Animation is a blend of entertainment industry and technology. The realm of commercial animation is as diverse as the styles and techniques of animation itself. These days, animators can find work in various fields such as feature films, television, Internet, CD-ROM production, as well as product design/visualization, and interior design. And within each of those industries, animators can perform a variety of roles. Animation isn't limited to the film and game industries; you could also seek a career in architectural drafting, interactive user interface design, pipeline design for the oil and gas industry, three-dimensional medical imaging, or even military flight simulator design. The possibilities are endless!
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division
Animation Education Degree
It's easy to start off with a major in general computer animation, and then hone your area of expertise further down the road. While more and more animation schools are moving towards four-year animation degree or above, some schools or technical institutions only offer two-year or certification programs.
Short Term Degrees/Courses:
These sorts of animation degrees help those who already have some basic knowledge and want to enhance their marketability. They are good for an entry level job in animation in areas like Digital Designing, 3D Modeling, Rigging, Texturing, Lighting or Compositing.
Long Term Courses:
these have better scope than short term courses if you want to make a career in animation. Therefore, those who are new to this field of study should enroll for a long term course as they should go through all the processes of animation film making to make them complete animators.
Finding the Right Tools
While computer animation has dominated Hollywood's box office the past few years and have become an increasingly large part of animation education, they're no substitute for the fundamentals - learning the nuances of drawing, shading, lighting, and storytelling. Undoubtedly, the most important element of an animator's education is a solid foundation in drawing. All the computer skills in the world can't mask a bad artist, so make sure that you find a program where you'll spend long, necessary hours honing your craft.
Ideally, you'll want a program that offers a combination of drawing opportunities including life drawing, layout animation, and fundamental drawing studies. In addition to that, students will need a program that covers the requisite animation skills like storytelling, layout, character design, direction, design, editing, acting and visual communication.
If you intend to pursue a job animating for television or film, then you should probably look for a program that focuses on traditional skills like drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as "film knowledge" such as cinematography and composition. Likewise, if you want to focus on producing multimedia animation, you should find a program that covers the constraints and peculiarities of producing animation for the web, CD-ROM, and various other media. For people who want to become character animators, there are institutes which train students in a real-world environment so they are ready to step into a production job with a demo reel upon graduation!
Usually students after graduating become animators and/or character animators. An animator creates movement for characters, objects, and natural phenomenon in a game, commercial, TV show, or animated feature. Other options may be a video game design career, computer game designer, 2d and 3d animator, 3d modeler, visual effects artist, compositor, storyboard artist, concept artist, character designer, stop motion animator, etc.
Salaried animators and multi-media artists (grouped together) are earning an average of about $44,000. In the video and motion picture industry the median salary is higher, at around $60,000. As with every career, the salaries animators earn vary greatly with their employer and their region.