Computer animation careers fall under the category of graphic artists or "artists and related workers," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS says jobs in that general field are expected go grow faster than average for all occupations through 2016. Design firms and software companies offer a variety of computer-animation jobs for candidates who have completed formal training at a college and have some training and experience working with today's leading design and animation software programs.
High School Education Requirements
Students who are particularly proficient in information processing, mathematics, art, painting and drawing and design classes may be strong candidates for pursuing computer animation careers. Some high schools such as the McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C., offer a career and technical education program in which students can take 3D animation, programming and software courses to better prepare them for college and a career in computer animation.
College Course Requirements
Animation schools that offer specialized computer animation degree or diploma programs teach students all of the different phases of the animation design and production process, and give students a chance to create a portfolio for prospective employers. Computer animation schools such as Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida offer bachelor's and associate's degrees in computer animation and digital arts, and teach students fundamental concepts in storyboarding, layout and design, texturing, visual effects, compositing, editing, scanning and other specialized areas.
According to diplomaguide.com, some of the critical career skills acquired by completing a computer animation degree program include character creation skills, editing and storyboarding skills, drawing skills, advanced computer skills, computer aided design (CAD) skills, animation production and preproduction skills and communication skills. All of these are important for pursuing a career as a game designer, storyboarder, animator or special effects artist in the field of computer animation.
Computer Animation Job Training
Even though many animation schools and universities offering computer-animation degree programs offer hands-on training as part of their education requirements, students will need to complete on-the-job training to learn specific procedures and processes. Computer-animation schools may help students find an internship to earn credit hours working in the field, and this gives students a chance to work under the supervision of an experienced computer graphic artist, storyboarder, animator, editor or game designer. Some companies may also offer on-the-job training as a benefit of employment.
On asktheheadhunter.com, Michael Klouda of Klouda Studios says job opportunities in the computer animation industry are plentiful and that computer-graphics specialists are in demand in industrial animation, virtual reality, theme-park design, broadcast graphics and also for scientific and medical research. In addition to computer-based courses, students studying for a computer animation degree or completing courses for professional development will need advanced training in photography and film, drawing and scriptwriting. Candidates for computer-animation jobs need experience with software packages such as Lightwave, Kinetix 3D Studio Max, Alias PowerAnimator/Maya, and Softimage, says Klouda.
In 2009, individuals who meet all animation job requirements usually earned $36,634 to $50,209 with less than one year of experience in the industry and their specialization, according to payscale.com. Animators with five to nine years of experience earned $49,227 to $76,115 per year. Adigitaldreamer.com says the average annual salary for computer animators and multimedia artists was about $44,000, and those that worked in the video and motion picture industry earned a median of about $60,000.