Question about animator salaries

:spin:Ok so im taking career connections at my school and i want to be a computer animator. So i ask my teacher, and she says its under graphic desinger. Once i look that up I see they earn to 26,456-45,546 $ that not alot. I read that some animators make way more money that that. SO I’m worried help

I don’t believe that there is a degree for computer animation per se; I’m pretty sure you would end up with some kind of associates degree in computer graphics, or a bachelors degree in graphic design. Computer animation is a specialty, and you really can’t be a computer animator if you lack artistic abilities. On the subject of money, I doubt that many animators are making much money, if any, during the recession. One thing to keep in mind is that you should go with a career that you will enjoy - that’s what matters most. Money doesn’t mean anything if you wake up and hate going to work every day. But one other thing though is that even if there was no recession going on, the competition is still tough - think of it as survival of the fittest.

Well said. Ever heard of starving artists? It’s common. Musicians, sketchers, painters, CG artists, yup, some of us are extremely unemployed. The CGartists?, they’re here!

Assuming you actually get a salary. California has a 60% UNemployment rate. Depending on where you are and your connections, you have the option of the whole freelance side, which then you have to multiply any kind of hourly rate by the probability that you will actually get work and how long it might last.

One thing I would highly suggest is majoring in some other career field that has a higher employment rate (but you still enjoy), and minoring in graphic design. Graphic design is not usually an area of high demand, and the competition, like I said before, is quite tough. It would be best to not throw all of your beans in one basket, so to speak. You would be surprised at how many people end up using one or the other for their lifelong career(s).

For example, I was originally going to get a bachelors degree in graphic design, but I decided that the job outlook (and this was in the Fall of 2008) was not good enough to justify spending $40,000 on tuition. You know what career field I chose? Computer Information Systems. I am not minoring in anything. One of my coworkers from last school year graduated this past May, and he already had a job offer from the previous summer. Now he is in company training, and he’s on track to make over $80,000 his first year.

If you want to make money as an animator, you should look into something much more than just a typical college. Get into an arts college like Ringling or something geared towards animation specifically. If you want to do that, then do it 100%, because being a mediocre animator will land you squarely into a huge pile of starving artists. There are a lot of animators out there right now looking for work due to downsizing and closing up of game studios and animation houses.

But by and large, if you want to make money, then don’t be an animator. Don’t be an artist at all. Artists do not make money. Yeah, some of them make it big and get to start their own massive website or end up designing the bad-guys for the big sci-fi movies and stuff. Those guys make up about 1% of all the artists currently working, and all of the currently working artists probably make up about 5% of the total number of artists competing for jobs. It’s not really the sort of career you get into to make money with. A lot of artists actually hold down other types of careers and just do art jobs on the side as freelancers. That’s probably the smartest way to go about it, and I’ve been considering doing something like that myself, since I already have a job outside the art field.

Ask yourself if you’re prepared to make sacrifices to make art, or if you’d rather have a stable income and just enjoy doing freelance work when you can get it.

Not sure where that idea came from, when I was at uni the design courses were among the first ones to fill all their places. Graphic design as a subject is a massively oversubscribed, saturated market, in exactly the same way as all the other “creative” jobs.

All the freelancers I know and work with do not have a formal education past the age of 18. They all started off at the bottom and worked their way up. Put the hours in logging tape for your local TV station - you never know where it might take you…

How many of those unemployed are surfers ? I’d be one too . . . spending your days in the ocean … now there’s a wonderful life. I could easily whittle away the crisis with a board under most of the day.

thanks man that really opened my eyes really. I love animating but if im going to be a (starving artist ) then forget maybe just freelance and be a lawyer or somthing


I’m currently going to a school with a BS in Media Arts and Animation, the Art Institute schools. The numbers you got sound about right for a starting animator, but with experience you can make upwards of $65,000 - $80,000. depending on how much work you have, where you work and how good your work is. The tuition here just to give you an idea is around $80,000, probably more now.

In my opinion, having seen and talked with people here and gone through the system, I’d say start out with tutorials. There is a lot you can learn straight from the internet. The main reason to go to one of these schools is 1. Friends and contacts 2. Experience from the teachers and 3. the diploma. Having friends and knowing people in the industry is more important that the degree (Not that its not important). But it’s still possible to get a job in the industry with nothing but an awesome demo reel. So bottom line learn all you can and make lots of friends that can get you jobs.

thanks man so how is life in an art college

ps: if you don’t mined me asking how are you paying for it

Well i like it a lot but I’m ready to be done with it. I love learning and everyone here is great but I’m tired of being told what to learn because i have to fill the list of classes. I’m actually almost done, i mostly have portfolio classes coming up next and a few other easy general classes. Honestly though the best thing i like about going to the college is meeting my friends, all of them are into what I’m into and are the kind of friends you keep for life, and learning from the awesome teachers. I actually found blender cause one of the teachers mentioned it off hand as a software and that it was free.

But the kicker is the cost, i had to take loans since I’m by no means rich. I want to be on Deal or No Deal so bad! Looking back i could have learned everything i know now online with free or “borrowed” software. But i personally don’t think i would have had the motivation to follow through, plus i wouldn’t have known where to start looking, and i wouldn’t have met the fabulous people i met here. So over all it was a very positive experience that was worth , reluctantly, $80,000.

My advice try out animation with blender and gimp first, make a few peices and start figuring out what you like about it. Start putting together a reel and try and meet people who can both help you and challenge you. And while you do all this research different schools and make sure you find one that’s right for you, and in the right location! Watch movies and see what companies do the animations, then call them and see what the jobs are like.

All in all its really rewarding! The people are mostly creative, goofy, nerdy, fun loving people that like making cool stuff. Lots of places want you to be creative so they do stuff like give you toys and candy to make things fun to keep you creative and happy.
The money might not be the greatest in the world but it can be a super fun, and super demanding job, thats really rewarding.

Sorry for the long post! :stuck_out_tongue:

im already working with gimp and blender,here a personel qustion are you ready for the industry?

I’m going to be working on my portfolio for the next two quarters, and geting what i have up to industry standards. But I’m pretty confident that if i were to get a job right now it wouldnt take me long to get up to speed. I’m sure I’d learn a lot of short cuts and to be much faster but pretty familiar with most things related to the process of making an animation or a video game, since games are what my actual degree is going to be for. So yes I think I am, i just need work now to prove it. :eyebrowlift:

I really want to animate in games that is my dream,im curios to know what school are you attending


A big part of what you could make is based on your salary negotiation. This the haggling part of any profession that can be a headache. If you apply to a large studio you will deal with recruiters (also called headhunters) whose job is to get you as cheap as possible. This can be a long process. I have been in negotiation for nearly 3 weeks with Imageworks. And that didn’t start for a good 3 weeks after my interview had taken place. There are more jobs then just being an animator in this industry. Technical director positions normally get paid very well, and not all of them require you to be a die hard programmer.