Animation Education & Career Paths for Students

Mark PhilippAll Topics, Animation and Storyboarding

Career Opportunities in Animation

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The field of multimedia animation is being offered by more and more schools, largely due to an influx of federal, state, and private funding for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) programs. Multimedia animation often requires knowledge of computers, computer software, and even some high-level programming, such as Python. Because multimedia animation combines technology and art, it’s a perfect candidate for STEAM programs around the country. Toon Boom Animation is often used in education for teaching students 21st-century skills.  However, many parents and students wonder what kind of employment opportunities exist for people who pursue this path. What kind of career paths are available? We’ll look at some statistics, traditional animation career paths, and some not-so-traditional.

Animation Career Statistics

Quick Facts: Multimedia Artists and Animators
2016 Median Pay $65,300 per year
$31.40 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 73,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 7,700

Careers in AnimationThis data comes from the US Department of Labor. The data is rather self-explanatory; however, I want to focus on the Job Outlook data. The Job outlook is described as “The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.” The reason this statistic is important is that we can see that the growth of this field is expected to exceed the average across all occupations. Basically, job opportunities in the animation field will be expanding over the next decade. This creates a lot of demand for new talent to come into the field.

Additionally, visual arts majors are not incredibly common in the current higher education landscape. The National Center for Education Statistics finds that visual and performing arts degrees come in 10th place when looking at the number of Bachelor’s degrees conferred nationwide in 2014-2015. It’s also important to note that science disciplines tend to be rapidly outpacing the arts and humanities. It is entirely possible that fewer and fewer students will be studying the visual arts in the coming years. This could potentially lead to a low supply of qualified people to fill these positions, leading to higher wages, and more job opportunities for animators.

Traditional Animation Career Paths

Prepare for Animation Careers with Toon BoomNow that we know the outlook for the coming years, let’s talk about some of the careers multimedia animators have available to them. When we talk about “traditional” career paths, we are talking about careers you might find in the film, video game, and animation studios. In this realm, we are concerned with heavy hitters such as Disney, Pixar, Universal Studios, and any other visual entertainment company. Job titles include 3D Modeler, Stop Motion Animator, Compositing Artist, Storyboard Artist, Texture Artist, Art Director, and Graphic Designer. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are surely more career paths available within the film and animation industry. Within these industries, there is a lot of visual artwork that must be done. With the increasingly complicated technology that’s being used for films, television, and video games, there are more specific job titles emerging. For instance, a texture artist is not something that would have existed in a meaningful way 15 years ago. Considering the rapid pace of technological change, I think it is fair to say that there will be more fields emerging for trained animators soon.

Non-traditional Animation Careers

When we talk about non-traditional career paths, we are talking about jobs that might fall outside of the film, television, and animation industries. Examples of such industries include eLearning, Instructional Technology, PR and Marketing, Software, Engineering, and Science. Many people do not consider how animation fits into disciplines outside of entertainment. However, many industries need art directors and in-house animators for marketing, scientific data visualization, prototype visualizations, and more. This is especially true in the modern information era where social media is a major driving force for brand awareness and marketing. Short animations are incredibly valuable on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Harmony from Toon BoomAdditionally, there are lots of small businesses who are more than willing to pay for contract work. Often, such work does not require a degree, but a portfolio. One personal example I can provide is a friend of mine. He is self-taught and does not have a college degree. However, he knows how to use industry-standard animation software, such as Toon Boom,  After Effects, Cinema 4D, and Harmony. He also has built a portfolio of work from personal projects and contract work. He finds steady work by contracting with companies who may not need an in-house animator. Instead, they need somebody to make a single product for them. My friend will contract with these businesses and get paid a middle-class wage for the work. His contract work almost always allows him to work from home, too. Almost all his jobs have come from either marketing companies or eLearning companies. And remember, my friend does not have a degree. This means that people who don’t have higher education degrees can find steady, high-wage work if they have a grasp of the industry-standard software and have built a portfolio for themselves.

Conclusion

Over the next 10 years, the number of available jobs in multimedia animation is expected to increase at an above-average pace. Additionally, the number of students studying multimedia animation is expected to increase alongside the increasing number of jobs in the industry. This means that students who are currently studying multimedia animation are in a good position to find work after school. Additionally, a variety of non-entertainment industries have a need for animators.

There are also many opportunities in animation for individuals who are not college-bound and do not have a degree. If you have a portfolio of work and know how to use many of the industry-standard animation programs, you have a high chance of finding high-paying work.

If you are interested in the many software platforms for animation, you can view Studica’s offerings here. For over 20 years, Toon Boom software has been the industry standard for creating award-winning animation. Toon Boom offers a variety of products for the education market. Students and teachers can take advantage of academic discounts and train on industry-standard software such as Harmony and Storyboard Pro. Classroom solutions are also available.

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