Becoming an Animator: What You Need to Know

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From hand-drawn to computer-generated, and with so many sub-genres in between, the animation industry is booming. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue a career as an animator, including the level of education and training required, the skills and qualities you will need, the types of jobs and career paths available, and the importance of building a portfolio and networking. All of these steps toward becoming an animator are discussed in this article.

Necessary Levels of Education and Experience

Becoming an Animator: What You Need to Know

There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but most animators begin the business after completing a four-year college degree program in animation or a similar discipline. Colleges and universities often offer animation degree programs that include a wide variety of topics, such as the basics of animation, character design, and CGI. Classes in drawing and computer graphics, for example, are sometimes required as a pre-requisite for several programs.

Two-dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D), stop-motion (STOP), and motion graphics (MOTION) animation are just few of the subgenres that may be found inside the animation umbrella. Aspiring animators should do their homework and pick a niche within the industry that speaks to their passions and professional aspirations.

Qualities Needed in an Animator

Strong aesthetic abilities like drawing and visual storytelling are essential for an animator, but technical knowledge of animation software and tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Maya, or Toon Boom Harmony are also necessary. Paying close attention to detail and being able to meet strict deadlines are also crucial. In addition to technical expertise, animators need the creative spirit and the ability to give characters and storylines a vivid sense of reality.

Because animation is typically a trial-and-error process, animators need strong problem-solving skills in addition to technical and aesthetic expertise. The capacity for critical thought and the generation of original ideas for addressing challenges is a necessary skill.

It’s important for animators to be able to clearly and concisely explain their thoughts to their colleagues, as they frequently work on projects as part of a team. Being receptive to criticism and guidance is also crucial.

Having a genuine interest in animation and a willingness to learn about new developments in the field are also important traits for animators to have. To keep up with the competition in the animation industry, animators need to be open to learning new tools and methods.

Future Career Options and Job Market for the Animation Industry

Since animation covers such a wide range of specializations, it offers a wide variety of career paths. Digital animation is created using computers and software, while traditional animation relies on hand-drawn images. Although there are many who work better with one technique or the other, animators need both. The average compensation for animators is roughly $75,000 per year, and the industry is expanding rapidly.

There are pros and cons to both working for a studio full-time and going it alone as an animator. Freelancing offers more freedom and the opportunity to take on a wider range of assignments than a 9-to-5 job, but full-time work often offers higher wages, benefits, and career growth opportunities.

Jobs in animation can be found in a wide variety of industries, including those dealing with film and television production, video game design, advertising, and graphic design. Many animators operate as independent contractors, taking on jobs from a wide range of companies.

Animators’ professional trajectories are as diverse as the fields in which they choose to work. Simple animation production, compositing, and editing are commonplace beginning duties for junior animators. They may be promoted to lead animator or animation supervisor as their experience and expertise grow.

Some animators might also move on to work in animation direction, animation writing, or animation production management. After gaining the necessary expertise and training, animators might also choose to strike out on their own and launch their own animation studios or production firms.

Participating in Professional Networks and Developing a Resume

Becoming an Animator: What You Need to Know

For animators, a great portfolio is a must, as it serves as a demonstration of their ability to prospective employers. Your portfolio should showcase your versatility as an animator by including both finished and unfinished works. Whether it’s through independent work, an internship, or student film, there are many ways for aspiring actors and filmmakers to build their reels.

Job possibilities and constructive criticism from peers and industry professionals can be gained through networking with other animators. Animators can learn about new career prospects, keep up with industry trends, and make key industry connections by attending animation conferences and workshops, joining online animation communities and organizations, and networking with other animators.

Having an online presence, such as a personal website or social media profiles, helps your portfolio get seen by potential employers. It’s a great way to expand your audience and get your portfolio out there.

You can use your portfolio and connections to find freelance employment or a job. Gaining freelance employment and establishing a clientele requires a great portfolio and solid industry connections.


Becoming an animator calls for a blend of dedication, talent, and opportunities to learn and grow professionally. Before deciding on a certain area of animation to focus on as a career, it’s necessary to learn more about the various subfields, job prospects, and career routes available in the field. Assuming you put in the time and effort to acquire the necessary knowledge and experience, you can build a successful career as an animator.


Nemanja holds his master's degree in economics, and he's been writing and delivering helpful guides right at your feet for years! With an audience that counts in millions, he writes an article a day to keep stupidity away.

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