How to become a Computer Animator

HBAM01If you enjoy creating two- or three-dimensional images using advanced art software, a large job market exists to put your creative skills to professional use. Anyone interested in becoming a computer animator needs a background education in computer technology, usually a four year degree, and will have to put together a digital portfolio for potential employers to look over.



Job Outlook

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Like many information technology fields, multimedia artists will enjoy strong job growth in the near future as the demand for computer-literate workers grows. Digital design looks to improve on the current number of jobs, approximately sixty-six thousand, with a positive eight percent growth rate. While this growth rate pales in comparison to computer programmers, it allows many new artists the chance to find quality employment in jobs of their choosing. The median pay for these artists is just under sixty thousand dollars per year, with an average starting salary of forty-three thousand dollars.

Educational Requirements

Strictly speaking, a computer animator does not necessarily need to pursue education in order to work their craft if they have the computer skills and artistic talent that would make an employer or contractor demand their work. For the vast majority of animators, however, advanced studies in computing and design will be necessary in order to find employment.

A four-year degree in computer design will provide students with the capabilities for image rendering and animation. Studies include comprehensive overviews of image editing programs like Adobe Photoshop and drawing tools like Corel, as well as art classes that teach students how to create contrasts of color and lighting to develop realistic and aesthetically pleasing pictures or animations.

Work Opportunities

Nearly every business today relies on computer animators to bring their images and videos to vibrant life. Corporations employ these artists in order to create brand images used online, on television, and in magazines. Individuals with a particular creative streak may be able to find employment creating two- and three-dimensional images in films, television shows, or video games. Many of the images you see on a daily basis have been created, edited, or rendered by these artists, ranging from the covers of magazines to digital commercials to entire movies.

Job Environment

Perhaps the greatest benefit of working as a computer animator is that most artists are able to do freelance work from the comforts of their own home. While many prefer to have steady employment in a media production company, freelancers can take whichever projects they enjoy and charge whatever rates they believe they can get for their services. The nature of creating digital art means that hours for the job tend to fluctuate, sometimes wildly, especially for freelance workers.

An artist who needs only five hours in one week to complete a computer model image rendering may need to burn the midnight oil the next week in order to complete a task by the deadline. In general, three types of specialties exist for an educational path: computer games, animation of characters, and movie special effects. Students are recommended to choose one specialty and pursue coursework according to their preference.

Career Advancement

While advanced classes in computer animation can help potential computer artists to develop a more well-rounded portfolio, career advancement in the animation world does not necessarily depend on animation education. In fact, many computer artists who are interested in opening their own firm may be better off pursuing business and management education, such as an MBA, in order to enhance the business skills needed to communicate with both contractors (such as film and video game developers) and employees. Advanced courses in computer artistry may be more practical for an artist who wishes to teach, rather than employ their craft directly.