How to start a successful career as an animator

Animation has been growing in popularity in recent years. It can become a very lucrative career, especially for those who stay dedicated and passionate. If you have been wanting to get into animation but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss the best advice to get you on the right foot to having a successful career in animation. 

1. Get some work experience

Many high-paying jobs require that you have some work experience, which can be rather difficult to obtain if you’re just starting out. Unfortunately, some of your first gigs might have to be volunteer work or internships, but they will be things you can put on your resume and portfolio- more on that below. Aside from having more qualifications to include on your resume, an internship or volunteer job will enable you to network and meet new people, which could have an awesome impact on your future animation career. It will also enable you to develop your skills and see where you can improve. In addition to that, some animators may start off as freelancers. That is also a great way to build experience. You can set up a profile on websites like Fiverr and Upwork where you advertise your skills (while including that you are at an entry level), and people can hire you for freelance gigs. It is also possible to turn freelancing into a lucrative career down the line if this is something you enjoy and you are able to gather a group of clients that are willing to pay well. Don’t be afraid to increase your prices as your skills improve, too. Remember, when first starting out, you may have to do some internships, low paying, and entry-level positions, but it will pay off in a few years!

2. Create a portfolio

Anywhere you apply is going to require that you submit a portfolio, and for good reason- they want to see what you’re capable of to make sure that they hire the right person. Every animation class emphasizes the importance of having a portfolio and ask any professional- they will also say that you should work on your portfolio and showcase your best works. Luckily, it’s not difficult to make a portfolio, and you can do it yourself using a portfolio builder. It’s important to do this online so that you can also have a demo reel for shorter samples, and then a longer portion for your complicated work. Be sure to share your absolute best work in your portfolio. It is also a good idea to include contact information, your resume, qualifications, background, and interests in your portfolio. 

3. Hone your skills

Part of becoming an amazing animator includes improving each and every day. Even those who have been in the field for a long time will admit that they have a lot to learn. You will never stop learning throughout the course of your life, and if you want to get better in any field, you have to dedicate yourself to learning the important skills and improving upon them. There’s only so much that you will be able to learn from an instructor. And some of these skills are not necessarily animation skills. You will also want to focus on observation so that you can end up recreating movements better. Also, you need to focus on being able to handle feedback and working as part of a team, since these are both important skills to have on the job. 

4. Take courses or get a degree

It’s estimated that a majority of animation careers will demand at least a bachelor’s degree to ensure that you have some professional education. This might not be the cheapest route, but be sure to check out financial aid at any university you’re interested in, as well as grants (particularly FAFSA) depending on your financial need and scholarships. Also, your degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in animation- you can choose other degrees like graphic design and computer programming. In addition, it may be a good idea to consider taking courses. You can also do this if you already have a degree in animation. Taking courses in subjects such as digital animation, 3D programming, modeling, and game design can truly improve your skills. The field is constantly evolving, so be sure that you’re always open to learning more!

5. Be sure to follow deadlines

As you move further in your career, it will be absolutely essential that you follow deadlines closely. Employers will be tough about deadlines, especially when it comes to animation projects. You will need to have your animation ready by the deadline except in an extreme emergency, and even then, your client or employer might not be so forgiving. If you choose to work as a freelancer, you may have some more freedom with this, but this is not the case if you want a more professional career. Regardless, be sure that you adjust your schedule accordingly and follow deadlines strictly, even if you’re doing volunteer work.