Study Animation: Associates, Bachelors & Online Degree Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's and bachelor's degree in animation? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses in animation.
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Animation Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

An undergraduate degree in animation will prepare graduates for entry-level employment as an animator or visual artist. These programs will teach students how to create graphics and visual effects for the multimedia industry. While an associate's degree will provide students with basic skills in the field, those who continue their education at the bachelor's degree level will obtain additional skills and become proficient in animation software programs. However, prospective employers will look more favorably on what an applicant can do artistically, compared to the educational level they have obtained. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animators are expected to see an 8% growth in employment from 2010 to 2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to gain basic animation skills Those who want advanced animation skills
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Illustrator ($53,000) *
- Graphic designer ($49,000) *
- Animator ($68,000*) *
- Art director ($96,000) *
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 20-24 courses
- Portfolio
- About 40-48 graduate level courses
- Portfolio
Prerequisites - High school diploma - High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Associate's Degree in Animation

An associate's degree in animation will provide students with the technical and artistic skills necessary to work in this profession. Students will learn how to create professional animations for companies and communicate with different types of professionals. Courses teach students how to create 3D animation pictures and images. The program will cover areas involving figure drawing, digital modeling, texturing and lighting. Opportunities may also be available to create a portfolio or participate in an internship.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Work in a creative field
  • Demand in animation for video games will spur job growth*
  • Work in a comfortable environment

Cons

  • Jobs may be sent overseas*
  • High competition for job openings; you may up against people who have advanced training in this field*
  • Some employers may not require a degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

An associate's degree program in animation will combine animation courses with general education requirements. General education requirements typically include courses in psychology, English, mathematics and sociology. The 2-year program covers many different animation topics, including basic drawing, design and color, digital 3D and animation concepts. The animation portfolio will be a collection of your work that will highlight your artistic capabilities

Online Course Options

Students who are working or unable to complete courses on-campus can find online animation programs at the associate's degree level. Courses in an online program will be the same as those offered on campus. Instructors will educate students through online tutorials, readings and lectures. Students will also need to have certain technical requirements, including high-speed Internet, updated Web browser and software programs.

How to Stand Out

A strong portfolio will help a student stand out in this field. Also, having strong technical skills and being proficient in different animation software programs will give you an advantage when looking for jobs. It's also important to work well within a team structure, because studios will often have larger projects that require the services of many different animators.

Bachelor's Degree in Animation

A bachelor's degree in animation will provide students with an opportunity to complete higher level courses in animation and gain advanced skills in the field. In addition to teaching students about drawing and utilizing animation computer programs, opportunities will usually be available to gain storytelling skills and learn about the business-side of animation. Because students will take additional classes and complete more projects than in an associate's program, they can put together a more comprehensive portfolio that will reflect their talent and skills in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Gain additional skills in the field
  • Self-employment opportunities*
  • Can work from home

Cons

  • Deadlines may be stressful
  • May need to work on nights and weekends
  • Compete with associate's degree graduates for entry-level jobs

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

While students will gain basic animation skills during the first two years of the program, they will take higher level courses in the final two years. You'll learn about lighting and shading, character development, storytelling, animation design and development, motion capture and scene finishing. The portfolio course will give you an opportunity to work with faculty members to assemble your best work into a presentable package for employers.

Online Course Options

An online bachelor's degree program is going to provide you with more flexibility when completing courses. While students will have general deadlines, they will be able to access the course management website whenever it is convenient for them to complete assignments and view lectures. Communication will take place through e-mail, discussion boards and chat rooms.

How to Stand Out

Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree will have additional skills in the field that could prove beneficial when looking for jobs; however, having strong artistic and creative abilities will make you stand out. Bringing characters to life and coming up with stories will also separate you from other animators who are only able to create images and pictures.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
  • Sioux City, IA

    Western Iowa Tech Community College

  • Parkersburg, WV

    West Virginia University at Parkersburg

  • Saratoga, CA

    West Valley College

  • Paducah, KY

    West Kentucky Community and Technical College

  • Cranford, NJ

    Union County College

  • Morganton, NC

    Western Piedmont Community College

  • Chicago, IL

    Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

  • Seattle, WA

    The Art Institute of Seattle

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

    The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Communications

What is your highest level of education?

Western Iowa Tech Community College

West Virginia University at Parkersburg

West Valley College

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

Union County College

Western Piedmont Community College

Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy