In fact, the Bureau predicts that employment opportunities should increase about 14%, creating about 11,200 new jobs by 2018— especially in the movie, gaming and television fields. This is because these areas will demand more “realistic” imagery in the coming years, the Bureau states. Other trending popular areas include design agencies and scientific/medical research facilities (medical experts for example need animators to illustrate procedures etc.)
That’s not to say that competition won’t be fierce because it will be. But to make sure you increase your chances of employment and to beef up your resume, focus on obtaining a lot of experience via internships while pursuing your undergraduate degree or consider become a “specialist” and earning a master’s degree in the subject. While salary will depend on various factors, including place of employment, degree level and previous experience, according to the Bureau animators typically earn anywhere from $41,710 to $77,010.