The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a $63,440 mean annual wage for animators and multimedia artists in May 2010. An average annual wage of $33,840 was paid to the lowest ten percent of earners. The middle 50 percent earned an average of $58,510 annually and the highest ten percent were paid $99,830 yearly. The video and motion picture industries were the top payers at this time, providing an annual mean wage of $72,380. Information services, trade and technical schools, software publishers, and aerospace parts and products manufacturers were other top paying industries.
The video and motion picture industries employed the largest number of animators and multimedia artists, by far. Other top employing industries were software publishers, specialized design services, computer systems design and related services, and public relations, advertising, and related services. To get the best paying jobs, animators and multimedia artists move to states like California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia, each of which paid an annual mean wage greater than $62,000 in May 2010. The lowest paying states offered an annual mean wage of between $29,060 and $46,420 and included Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
Animator Job Description
Animators are artists who create two or three-dimensional images that depict objects in motion on video, film, computers, or another form of electronic media. Story development, editing, cinematography, and directing are sometimes applied to develop storyboards depicting animation flow and mapping out characters and key scenes. The final animations are used in products or creations like commercials, music videos, movies, computer games, and television.
Animator Job Outlook
Employment growth for artists in general is predicted to be approximately 12 percent from 2008 through 2018, which is about as fast as the average for other occupations. Due to the number of people who have creative abilities, job competition for both freelance and salaried jobs is expected to be keen. For animators specifically, demand is predicted to increase as consumers request video games that are more realistic, 3D animated movies, and television and movie special effects. Animators will also see increased demand from areas like scientific research and design, while lower priority forms of animation will be offshored. As of May 2010, California, New York, Washington, Texas, and Illinois had the highest employment levels for multimedia artists and animators, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Animator Education & Training
O*Net career site surveyed a sampling of animators and found that 20 percent had attended college but did not have a degree, 19 percent had an associate’s degree, and 62 percent had a bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that animators should have a bachelor’s degree due to the level of technical expertise required in this occupation. Without formal schooling or some form of training, animators have a difficult time gaining the necessary skills.
Many U.S. colleges and universities have fine arts bachelor degree programs that involve the study of studio art and art history. Computers are increasingly used in visual arts, so many educational programs feature training in computer techniques. Independent design and art schools also provide fine and multimedia arts training that leads to certificate or degree. These programs usually feature a more intense focus on studio work. In 2009, approximately 300 postsecondary schools held accreditation from the Association of Schools of Art and Design for their design or art programs.
Occupations that utilize artistic skills similar to those required for animators include commercial and industrial designers, photographers, woodworkers, and graphic designers. Commercial and industrial designers create the function, quality, safety, and style of almost all manufactured goods. Photographers create and preserve images that record an event, tell a story, or paint a picture. Woodworkers design, custom craft, and test wood products in shops with specialized tools. Graphic designers resolve communication problems through the planning, analysis, and creation of visual solutions.