How to Become a Successful Animator
Filed under: Animation & Effects
April 16, 2018
Being an animator is an incredible career, where you can have the opportunity to give life to images and ideas in fields as diverse as law, healthcare, film, education, television, and gaming. Read on to see what steps you’ll need to take to become an animator and how to break into this action-packed, exciting field.
1. Take animation courses or a degree program.
For most people, going to school is the first step for how to become an animator. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, multimedia artist and animator positions typically require a bachelor’s degree. Of course, what animation program you choose should depend on your individual career goals, prior education, and existing skills.
Your options include associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs as well as non-degree programs like certificate and diploma programs. Degree programs usually provide a broader education, moving from foundational to advanced courses, while non-degree programs narrow in on specific specialties and may require existing skills or prior knowledge of certain areas.
Either way, be sure to pick a program that gives you hands-on practice with industry technology and that is taught by people with experience in the field.
2. Dedicate yourself to developing your skills.
No matter how good your animation program is, your instructors can only teach you so much about how to become an animator. They can push you to achieve your best, but ultimately you have to put in the hard work.
On top of building foundational art skills and learning animation and editing software, you’ll also want to develop acting and observation skills. Doing so can help you understand body language and movements, so that you can recreate specific emotions and qualities in your characters. Teamwork is another big one. Animation projects require collaboration, and you’ll need practice being a good group member and managing feedback and critiques.
3. Create a stellar portfolio and demo reel.
Ask any industry professional how to become an animator, and they’ll tell you that having a standout portfolio is key. At The Art Institutes system of schools, building portfolio pieces is an essential part of the curriculum in our Media Arts & Animation programs.
For animators, it’s best to host your portfolio online, where you can have a section for a short demo reel and an area for longer work samples. Each piece you share should include a recap of the work you did and your project goals. Only share your best work, updating your portfolio and reel as you create new and stronger pieces. Don’t forget to include a contact section on your site as well as your resume and a brief overview of your background and interests.
For portfolio ideas, you can review online portfolios of other animators, or, if you’re in school, ask your Career Services team and instructors for feedback and advice.
4. Get a variety of work experience.
Secure internships and freelance jobs while you’re in school to gain experience outside the classroom. (Your Career Services team or your instructors may be able to help you connect with current industry professionals.)
Even after you graduate and find a full-time role, you’re more likely to start out in an entry level position than in a lead animator job. As you work to advance your career, you may still want to do select freelance work or volunteer for organizations you really care about. All of this experience can help you network with other professionals, build your skills, and continue to expand your portfolio. Remember, a large part of how to become an animator is putting in the time and effort to your own development and success!
Explore Animation Programs & Courses
Want to know more about how to become an animator? You can learn the skills you need in a Media Arts & Animation program at an Art Institute campus near you or in one of our online programs. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about animation in the context of game design, perhaps you’ll find what you’re looking for in our Game Art & Design programs. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to request more information or call 1-855-761-8239 to speak with our Admissions team today!
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