Animation is no longer just ‘cartoons’ for kids but a major creative force in many industries. It is used in media, entertainment, education, and business sectors extensively. The demand for animation has led to the demand for skilled animators who combine the talent and know-how to meet various industry needs. Every day there are more software solutions with advanced features to help creative designers and animators create more magic. It is an exciting time to be a part of the animation industry.
Animation is an exciting and creative career with qualified professionals in increasing demand. Students considering a career in the booming animation industry can explore a wide range of courses and degree programs to help them get started. These programs offer rigorous training, both in the theory and practice of animation. Students can pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in animation at a traditional four-year college, community college, or art school. These can be Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees that are awarded upon completion. If you are considering transferring into an online programs, you might find some great values in our ranking of these affordable online colleges for transfer students.
Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree in animation, graduates can look for animator or graphic designer positions in various industries. With an associate’s degree, they can get into entry-level jobs in animation or apply their skills in other industries, such as advertising or publishing. Those who wish to grow in this field and take more responsibilities may need to get a master’s degree in animation and related fields.
What is animation?
Animation is an art form or rather an artistic method in which drawings or figures are made to appear as if they are moving. Traditional or classical 2D animation is a method where images are drawn by hand on transparent celluloid sheets, then photographed and represented on film. Animation has evolved since then and today most animations are created with software and computer-generated imagery (CGI).
There are many reasons to study animation. Students passionate about using their imagination to create videos, films, or presentations will find a home here. They learn to use traditional as well as other modern forms of animation that will allow them to present their ideas to wide audiences. They can also learn many transferable skills that are relevant to other careers and sectors. All in all, these programs set students up for success so that they can graduate with great job prospects with a high earning potential.
Benefits of an animation degree
- An associate’s degree in animation allows students to get a strong foothold into the industry with entry-level roles
- An animation major lets students develop their key hard and soft skills and also trains them in computer applications
- A master’s degree in animation allows students to hone their skills further and prepare for leadership roles
- Most animation degree-holders work in the film, TV, business sectors, and video game industries
- Animation degrees are offered on-campus and online as well. The latter works well since most animation is done digitally these days
Reasons to study animation
Students enrolled in animation programs have an exciting time studying current and historical works and experimenting with different forms of animation as they create their own ideas. They learn to design motion graphics for commercials and film, develop web-based shorts inspired by anime or Hollywood, and produce live-action videos. Here’s a quick look at the top reasons to study animation:
- Showcase your ideas: Animation is a powerful platform for learning, teaching, and transferring knowledge. An animation degree will open up myriad opportunities for students. They can showcase and reach an audience on an international scale with their creations and positively impact people. Animation is a versatile art form, and it can be used equally well for business and education, as for the media and entertainment industries. Thanks to its versatility and universal appeal, there are a lot of crossover options between these fields.
- Explore your creativity: Animation can be a comfort zone for the creative-minded and those passionate about design. There are practically no limits to what one can create through animation, which is why this field continues to attract students who wish to explore their creativity more. Animation degrees provide a versatile platform and train students to showcase their ideas, themes, and characters. Students continue to follow their passion for creativity as they graduate and get into the workforce.
- Learn transferable skills: An animation degree, be it online or on-campus, teaches students more than subject-specific skills. They learn the history and theory of animation along with model-making, puppetry, and drawing among other creative skills. But that is not all. Animation programs also teach students a range of transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers. These include project and time management, communication, creativity, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills. Studying for a degree in animation will equip students with various skills that are relevant to other careers and industries, thus making them highly sought-after graduates.
- Be in demand: Talking of being highly sought-after, the demand for animators and visual effect experts is set to grow exponentially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in this sector will grow by a whopping 16% through 2030, which is much faster than average. The increased use of animation in every sector, from social media to digital media and business has led to this demand. The growth in digitization and the increasing popularity of entertainment and gaming have further fueled the rise of the need for animators.
- Enjoy great career potential: As mentioned above, the BLS has stated that jobs in this sector will see rapid growth in the next decade, due to animation’s popularity and diversity. Due to their specialized set of skills, animators earn average salaries of $70,000 and above per year. Students holding a degree in animation can expect career opportunities in graphics design, production, e-learning, advertising, and much more. They can work as animators, character and background designers, art directors, special effects artists, graphic designers, game designers, or illustrators, in a range of different organizations. The global animation market will experience a 5.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2030. On-campus and online animation programs are designed specifically for providing students with the right skills to start their journey in the world of animation.
Is Animation a Good Major?
A degree in animation will open doors to many job opportunities for students and in a variety of industries. Those who have a passion for art and creativity will find that animation is a good major for them to consider. The intersection of art in traditional animation and technology in modern animation gives another layer to the degree and increases the demand for animators. The undergraduate degree in animation teaches students the animation skills to pursue a variety of career paths. They learn to create art forms by hand and also use advanced software to express ideas and information.
What will you learn in an animation degree online or on-campus?
Animation majors take a variety of courses as they work towards their degrees. These courses cover art, technology, drawing, history, and foundational studies in animation, along with the creative and practical aspects of the field. They help cultivate the animation skills of students and prepare them for successful careers. A quick overview of courses:
- History of Animation
- Multimedia Storytelling
- Foundations of Studio and Design
- Digital Tools for Animation
- The Principles of Animation
- Character Set and Design
- Computer Animation
- Motion Graphics
What can you do with a degree in animation?
A degree in animation, be it an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree, will open many doors for students so that they can explore various career paths. Here is a quick overview of the top careers one can get into with an animation degree.
- Animator or animation artist: An animation artist creates a wide variety of animations by adding movement into still art. They can work for various businesses, gaming or tech companies, in television and film. They could be creating animations for commercials or promotions when they work as an animator in advertising. They could be creating characters that come to life for their audience as character animators. Graduates who join mobile game development companies develop characters for games and avatars for gamers. Those who go into advertising and digital media companies create digital animation advertising and branding campaigns through their animations. The average annual salary for an Animator is $57,634
- Web Developer: Web developers are in charge of creating, updating, and maintaining websites. They work for a wide range of companies and across industries because everybody and every business needs a website. Animation skills come in handy for professionals who want to be more creative and add some design elements to their web development work. The average annual salary for Web Developers is $77,200.
- Graphic Designer: Graphic designers create logos, advertisements, web pages for companies, digital brochures, and much more. They use their design and animation skills to create visual concepts to communicate ideas and inform customers. They are visual storytellers who use traditional animation as well as computer animation. They use a combination of art, technology, and marketing to tell the story of a brand. The average annual salary for Graphic Designers is $53,380
- Film and video editors: Film and video editors work mostly in the television and film industries. They shoot and record motion pictures, television shows, news, sporting events, and documentaries. They perform a wide range of editing and animation tasks that go into making a commercial, movie, TV series, or other shows. Film and video editors and camera operators Once they have the digital footage, they organize it and do any video editing necessary. The average annual salary for Film and Video Editors is $61,900.
- Desktop Publisher: The publishing industry has a lot of scope for animators. Here they work with computers and web publishing software to design page layouts for books, magazines, websites, and other company materials. Animators work with the internet, PDFs, email newsletters, electronic books to create visual displays of information for commercial and electronic distribution. The average annual salary for Desktop Publishers is $47,701.
The above is just an idea of the average salaries for the roles mentioned; it can differ greatly between companies, industries, and even regions. The annual median salary for other animation careers and titles like Art Directors is $97,270, while Multimedia Artists and Animators can earn anything between $69,200-$92,250. Big profit companies and large organizations often have higher salary structures than smaller companies.
While a bachelor’s degree in animation is a prerequisite for many of these careers, some offer easy entry with an associate’s degree as well. Animation is a competitive field, so more advanced degrees will provide students with an edge over others.
Students can major in animation but also choose from alternative majors like a degree in computer graphics, fine arts, or a related field. All these are related and help students meet their animation interests and career goals. Students can choose the major or concentration that is best tailored to their goals in a way to be more strategic about getting into their dream careers.
Some students take certification courses to upgrade their skills and add to their qualifications and experience since having the necessary specialized skills for the job is important. Others may opt for master’s degrees to get into more senior roles in the field.
A degree in animation provides students interested in the world of animation with invaluable experience and deep knowledge. There are many different career paths with high earning potential that one may pursue with a bachelor’s degree in animation. While talented individuals can get into the field without the prerequisite qualifications, most employers emphasize a bachelor’s degree in animation. Therefore, graduating from an animation program increases students’ chances of being able to secure a job in animation. They learn new skills and technologies that prepare them to face the professional world once they graduate.
Which is better, on-campus or online animation programs?
There are a large number of universities offering on-campus animation degrees, but at the same time, there are many universities that are beginning to offer accredited online animation programs and online multimedia degrees as well. Designed for working adults, these online programs allow students to take courses from the comfort of their own homes and set their own schedules based on their availability.
Most online programs offer a blend of affordability and flexibility, which is attractive to students. However, that does not mean that these courses do not cover the essentials of animation or are not recognized by employers when it comes to job search. In fact, they are highly rated for their coursework and faculty profiles. More than that, even though they are online, they include a project or internship component so that students can get some hands-on learning experience and prepare for their future careers.
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