How To Become an Animator

by Jordan Fabel | Last Updated: December 1, 2021

Do you love to draw and create? If you enjoy art, you might want to learn how to become an animator. There are many benefits to this type of career and it can be an exciting career field.

Before you enter into any career, you should learn the job duties. You should also understand the steps to enter that career. Let’s look at the job duties and how to become an animator with a step-by-step guide.

How To Become an Animator

Job Duties of an Animator

As an animator, you will be a multimedia artist. Your job will be to draw a series of images and create movement. Many animators use advanced computers and animation software.

While you might think of cartoons when you think of animation, there are other opportunities, too. As an animator, you may be asked to create hand-drawn images, along with two-dimensional or three-dimensional art. It’s common for animators to work on motion pictures, websites, video games, TV commercials, and more.

You might even specialize in motion graphics and stop-motion films. As an animator, you will need an artistic background. Some of the common job duties will include:

There are many job duties an animator may take on. The main job is to serve the client and bring their ideas to life.

How To Become an Animator in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Finish High School

As you work through your high school years, you want to take as many art and computer design types of courses as you can. This can help you decide whether you want to become an animator or if it’s not the right career for you. Plus, it will make the next step a bit easier.

It’s best if you do well in high school. A high GPA, along with high SAT and ACT scores help you get into a better college program. Using the right SAT and ACT prep courses will help you score higher.

Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

You will need to spend four years getting a bachelor’s degree in animation. You can specialize during your degree program in website animation, video gaming, special effects, visual effects, media animation, or even video animation. During your bachelor’s degree pogrom, you will take courses in drawing, 2D and 3D animation, graphics, multimedia, and art.

You will start with general education requirements for your degree. Before you start taking your upper-level courses, you will want to choose your specialty. This will help to determine the courses you take and the training you need.

Step #3 – Start Adding to Your Portfolio

As an animator, you will need a portfolio. Adding to this portfolio throughout college and in the first few years of this career will help you land better job opportunities. Create and update your digital art portfolio often to keep it fresh.

This is something you want to do throughout your college years. Whether you take on an internship, create animation in a college course, or do it as a job, add to your portfolio whenever you can.

Step #4 – Get Experience

If you want to move your career in the right direction, you want to gain experience. You can work as a freelance animator, volunteer for non-profit groups, complete an internship, or even enter online animation contests. Any form of education during your undergraduate studies can make you a better candidate for entry-level positions.

Most entry-level positions will make you an assistant under an animator. Any hands-on experience you can get will help build your resume. Start gaining experience as soon as possible.

Step #5 – Get a Graduate Degree

While it’s not required to become an animator, you can get a graduate degree. Master’s degree programs are available for animators to help you gain senior-level positions. You can choose to specialize even further with a master’s degree.

Many animators will complete a master’s program to gain the benefit of a higher salary. You will also be able to teach animation if you have a master’s degree.

Common Skills for Animators

When you want to become an animator, it’s best to develop the right skills. Here are some of the top skills you should consider developing if you want to become an animator.

Patience

As an animator, it can take quite a bit of time and you might need to make several adjustments. Patient people make for better animators.

Communication Skills

You will likely work with a team and clients regularly. This means you will need to develop excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Computer Skills

Animators often work with computer software. While some hand-drawn images will be necessary, computer animation is more popular today. Make sure you know how to use the top animation software options.

Attention to Detail

Animation is often about the details. A small change can make a big difference. With great attention to detail, you will become a better animator.

Creativity

Yes, you need to be creative to become an animator. You will have to bring ideas to life, create characters, and make the entire concept become real.

Confidence

Animators will need to have confidence. Part of the job may include giving presentations to secure funding or receive feedback.

You want to develop these skills if you want to become an animator. It’s also important for animators to be able to take direction and have a good work ethic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Animator

How much can I make as an animator?

Your salary as an animator depends on whether you’re a 2D animator or a 3D animator. As a 2D animator, you will make around $24 per hour, according to Indeed.com. Some locations pay a bit higher and some employers will pay a bit higher, too.

If you become a 3D animator, the pay is slightly lower at about $23.66 per hour. Working in New York or California may lead to a higher salary, however.

The average salary for an animator is about $18 per hour. Some employers pay quite a bit more and you can earn over $90K per year if you work for the right company.

According to TheBalanceCareers.com, the average salary for an animator is about $70K per year. The top 10% can earn closer to $123K, while the bottom 10% earn closer to $40K.

What types of animation can I go into?

There are several types of animation you can specialize in. While you can also specialize in specific areas of animation, the common types of animation will include:

You can go into any of these types of animation. Some animators specialize in more than one type.

What type of job positions will I be able to land as an animator?

When you get a degree in animation, you can become many different things. There are many jobs out there for animators including:

Some other positions may also be available for animators.

Is this career growing?

Animators are projected to grow by about 8% over the next ten years. This type of career will grow as video games, television, movies, and special effects grow. Compared to the average of all occupations, the career of an animator is growing a little faster than the average.

What type of work schedule does an animator work?

If you become an animator, you will likely work more than 40 hours per week. It’s common for animators to work nights, weekends, and holidays. This is especially true when deadlines are approaching.

What is the work environment like for an animator?

Many animators work as freelancers and work from home. It’s common for animators to work in a business office environment. You may work for a software company, publishing company, film studio, or advertising agency.

Do I need a degree to become an animator?

Technically, you don’t need a degree to become an animator. You can become a freelance animator with an excellent portfolio and no formal education. However, you will likely need to gain enough training to create the type of animation your clients will need.

Getting a college degree will add to your credibility. If you want to work for an employer, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree or higher. Most companies won’t hire animators without a degree.

When you learn how to become an animator, it makes it easier to choose this career path. You can become an animator with a degree or without. Your career path is up to you. This could be the right option for you if you’re a creative person with art skills.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!