How to Become an Animator

By Timothy Brauning on July 01, 2022

Without animators, the entertainment industry would be a shell of what it is today. The fascinating world of animators is full of creativity, passion, and hard work, from big-budget films to commercials and video games.

While the job may seem fun, it's quite challenging but also immensely rewarding.

So if you have a creative side and love working with a computer, you may want to consider becoming an animator. Animators create short videos, commercials, and feature films using animation software and their imagination!

Today we will discuss: 

  • The job of an animator
  • The most important responsibilities 
  • how to become an animator
  • Salary expectations
  • Classes & educational resources that can help you pursue this career.

how to become an animator

Table of Contents

What Is an Animator?

An animator is someone who creates animated films or cartoons. They are designers and artists who bring characters and objects to life on the screen. They may work in 2D or 3D animation and use computer graphics or traditional hand-drawn techniques. Animators must have a keen eye for detail and be able to translate their vision into tangible form. 

In general, animators are responsible for creating the characters and scenes that make up an animated film or cartoon. Animators typically have a strong background in art and design and often hold a bachelor's degree in this field. However, with all those new technologies and AI out there, it is possible to become an animator without formal training.

Animators' responsibilities include designing the characters, planning the action, and creating the individual frames that make up the final product. Animators often work closely with directors, writers, and other production team members to ensure that the finished product is faithful to the original vision.

With experience, animators may move into a supervisory or managerial position within their studio. Alternatively, they may choose to freelance or start their own production company. No matter what route they take, animators are passionate about bringing stories and characters to life through their artwork.

What Does an Animator Do?

Many people think that being an animator is all about drawing cute characters and making them move around on the screen. While that is certainly part of the job, there is much more to it than that.

Animators are responsible for creating the illusion of movement. This requires a deep understanding of how bodies move in space, how muscles work, and how light interacts with different surfaces. It also demands a high level of technical skill, as animators often have to work with complex software programs to bring their visions to life. In addition to drawing and programming, animators also need to be able to tell compelling stories.

After all, what good is an amazing character design if there is no emotionally engaging story to go along with it? Therefore, great animators are both artists and storytellers, using their skills to bring excitement and joy to audiences around the world.

Animator Duties and Responsibilities

A typical job description for an animator may include:

  • Brainstorming ideas for new characters or stories;
  • Designing characters and backgrounds;
  • Drawing individual frames or sequences of animation;
  • Incorporating audio and visual effects;
  • Editing finished products;
  • Working with directors and other members of the production team;
  • Provide and receive constructive and innovative feedback;
  • Collaborate with other animators, clients, and producers on projects;
  • Create prototypes and mock-ups of new types of goods;
  • Design ideas with the capacity to create concept sketches and fast concept modifications; 
  • Combine these aspects in your designs to make them more appealing and creative;
  • Comprehend and follow the lead animator's or animation supervisor's instructions.

As an animator, you will need strong drawing skills and proficiency in various animation software programs. A strong portfolio is essential for landing a job in this competitive field. If you have the talent and drive to succeed, a career as an animator can be highly rewarding.

Possible Jobs In Animation

Animation is a field that continues to grow in popularity, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of movies, video games, and other digital media. As a result, there are several different possible jobs in animation, ranging from traditional animators to 3D modelers and everything in between. 

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types of animation jobs, what they do, and some of the software they tend to use:

  • Traditional animators create 2D animations using pencil and paper or paint and celluloid. They create hand-drawn or computer-generated animations using Adobe Flash or Toon Boom Harmony software.
  • 3D modelers create three-dimensional objects and characters that can be used in animations or video games using software such as Autodesk Maya or Blender.
  • Texture artists apply color and textures to 3D models, making them look more realistic.
  • Riggers attach virtual "skeletons" to 3D models so that they can be moved and animated.
  • Lighters add lighting effects to animation sequences.
  • Stop-motion animators create animations by taking pictures of objects that have been slightly moved between each frame.
  • Compositors assemble all the various elements of animation into a final product.
  • Character designers create the look of characters for an animated project.
  • Background artists create the backgrounds for an animated project.
  • Animation directors oversee the entire animation process, from start to finish.

Education Requirements and Qualifications

The following education and experience are often required of Animation Animators:

College degree

Although an animator does not need a college education, most employers prefer to hire individuals with a bachelor's degree in animation, computer graphics, fine arts, or a related field. If you wish to work in the field of animation for video games, you should get a degree in game design or interactive media.

Professional Courses 

Painting, drawing, and sculpting are all examples of coursework. Animation degrees generally include classes in drawing, animation, and film. Interactive media or game design are fields in which many institutions provide specialized degrees.

