Animators and multimedia artists are professional graphic artists who design and create visual effects for all forms of media. Drawing on their love of the entertainment industry and the visual arts, animators create two- and three-dimensional models, as well as computer-generated images (CGI), for video games, television, movies, and other forms of media. They also make edits to these effects after receiving feedback from directors, designers, and other clients.
Entry into the profession is competitive, with most animators possessing a bachelor's degree in a related field. There are many online degree programs that offer students the opportunity to obtain the knowledge and technical skills necessary to begin a career as an animator. By pursing an animation degree online, students have the ability to study from home with a schedule designed around their busy life. Animation students can expect to take courses in animation principles, storytelling, illustration, 2D and 3D animation, storyboarding, character modeling, and motion graphics.
While anybody can enroll in online animation courses, most online animation degree programs are geared toward individuals who possess the artistic talents and creativity needed to succeed in the profession. Since this field is linked to the entertainment industry, potential students should possess a strong love of animation in various media formats.
Choosing the Right Degree
Although a formal education is not always required to become an animator, thorough knowledge of software and computer applications used in the business is necessary to perform the tasks at hand. Many design studios will provide training that is specific to their processes. However, online degree programs in animation help prepare graduates to enter the job market with a solid understanding of the creative process. Depending on the type of position they wish to obtain, students can choose to pursue animation degrees ranging from certificate programs to master's degrees. This chart includes the various degree levels available and some of the careers those degrees may lead to:
|Degree Level||Length of Completion||Potential Careers|
|Certificate||Certificate programs typically take 1-2 years to complete. They are often geared toward professionals already working in a related industry.||Animator|
|Bachelor's Degree||These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.||Animator, Art Director, Illustrator, Graphic Artist|
|Master's Degree||These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.||Animator, Art Director, Illustrator, Graphic Artist|
As you can see, an online degree in animation can lead to a number different careers in art and entertainment. The type of degree which a student pursues should correspond to the amount of time they wish to spend studying before entering the workforce.
What to Expect in an Animation Program
When entering an online animation degree program, students should expect to receive a well-rounded education in animation and multimedia arts. Animation is an art form that blends acting, filmmaking, illustration, design, and sculpture. Students pursuing an animation degree may be able to specialize in one or more of the following disciplines:
- 2D Animation
- 3D Animation
- 3D Modeling
- Storyboard Creation
- Digital Illustration
- 3D Environmental Art
- Project Management
Choosing an exact specialization while in school isn't always necessary, nor is it always available. However, many animators do choose to specialize once they enter the workforce, working entirely in film, television, video games, or another industry. Regardless of whether a student specializes in one area or becomes proficient in many, earning an online degree in animation can assist students in creating a professional portfolio reel to help them land jobs in the real world.
Of course, the specific curriculum for animation degrees varies from school to school. However, most programs prepare students with many of the same core courses, including:
- Fundamentals of Design
- Observational and Perspective Drawing
- Color Theory
- Principles of Animation
- 3D Modeling
- 2D Animation
- 3D Animation
- Character Design
- Fundamentals of Animation and Film
Depending on the school and type of degree a student is seeking, internship opportunities may be available. These can occur at animation or film studios, allowing students to apply what they have learned as well as make professional contacts for their future careers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most potential employers seek candidates holding at least a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite to employment. Employers are also interested in hiring animators who possess an excellent portfolio of their past work and can demonstrate the strong technical skills needed to be successful in the industry.
The animation program you choose should align with your particular career goals. For instance, if students are looking to sharpen and acquire new skills for their own personal enrichment, a certificate program is probably the right choice. However, if they are looking to embark on a career as an animator or illustrator in the entertainment industry, a bachelor's program is probably the best first step.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
In today's marketplace, knowing how to use multiple computer programs is critical to the success of an animator. An online degree program in animation can help students gain the computer knowledge and skills necessary to use various design programs and write the code needed to succeed at the professional level.
With most animation work involving the use of computers, an online school is a natural fit for any animation student. Message boards, video chat, and online networking events are a great way for students pursuing online degrees in animation to interact with their peers and professors.
Because online programs are generally more flexible than traditional on-campus courses, pursuing an online education is perfect for both working professionals and those with other family commitments. Many online degree programs offer 24-hour access to lectures and materials, making it easy for students to complete the required coursework at a time that is most convenient for them.
Careers in Animation
Although a career as a video game or special effects designer may be the first thing that comes to mind, students who obtain online degrees in animation have a number of different career opportunities available to them upon graduation. Here are a few of the most popular options, complete with relevant wage and employment data as cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Career||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators||$54,170||3.1%|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||$70,300||6%|
A degree in animation can lead to several different opportunities in the graphic design and entertainment industries for graduates who display the necessary technical skills and creativity. Since each student's needs are different, the right degree program will depend on the student's objectives and career goals. Although a certificate may work for current professionals who are looking to hone their skills, a bachelor's degree in animation is the minimum requirement for most jobs in the animation field.
To learn more about online degrees in animation, and request information on specific programs, check out any of the schools listed below.
Art Directors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/art-directors.htm
Craft and Fine Artists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm
Graphic Designers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Multimedia Artists and Animators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm