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Animator: Required Education For a Career in Animation

Animators draw by hand and with computers and other electronic tools. Then they edit and color drawings. Once this is done, they may photograph them, transfer them to film or tape and present them as animated cartoons and special effects for various visual media.

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Educational Requirements

Aside from talent, an animator's skills can be vastly improved by completing postsecondary training, such as a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program in animation or a related field. Students typically take courses in drawing, 3D programming, computer graphics, video effects and graphic design. Supplemental courses may cover topics in image generation, digital animation, modeling, story structure and game design. Programs may also provide training on sound and video editing, as well as kinematics.

Portfolios

Through their coursework, students may begin to build a professional portfolio of their work. They may also take specialized courses, such as design studios, to help them improve their skills in animation. Some of these courses may also cover portfolio presentation and self-marketing to help students find jobs after they graduate.

Job Opportunities

Upon graduation, students may look for employment with motion picture and video production companies, as well as advertising and public relations firms. Animators may also find work with software publishers and computer system design firms. With additional training, these professionals may also become:

  • Sketch artists
  • Graphic designers
  • Painters
  • Cartoonists
  • Illustrators
  • Computer game developers
  • Computer game programmers
  • Visual artists
  • Web designers
  • Multimedia designers

Job and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects job information for animators with that of multimedia artists (www.bls.gov). As such, the bureau reported that job openings for multimedia artists and animators were projected to rise by only 8% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2012, the BLS also reported that these professionals received a median annual salary of $61,370, with most earning between $34,860 and $113,470 per year. Those employed in California, New York and District of Columbia received the highest salaries of all multimedia artists and animators, earning average yearly wages of $84,590, $71,960 and $71,940, respectively.

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