Digital media specialists work in a variety of sectors providing video, graphics, animation, sound, music and special effects to websites, films, television shows, pod casts, audio feeds and similar products, often managing them from concept to finished product. They often work long hours, especially while under a deadline. They use computer graphics, animation software, digital cameras and camcorders and a variety of other tools to perform their jobs.
Requirements and Qualifications
Digital media specialists often work long hours, with 50 hour work weeks being somewhat common in the industry. Working evenings or weekends around a deadline also may happen frequently, so you’ll need to keep a flexible schedule during your free time. Familiarity with a variety of multimedia software is also helpful, including Photoshop, GNU Image Manipulation Program, Soundtrack Pro, GarageBand, InDesign, Illustrator and Microsoft Office, among others. Among the qualities you’ll find useful in this industry include artistic talent, creativity, computer skills, people skills and physical stamina.
Though it is not required, many digital media specialists have bachelor’s degrees in fine arts, computer graphics, animation or a similar field. Computer graphics degrees tend towards computer science, programming and digital graphics programs. Fine art programs tend towards traditional, real-world media. Animation tends to fall in the middle with both fine art and digital technology coursework.
Steps to Become a Digital Media Specialist
While working on your degree program, you should begin putting together a portfolio, basically a collection of samples of your best current work. You should also develop a solid background in technical skills. Some studios have their in-house training on software developed just for their company, while others use more commonly available programs. You may be hired on a test basis and will need to prove yourself during that time period. Continuing education, conferences and expos will provide you the opportunity to hone and improve your skills while keeping your skills up-to-date.
Not quite what you’re after? Here are some more career paths with similar skills and fields that you may enjoy exploring:
- Good at coordinating different items? Art directors coordinate a number of departments’ artistic output to produce a cohesive piece.
- Are you a code talker? Computer programmers use a variety of computer languages to write software programs.
- Have a creative side? Craft and fine artists produce unique pieces of art using a variety of multimedia techniques.
- Good with graphics programs? Graphic designers make creative visual concepts to convey information, inspiration or stories.
- Want to specialize in another area? Information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects provide computer and network security against outside attack, create and maintain a web presence for an organization or plan and install or improve computer networks.
The average annual pay for a digital media specialist in May 2010 was $58,510, almost double the average annual income of all careers. They often work long hours, and 50-hour work weeks are not unusual in this career path.
Digital media specialists can expect to see an increase in opportunities of 8% over the next decade, slightly slower than the average for all career paths. Though competition will remain strong, those with strong computer graphics skills will do best. Continued increases in internet and mobile technology fronts will provide an excellent career outlook for a digital media specialist who stays on top of the breakthroughs in these new areas.