Video Game Animator Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a video game animator's career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming a video game animator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Video Game Animation

Video game animators are multimedia artists and animators who specialize in video games. Learn more about the pros and cons of becoming a video game animator to decide if this would be a solid career choice for you.

Pros of Being a Video Game Animator
Higher than average salary potential for animators and multimedia artists (approximately $69,410 in 2014)**
You can pursue some positions without a bachelor's degree*
Skills can be used in related occupations (graphic designer, art director, multimedia artist)**
On-the-job training is available*

Cons of Being a Video Game Animator
Slower than average job growth (six percent from 2012-2022)**
Competition likely for available jobs**
Possibility of stress (workload and deadlines)**
Long work weeks, including nights and weekends**

Source: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Video game animators may be expected to posses certain software knowledge before they are allowed to work. Animators usually work with other artists, such as lead artists and senior artists, to help develop character designs and game layout. Animators utilize light, texture, color and static images to give characters movement and depth. Some employers offer on-the-job training for animators in order to allow them to improve on their skills and learn new techniques.

Job Prospects and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that multimedia artists and animators, including those who worked with video games, would see a six percent employment growth, which is slower than the average for other occupations. The BLS noted that while the demand for effects and animation in video games will continue to grow, much of the work will be outsourced to overseas companies. The average salary for multimedia artists and animators was about $69,410 in 2014, according to the BLS.

What Are the Requirements?

Although not required for all positions, many employers require at least a bachelor's degree, such as the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Game Design or BFA in Digital Art and Animation. Programs like these offer training in areas that include 3-D modeling, logo animation, pre-production, animating stories, life drawing and artificial intelligence.

Some employers will accept applicants with either a certificate or associate's degree in addition to adequate experience. Companies may require prospective video game animators to become familiar with specialized software in addition to submitting a portfolio to demonstrate their artistic abilities.

What Employers Are Looking for

Employers may request applicants with several years of experience, knowledge of industry-specific software, as well as coding and 3-D graphics, and the ability to simultaneously handle multiple projects. The following are a sample of job postings related to video game animation during May 2012:

  • An entertainment company in New York advertised for a technical artist to integrate game art with animation. Job duties included working in a software integrated development environment to create and modify multimedia scripts. This position would also require ensuring that the product adheres to engineering design, regulatory and customer performance expectations.
  • A software development company in San Francisco advertised for a digital artist with a certificate or undergraduate degree to assist in the design of online games. Applicants were requested to submit a portfolio.
  • A gaming company in Chicago advertised for a core artist to create high-caliber art, paying attention to quality in regard to character design, color theory, layout, text treatment and animation ability. The right applicant would be able to develop artistic skills through company training, independent learning and other team members.

How to Stand out in the Field

Although certification specific to video game animation isn't available, you can find professional certification in related areas, such as web graphics, Flash and Adobe After Effects. These credentials are offered through professional organizations and companies, including the International Webmasters Association and Brainbench. According to, participating in internship or job-shadowing opportunities can also help you combine your academic studies with professional practice, which may be beneficial during your job search.

Other Career Paths

The following career paths may be better suited for individuals who enjoy art and animation, but would like to work in fields other than the video game industry.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers work through a variety of mediums in a number of industries. They meet with clients, act as consults, present the finished product and work with writers as well. This position generally requires a bachelor's degree; however, the job outlook is slightly higher at a projected 13% between 2010 an 2020. The average salary for this position was $49,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.

Art Director

Art directors decide how to present visual concepts for TV shows, advertisements, video games and live shows. These directors work with multiple departments and clients to determine their artistic direction and help them develop a budget and a realistic timeframe.

It's recommended that art directors have a bachelor's degree in art or a related field, as well as experience working in a related field, such as graphic design. The BLS predicted that the employment growth for this field would be slower than average at nine percent between 2010 and 2020. However, you will be pursuing a career with a significantly higher average salary, which was about $96,000 in 2011.

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