Self-study and Hands-on Experience

Self-study can help you improve your portfolio and develop your graphics and animation skills. FMC Training Network is a website that provides educational materials and other resources for animation learners.

How Much Do Animators Make? 

The median yearly salary for multimedia artists and animators is $72,520. The lowest 10% of earners make less than $40,870 per year, and the top 10% earn far into six digits. Multimedia artists and animators in the motion picture and video industries earn the most, at $86,080 per year. 

Salaries for multimedia artists and animators vary based on their experience, type of business, and size. They can even differ by location. For example, multimedia artists and animators in Connecticut make an average of $102,630 per year, while South Carolina-based artists average $36,270, the lowest salary for this profession.

The top four highest paying states for multimedia artists and animators are: 

  • Washington ($90,700); 
  • The District of Columbia ($89,210); 
  • California ($87,960);
  • New York ($86,490). 

Animators’ Working Hours

The average animator spends about 12 hours per day working on their animations. They are typically employed by large studios, which require them to work long hours. It is not always the case as smaller companies may be more family-friendly and offer happier staff members who enjoy their time with clients instead of spending all their at computer screens or drawing boards. 

Maintaining such high production standards takes skillful expertise that can only come from years spent learning an artform like animation. It's no wonder then why many seasoned professionals choose these types of careers when they're looking for something stimulating yet creative – where there aren't any dead zones between creativity points A through Z (or even just one).

What Industries Hire Animators?

There are many sectors where you can work with an animation degree. The most common industry is the video game industry. There are also opportunities to work in film, advertising, and television.

The video game industry is one of the largest employers of animators. The industry employs thousands of animators worldwide to create video games' characters, environments, and objects.

The film industry is another major employer of animators. Animators in the film industry work on animated films, stop-motion films, and live-action films with visual effects.

Advertising is another industry that employs animators. Animators in advertising create commercials, infographics, and other visuals for brands and businesses.

Television is the final industry that employs animators. Animators in television create shows, movies, and other visuals for networks and streaming services.

Professional Development

For anyone looking to pursue a career in animation, professional development is essential. There are countless resources available to help animators hone their skills and stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends.

Animation magazines and websites offer news, reviews, and tutorials, while online forums allow animators to connect and share tips and ideas.

Professional development courses and workshops allow animators to learn from industry experts, and many colleges and universities offer degree programs in animation. No matter what level of experience an animator has, there are always opportunities for further learning and development.

By investing in professional development, animators can ensure that they have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this competitive field.

10 Steps to Becoming an Animator

So, you want to be an animator? It's a tough profession to break into, but it's also one of the most rewarding. If you're serious about making a career in animation, here are ten tips to help you get started:

  1. Get a degree in animation. While it's not essential, a degree will give you a solid foundation in the principles of animation and put you ahead of the competition.
  2. Learn the software. The world of animation is increasingly digital, so you must be proficient in the major software programs used by animators.
  3. Be creative. The most successful animators are those who have fresh, original ideas. So start brainstorming and come up with something unique.
  4. Develop your style. Once you've found your creative voice, start refining your style and ensure it's consistent across all your work.
  5. Get some experience—volunteer for small projects or internships to get your foot in the door and build up your portfolio.
  6. Network. Meet other animators and professionals in the industry and start building relationships. You never know when someone might be able to help you out down the line.
  7. Keep learning. The field of animation is constantly changing, so it's important to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.
  8. Be patient. Breaking into the world of animation can take time, so don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately. Stay focused on your goals, and eventually, you'll achieve them.
  9. Build a portfolio. A strong portfolio is essential for landing a job in animation. Start creating a body of work that you can show to potential employers.
  10. Finally, learn from the masters! Take some time to study the work of legendary animators like Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, and Hayao Miyazaki. See what makes their work special and try to emulate it in your work.

Classes To Take For Becoming An Animator

Are you interested in a career in animation? If so, the FMCTraining Network has a variety of courses that can help you get started. We offer classes on everything from character design to storyboarding, and our experienced instructors can give you the skills you need to succeed in this exciting field.

This blog post lists the best animation courses to launch your career! We have a plethora of options for beginners, intermediate animators, and pros.

Our flexible scheduling options make it easy to fit your education into your busy life. So if you're ready to start your journey into the world of animation, check out the FMC Training Network today.

We'll be happy to help you start a successful career in this growing industry.

Join our ever-growing Facebook group and ask any animator questions you might have!

Topics: Video Editing, Career Advice, Adobe, animation, skills, Adobe Certification

FMC provides quality, consistent and accessible training for content creators and IT professionals.

Our courses are designed to help individuals and institutions meet their goals by enabling them to be on the cutting edge of technology.


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