Careers in Animation - Choices, Required Skills, Salaries

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The word “animation” stems from a Latin word “animatio” which means “giving life to”. That means if you have chosen to be a professional animator, you would not only be creating moving pictures; rather you would give life to the characters which will seem to be real. Thus, this lucrative career is for those who have flair of passion of creating new things with their own two hands. It’s such a joy to be able to create something that can move, talk, act and make everything seem real.

But the path may seem tough as there is such guidance available which can tell you where to tread and how to direct yourself to be an exceedingly super animator in the world. It all comes down to how you approach your career. Either you can see your career as an opportunity to make money or see it as a way to serve the world and build your legacy. No matter what your purpose is to become an animator, this guide will help you move ahead.

In this career guide, you will know what animation is all about; what would you need to do in order to give a jumpstart to your animation career; how should you become job-ready; the top-notch companies which are offering jobs to great animators over the years; the set of skills you need to acquire and master in order to become best in your craft; the honorarium you can expect from your job as an animator; and lastly how you can go for any higher education if you feel the need to have an edge over other fellow animators.

How would we define Animation?

The best animators in this world don’t take the work of animation as a simple job to perform. Rather they define it in a way that makes sense to people about why they are the best at what they do. The best animators in the world define animation as a way to create new life which emerges as real beings. Our mind always tries to find relatedness.

And if you would like to become a great animator you need to focus most on the matter of relatedness. The character you would create should have certain characteristics which seem relevant to what the character is portraying. If you can master this skill, you would create great animation without any tinge of doubt.

Another factor that defines animation so very well is your ability to look upon a thing and present it aesthetically. Not everyone has the skill or ability to look at something and just mirror the same in their creation. This single thing can create huge difference in the world of animation.

Where to start?

The first step is always the hardest, at least it seems like so. When you hear of animation, the first thing you think – Is creativity required for being a great animator? The answer is a resounding yes. But if you seem to believe that you don’t have any creativity, you are utterly wrong. Because we all have creativity! Some nurture it and most of us let our creativity get tarnished by the criticisms of other people or plain lack of practice.

If you seem to believe that you don’t have creativity, try this out first. Every day in the morning, after getting up, write a page without thinking. You don’t need to edit it or make everything right. Just get up, take your pad/paper and write one page before going out of the bed. If you practice it for 30 days straight, you will see the creative energy you are feeling while writing those pages. The sentences would be different, your writing will improve and your communication to yourself will improve. Creativity lies in all of us, we just need to trust the fact and nurture it.

The second belief about animation is that it is all about drawing. But the best animators in the world are not from the drawing background. There are two schools of thought. One speaks about the essentiality of having drawing background for becoming an extra-ordinary animator. Another school of thought seem to differ to the former proclamation. According to them, animation is not an art of drawing, rather an art of movement.

If one can master the movement, they can master animation; thus there is no drawing background required for effective animation. To blend the two thoughts, you need to understand that having drawing skills may help in becoming a great animator; but if you don’t have any drawing background, you don’t need to reject yourself. You simply need to understand how animation is being done. Read, learn, watch, take a course, go to seminar and gather information about everything that seem to go with what you think animation is. If you are throwing yourself full out, your future is the brightest among many other careers and professions.

How to prepare yourself for cracking the job market?

Go back to the previous section where we talked about how to master creativity by simply writing one page every day after getting up in the morning. You may seem to think what the relation between writing and animation is?! The answer to this question is a very big deal. It matters and here’s how. Before you ever start to create animation, you need to write a story line, the characters, the characteristics of these characters and about the main theme of the story.

If you can learn it well, animation would become easier for you. Think about the simple act of writing a to-do list before you actually start to do the work. Does it help? Definitely! To be able to write a story line well is a skill of master articulator who does his job well.

The second thing you need to consider when you would prepare for cracking the job market is computer programming. If you don’t know computer programming well, you cannot create the illusion of movement without which animation doesn’t have any value. Animation is all about the power of motion and only learning and mastering computer programming can let you do that.

Often what great animators struggle with is the conflicting ideas they receive from their clients. When they create animations they have their own vision. But while presenting the animations to the clients, the clients may ask for different specifications. If you are not good in alignment of clients’ needs and your own vision of creating animation, then it would be difficult for you to be in the market and make your mark.

Top-notch companies that offer jobs for animators

There are a huge list of animation studios all over the world which are always looking for excellent animators who can offer their expertise and skills. The following is a short list of the most sought-after animation studios in the world.

  • Exceptional Minds
  • Bakshi Productions, Inc.
  • Digital District
  • TMS Entertainment
  • Eight VFX
  • Fuzzy Door Productions
  • Luma Pictures
  • Animal Logic
  • Cartoon Network Studios
  • Cinesite
  • Dreamworks
  • Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Moving Picture Company

Skill sets required for being an extra-ordinary animator

The following skill sets are of utter importance to be able to become an extra-ordinary animator.

  • You should have the expertise to be able to make doodles to express your ideas
  • Knowledge of CAD is required to be able to create amazing animations
  • You need to be meticulous and also need to have attention to detail so that you don’t miss out on anything
  • You need to have appreciation of aesthetics
  • Creativity is required for everything that you do in animation
  • You need to have knowledge in computer programming so that you can give life to your characters
  • You also need to have good visual imagination and great colour sense
  • Being a team player is a must as animation cannot be created alone


A career of animation is lucrative. Thus if you are a fresher animator and can do animation well, your honorarium would anything around US $10,000 to $30,000. In foreign countries the package is higher, from US $50,000 to even $100,000.

Higher education opportunities

In India to get in prestigious colleges, you need to have a good NEED (National Entrance Exam for Design Studies) score. If you get good marks you would be able to get admission in MAAC, Mumbai; National Institute of Design; International Academy of Design, Delhi; Jadavpur University; Arena Animation; Maya Academy of Advance Cinematics. If you would like to further your studies you can do course in computer programming and take apprenticeships in renowned studios.

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