how to become an animator

How To Become an Animator | All You Need To Know

The animation industry has grown to be very competitive allowing you to bring images and ideas to life in various industries. It requires a lot of criteria such as the experience needed to get a job. Now, the question is, how does one start building competence or even experience? How does one become an animator?

Continue reading to learn how to become an animator, what skills you should possess, job requirements, and how to break into this fast-paced, thrilling industry.

Who is an Animator?

An animator is one who uses modern-day animation software and computers to design and draw a succession of images to produce movement. This professional makes anything from classic hand-drawn cartoons to digital two-dimensional and three-dimensional art that may be found in video games, television ads, motion movies, websites, and other digital platforms.

Most animators come from a lineage of people with great drawing and sculpting talents and that is a trademark of their animated pictures. It adds finesse too!.

What Does an Animator Do?

Given that technology is virtually part of what we do, an animator uses his imagination and modern art skills to create a plethora of visuals known as animations. These animations can be used in a variety of media types.

Some things an animator can use for work include; storyboards for movies, avatars for video games, and digital graphics. The responsibilities of an animator include:

  • Showing problem-solving creativity
  • Making graphic concept mockups and animations
  • Understanding user experience and social media platforms
  • Creating game art
  • Managing time effectively
  • Collaboratively work with team members

How Much Does an Animator Earn?

According to BLS, the average salary for an animator is $77,000 with the lowest earner making roughly $42,390 and the highest earner raking in about $142,750.

However, these earnings can vary with factors like the company you work for, the clientele you work with, and the position you have. Although most animators start out pretty early and at entry-level roles, you can make considerable money working for firms.

What is the Average Time it Takes to Become an Animator?

If you pursue a college degree plus a year or two of internship or freelancing job, the overall time commitment will be between 4 and 7 years. Although everyone’s career path will be unique, the time it takes will be determined by the direction you choose.

Whether you are still in school or doing an internship, you can get freelancing jobs before you secure employment. Also, taking online classes can help you get started as an animator faster by giving you time to work while you earn.

Career Outlook for an Animator

Now, more than ever before, animators are in higher demand because of the growing need for video game graphics and film animation aesthetics.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 16% increase in the employment of animators and special effects artists. It will interest you to know that animators, game designers, multimedia motion picture studios, and video game production businesses need artists.

How To Become an Animator

If you have a passion for the arts and want to pursue a career as an animator, you might be unsure where to begin. The following is a step-by-step approach to getting you started on your animation career.

#1. Discover Your Strength and Crave a Niche for Yourself

Did you know you can work as a 2D/3D animator or a key-frame editor? Now that you know. If you have tried out different job roles and found the one you enjoy the most, you can pay attention to that part of the animation that interests you the most and get grounded.

While carving a niche for yourself, you can work as a forensic animator where you can use computer graphics to design and recreate crime scenes.

#2. Acquire Education

To become an animator, you can get a bachelor’s degree in art, graphic design, or any other related field. BLS confirms that most organizations seek candidates who have strong skills and portfolios.

So, you would enroll in animation degree programs or even online courses. You can go as far as earning a master’s degree to further your education.

#3. Improve Your Abilities

Your love for art and some artistic aptitude can help you get started on your dream of becoming an animator. To succeed, there is a need for you to perfect your talents and practice them.

Apply all that you have learned during your degree programs and online courses into practice. It will help you stand out from among your peers. What maximum concentration helps you do is that you become excellent with time and consistency.

#4. Make Your Own Demo Reel

Your demo reel is a showcase of your best work and the best place to exhibit your creativity. Your demo reel will be the point at which you can grab the attention of a potential employer.

If you are lucky enough, you could have your foremost jobs come from freelance jobs. Be sure to include your best works in your demo reel.

You can host your demo reel on several platforms including Vimeo, WordPress, Google Drive, etc.

#5. Create a Portfolio

To showcase your competence, you will need to create a portfolio that will help you while you are looking for jobs. While this serves the same purpose as a demo reel, your portfolio gives you more visibility.

The following are what you should include in your portfolio.

  • 1-4 minute reel of your work
  • Drawings from life
  • Object sketches
  • Animations
  • Storyboards
  • Your bio

However, remember that the decision an employer comes up with depends on whether or not your portfolio is solid. So, make sure it is innovative in every sense of the word, filled with exceptional work samples, and showcases a plethora of your skills in a great way.

#6. Gather Work Experience

As much as it is difficult to gather work experience because most employers prefer animators with a college degree, you can gain worthy work experience through internships. It will help boost your portfolio a great deal.

One tip on how you can do this is to do some free work for family, friends, and other members of society. This will give you valuable job experience that you can add to your demo reel.

#7. Consider Pursuing a Graduate Degree

Once you start working, you may enjoy a certain specialty more. You could enroll in a graduate program to help advance your career and prepare you for senior-level roles.

Before then, consider what part of animation you’d love to become a master in and consider the benefits it will add to your current level of expertise. if you don’t already know what these benefits are, see some below.

  • Overseeing a creative team
  • Collaborating with other knowledgeable individuals
  • Making connections with industry leaders in the animation field
  • Increasing your pay
  • Teaching others about the most recent developments in animation

What Skills Do I Need to Become an Animator?

To work as a full-time animator or even remotely, you ha to possess great animation skills, and your level of creativity must be top-notch. Other animation skills you need include:

  • Modelling and drawing
  • Video Editing
  • Graphic design

Other animation-unrelated skills you should possess include the following

  • Patience
  • Detail-oriented
  • Tech-savvy
  • Ability to innovate

A combination of animation, technical, and soft skills can help you develop in your profession and stand out to potential employers.

What Factors Should I Consider When Selecting an Animation Program?

Choosing a program can be quite taxing but you could consider your availability, money, and career aspirations. Also, it would be nice if you look out for the curriculum and ratings of the degree program you have chosen before enrolling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is an animator?

An animator is one who uses modern-day animation software and computers to design and draw a succession of images to produce movement

What is the salary expectation of an animator?

According to BLS, the average salary for an animator is $77,000 with the lowest earner making roughly $42,390 and the highest earner raking in about $142,750. However, there are several other factors that can affect your income like where you live, who you work with/for and your years of experience.

Is choosing a career path in animation worthwhile?

Basically, what one looks out for while choosing a career is passion plus how much you can earn while on it. Becoming an animator is one of the sought-after tech jobs in today’s world and with every new change that happens, a career in animation becomes enviable.

Bottom Line

The spur to become an animator comes from the enthusiasm to learn and make the upward movement and passion for the arts. The tricky part, however, is figuring out how to get there. Hence, this article might help set you on track toward your goal.



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