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June 13, 2019

How to Get Started in a Career in Animation

All over the world, you can find talented artists looking to break into the animation world. The demand for animators is growing due to the need for more advanced animations and graphics for everything from movies to mobile devices. Despite the fact that the field is expanding quickly, it’s still an extremely competitive field, but getting the right job is worth the effort it takes. There’s a wide variety of animations jobs out there, so you’re likely to find something that meets your exact area of expertise. Some of the most popular careers include technical director, texture animator, 3D modeler, cartoon animator, and video game designer.

Many careers in animation also have a decent salary, the average salary for most animation careers is around$60,000. Animation is the perfect career choice for determined artists who want to continuously learn more about their craft. Jobs for animation tend to require long hours to meet deadlines, but animators agree that the reward of bringing their characters to life is worth it. With animation, you won’t even have to settle down with just one job. Many animators choose to freelance so they can create their own schedules, work from home, and work on more varied projects.

Here are a few tips that can help you get on track to get a career at some of the top animation companies.

Skills required

The technical skills that are animators need to have may vary depending on the job. Most job listings for animation requires a person to be highly skilled in Adobe (News - Alert) programs like Photoshop and AfterEffects.

Some soft skills that are required:

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Creativity
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail

What should you major in?

Most people working in animation have a bachelor’s degree. Majors that can help you get a job in animation vary, as skills learned in many majors are transferable to animation. The obvious choice for a major for those looking to work in animation is an animation degree, but that’s not the only one. Other majors to be considered are fine art, graphic design, and visual arts. Depending on the college, there will likely be a number of minors that will accompany these majors nicely. Some might even choose to further their education post-college and get a master’s degree.

What if you don’t have a formal education?

Don’t panic if you don’t have a college degree or if your degree is in an unrelated field. While having a four-year degree can be helpful to get your foot in the door, it isn’t a complete necessity to work in animation. If you can show that you have the skills to be a talented animator, that could be all you need to land a job. Many people also claim that online tutorials, many of which are free, are equally good at teaching animation skills. In addition to tutorials, there are also courses and certificates you can get online.

Create a great portfolio

For anyone looking to apply to animation jobs, they’ll need to have a portfolio showcasing their work. Two great options for this are DeviantArt and Pinterest. Many people put their work on either a DVD and a website as well. You should also have hard copies of your work. When you're deciding on what work to include in your portfolio, you should think about the company you’re applying to. You should have different options for your portfolio, as you would with a resume, depending on what skills you need to highlight for the job.

Do work for free

While everyone wants to be compensated for their creative work, sometimes you have to do some work for free. This will help you build up your experience and network. You’ll likely end up having to do some work for free, but there’s still a good chance you can pick up some free work while you’re starting out. You can also gain new skill from taking different types of jobs and find what works best for you.

Accept criticism

One of the hardest parts of working in animation is getting used to criticism and rejection. Often people will say they don’t like your work and many won’t respond to it at all. Being turned down and people disliking can be discouraging enough to make you want to give up on your career. Your work won’t be right for every job at every company, but you’ll eventually find the right position. 

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