Animator Career Overview & Outlook

Animation is an integral part of the film industry. Who doesn’t love the adorable panda in Kung Fu Panda, a blockbuster that once made waves?

In addition, there are other animation blockbusters that you may have known, such as Wall-E, Coraline, The Chronicles of Narnia, Monsters vs. Aliens, etc.

The animation industry has boundless scope for those who love to create magic and things that never existed in the real world. Of course, the people behind these animation blockbusters are the animators.

Do you want to be an animator? If so, let’s dig deeper into it first.

Job Description

An animator may oversee the creation of 2D (two-dimensional), 3D (three-dimensional), or computer-created images within the gaming, advertising, and entertainment industries.

They commonly draw images with their hands or utilize computer software for their creations.

During the process, they might have to collaborate with other animators, receive advice from senior animators and utilize feedback from their clients to evolve their projects further.


You must carry out specific tasks to excel at your job as an animator. These responsibilities and duties might be:

  • Conceptualize ideas for scenes, backgrounds, characters, and other animation elements.
  • Create character sketches for the new animation based on design briefs.
  • Develop storyboards for the animation project
  • Design backgrounds, sets, and any elements of an animated environment.
  • Develop pacing and timing of the motion based on the audio requirement.
  • Work with the story editors to merge various animation layers.
  • Record dialogue for your animation, if necessary.
  • Collaborate with other creatives, such as photographers, designers, and other animators, to complete the project.

Where Does an Animator Work?

As an animator, you can work in various industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that about 56% of animators and multimedia artists are self-employed. It means you can work from home instead of spending the day at a company’s office.

Many animators can work as contract workers and freelancers, taking on many projects for various clients.

The top companies often in high demand for animators are film, television, and gaming. These are where many animation jobs are available with the most lucrative salaries.

Education Requirements

Degree and Certificate

Most companies require their candidates to have a bachelor’s degree.

In addition to majoring in animation, you can also be after some alternative majors that better meet your career goals and animation interests. For instance, receiving a degree in fine arts, computer graphics, or any related field is okay.

Animation is considered one of the competitive fields. So you should prepare essential skills for the job you want to specialize in after graduation, which will give you an edge over the competition.

Bachelor’s degree is required.

Essential Skills

Animators need to use many skills in their work, and here are some of the most common skills used in making animation:

Computer Animation Skills

Many animators work digitally, utilizing a computer to model, and replicate images and color. There are several specific computer animation skills that animators might use daily.

  • Visual effects
  • 3D rendering
  • Character rigging
  • Game art and design
  • Motion capture software
  • Animation fundamentals
  • Computer generation programs

Artistic Skills

Modern animation is considered a mixture of high-tech computer skills and traditional artistic talent.

Most animators typically have a seasoned background in design or art or some combination of industry experience and artistic education.

An animator’s work and educational background enable them to develop the base artistic skills used in their animation works.

Animation is a diverse area with various styles, so animators come to the career with many artistic backgrounds. But several common skills they have shared include:

  • Color theory
  • Storyboarding
  • Media theory
  • Design principles
  • Visual language
  • Drawing and composition

Soft skills

Apart from computer and artistic skills, successful animators utilize numerous soft skills daily. These skills help animators manage their vast workload, work with other creative professionals effectively and meet their project deadlines.

Although mastering those soft skills will take dedication and time, they are worth it. They help you effectively work with your team and grow your career.

Here are some soft skills that an animator might use:

  • Flexibility
  • Prioritization
  • Self-motivation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Essential Tools

Gone are the days when animators utilized pencil, paint, and paper to create their works.

Gone are the days when animators used pencil, paint, and paper to create their creations. Nowadays, with the development of technology, the work of animators has become simpler thanks to digital tools and software, such as:

  • Animate (Adobe)
  • 3ds Max (Autodesk)
  • After Effects (Adobe)
  • Character Animator (Adobe)
  • Dragonframe (DZED Systems)
  • Cartoon Animator 4 (Reallusion)
  • Blender (The Blender Foundation)
  • FlipBook (DigiCel)
  • Moovly (Moovly)
  • Maya (Autodesk)
  • Moho Pro 13 (Smith Micro)
  • OpenToonz (Digital Video SpA)
  • Piskel
  • Pencil2D
  • PhotoMirage (Corel)

Job Outlook

If you pursue becoming an animator and do your best to become a good one, you will have a bright future. According to the BLS, the demand for animators and multimedia artists is expected to grow by 4% over the following ten years.

With an animation degree, you can work in many industries. Film and television are some of the most commonly thought about and popular industries when talking about animation. You may work in advertising and gaming as well.

Other common animation careers include animation artist, art director, fine or craft artist, web developer, and graphic designer. Possessing a bachelor’s degree in animation may let you work in a creative field with various career options.

With an animation degree, you can pursue a graphic designer or web developer job. With experience, you can also get the lucrative position of art director.

The demand for animators is always high.


The average annual salary for one animator in the US is approximately $53,540. By simple calculations, it is easy to estimate that this salary is equivalent to $25.74 per hour, $1,029 per week, and $4,461 per month.

The lowest annual salary is 11,000, and the highest is $93,500. But the animator’s average annual salary typically ranges from $37,000 to $69,500. Many animators earn $81,000 annually across the US.

The average pay range for animators in the US is significant, showing many opportunities for increased pay and advancements based on location, years of experience, and skill level.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • The global animation industry is huge.
  • It is easy to find many opportunities online.
  • It is one of the lucrative professions.
  • It pushes you to improve constantly.
  • It gives expansive room for creativity, especially if you want to create your characters and stories.
  • As a challenging job, it will push you to explore outside of your limit.
  • High salary, as long as you are good.


  • It is time-consuming.
  • Sometimes you must work for long hours.
  • There’s a lot of repetition, which can lead to fatigue.


What Is the Difference Between Cartooning and Animation?

You should not confuse animation and cartoons.

Cartooning refers to drawing the character with several distinct subtleties to make characters produce a sense of comedy.

On the flip side, animation involves the art of bringing life and breathing souls into these characters. It refers to the art with which inanimate objects and characters are brought to life thanks to many modern computer-based techniques.

Is Animation a Good Career?

Yes, animation is a great career. There are many animation careers, such as director, animator, graphic designer, craft artist, or web developer. Careers in animation can also be found in television, gaming, advertising, or film.

What Is the Average Amount of Working Hours for an Animator per Week?

According to the BLS, an animator works normal hours (meaning 40 hours per week). But it may differ depending on deadline needs or your employer.

Does an Animator Need a License?

It is unnecessary to have a license to qualify for an animator position. The only thing you need to prepare for is a bachelor’s degree.

A license or certificate is optional but recommended as it will give you many advantages, such as helping you stand out from other candidates.

How to Improve My Animation Skills?

  • Step 1: Earn a degree
  • Step 2: Take a training course
  • Step 3: Complete an internship
  • Step 4: Get job experience

What Applications Do 2D and 3D Animation Have?

Besides movies, gaming, and other forms of entertainment, 2D and 3D animation have various uses in different fields. Here are only a few kinds of applications that can apply 2D or 3D animation.

  • How-to videos
  • Medical explainers
  • Dynamic content
  • E-learning modules
  • Promotional material

Is Animation A High-Paying Job?

Animation is considered a frivolous and fun career, but what many people do not know is that it can be a very lucrative one.

The fact is that it is one of the highest-paying careers in the entertainment area.

Animators can make great salaries, and even people who are just starting out can expect to make a good living.

So why is it such a highly paid field? There are some good reasons.

The first one is that animation is a specialized skill set, meaning not many people have the ability to do the job well.

The second one, animation is always in high demand, especially in the video game and film industries.

Ultimately, animation requires a lot of effort and time to create, so many companies are willing to pay their animator a high salary for their jobs.

Career Advice

If your creativity is high and you want to take advantage of it, animator is the right career option for you. To be a good animator, you must possess great imagination and zeal.

You must be good at sketching and drawing. Understanding human and animal movement and expressions is also essential in animation since it helps you express the characters most appropriately and reasonably.

Moreover, you should have decent visualization skills and a flair for utilizing colors. Hard work, patience, and dedication to your work are also must-haves for this position.

Animation is considered a multitasking job, meaning you will probably do part of a team. So communication skills are one of the soft skills you need to master.