Becoming a Web Animator: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a Web animator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a Web animator is right for you.
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Web Animator Career: Pros and Cons

Web animators, known more broadly as multimedia animators, create moving, lifelike graphics and illustrations using state-of-the-art 2-D and 3-D computer software models. Read the pros and cons of becoming a Web animator to decide if it's the right career for you.

Pros of a Web Animator Career
Above-average salaries (median annual salaries of about $64,000 in 2014 for multimedia artists and animators)*
Much faster-than-average job growth in some industries (software publishing and computer design)*
Flexible career paths (59% are self-employed)*
Creative work environment*

Cons of a Web Animator Career
Sluggish job growth for multimedia artists and animators overall (six percent from 2012-2022)*
Can work long hours (50-hour weeks with some nights and weekends)*
Competition for jobs due to the attractiveness of the field*
Pressure to meet client expectations and strict deadlines*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Entertainment Software Association.

Career Information for Web Animators

Job Description and Duties

Multimedia animators are animation professionals who can work in a variety of fields. Those who work in Web animation could be responsible for the creation of animations and visual effects used for websites, games and digital media. These professionals typically work with creative directors and other artists to come up with designs and storyboards that shape and dictate the type of animations needed. Web animators may sketch their animations first by hand to help conceptualize projects; however, a variety of computer software programs are used to create mockups and develop products.

Web animators can work independently or directly for companies, and often juggle multiple projects at once. When deadlines approach, they often work overtime, including some nights and weekends, to finish projects and ensure requirements are met. Web animators must also make amendments to projects based on feedback received from creative directors, clients and others.

Career Outlook and Salary

Consumer demand for more realistic graphics and visual effects, as well as more sophisticated technologies available to meet this demand, may help to create jobs for Web animators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growing popularity in gaming, 3-D movies, mobile devices and special effects will help drive employment of these professionals. From 2012-2022, the BLS predicted a job growth of only six percent for multimedia animators overall.

Because this is an attractive field, job openings can be competitive. The BLS expected that the best job prospects would be for those with strong artistic talent and excellent computer graphic skills. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators as of May 2014 was roughly $64,000.

What Are the Requirements?

Employers generally hire Web animators with strong artistic and technical skills. Many of these workers often learn the necessary computer software programs on the job or on their own. While not mandatory, most animators earn bachelor's degrees in fields like computer graphics, animation or fine arts in order to learn the necessary skills and build their portfolios. Among the more important skills in the field are:

  • Creative talent
  • Strong computer skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively on a team
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers generally seek Web animators who are comfortable using computer software programs that are common in the animation and graphic design fields. They also generally look for candidates with bachelor's degrees. Below are some examples of job advertisements that were open during May 2012.

  • A company in Georgia posted a job for an animator with knowledge of Blender (version 2.5 or later) to create illustrations and animations for presentations, trade shows and product simulations. They preferred someone with a bachelor's degree in fine arts, computer animation or graphic design, abilities in computer-generated imagery (CGI) and an understanding of other computer programs like AutoCAD, Illustrator, Gimp and Photoshop.
  • A New York City company advertised for a technical artist to enhance the look and feel of games through game art and animations. The job required a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience and knowledge of Photoshop, Flash and Media Encoder. The job posting also stated that experience in scripting, graphic design and 3-D graphics was required.
  • A company in Virginia was seeking an animator for its multimedia services with experience using Maya, 3-D Studio Max and other similar animation software, as well as experience using mapping software. An ability to incorporate data from multiple sources was also desired.
  • A corporation in Washington was hiring a 3-D animator to develop creative and photo-realistic products for its marketing communications efforts. Qualifications included expert-level skills with Maya, 3-D Studio Max, Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects. They also wanted someone with good design skills and experience using CAD or SolidWorks models.
  • A company located in Akron, OH was hiring a video animator with knowledge of all aspects of video production to create 2-D online media videos. Familiarity with multiple file formats, frame rates and encoding for Web uploads was desired.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Because the field of animation does not necessarily have strict education requirements, earning a degree in animation or in a related field can give you a competitive advantage over others. Many universities, art institutes and technical schools offer degrees and certificates in animation. Consider taking courses in drawing, animation, Web development, Web design, computer programming and film. Building up a solid technical skill set is also essential to qualify for jobs. Studio courses that teach industry-specific software and that provide more applied, hands-on practice can help expand your knowledge and skill set. Some schools may incorporate practicums or internships that can be great ways to gain practical experience and accelerate technical training.

Employers often ask candidates for portfolios that highlight their best work and artistic abilities. As an aspiring Web animator, you'll need to include reels, or short animations, in your portfolio to demonstrate your knowledge using visual effects and animation software. School projects, internships and other work-related experience are great ways to build up a competitive and more professional portfolio.

Other Careers to Consider

Art Director

If you'd like to take on a more creative lead on the overall style and design of graphics and other visual media, additional career options exist. Consider working as an art director to oversee the visual elements of videos, online magazines, newspapers and other visual media. Job prospects for art directors were expected to be particularly good in the area of public relations and advertising, though the BLS expected some competition in the field.

These jobs generally require a bachelor's degree in an art or design field and several years of relevant experience. In turn, these workers have a solid earning potential, with a median annual salary of about $81,000, according to the BLS's May 2011 statistics.

Computer Programmer

If you enjoy working with computers but aren't quite the artistic type, you may be interested in a career developing computer software programs. Computer programmers often write codes or instructions that automate otherwise laborious tasks. They are employed in many industries to improve functionality and make processes operate more smoothly and efficiently. Job opportunities for computer programmers should be best for those with bachelor's degrees or higher and who know multiple programming languages. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of computer programmers was around $73,000 as of May 2011.

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