Multimedia Artists and Animators

Summary

multimedia artists and animators image
Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other media.
Quick Facts: Multimedia Artists and Animators
2014 Median Pay $63,630 per year
$30.59 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 64,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,900

What Multimedia Artists and Animators Do

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Work Environment

Multimedia artists and animators held about 64,400 jobs in 2014. A little more than one-half half of workers were self-employed.

How to Become a Multimedia Artist or Animator

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer. 

Pay

The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $63,630 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for multimedia artists and animators.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of multimedia artists and animators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about multimedia artists and animators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Multimedia Artists and Animators Do

Multimedia artists and animators
Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models and animation.

Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, animation, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Duties

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation
  • Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animations
  • Develop storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Edit animations and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
  • Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development time lines

Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.

Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.

Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.

Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a wide variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.

Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.

Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance work.

Work Environment

Multimedia artists and animators
Multimedia artists and animators frequently work in offices.

Multimedia artists and animators held about 64,400 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most multimedia artists and animators were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 12%
Computer systems design and related services 6
Software publishers 5
Advertising, public relations, and related services 5

In 2014, a little more than half of workers were self-employed. Many artists and animators work in offices; others work from home.

Work Schedules

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular work schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Multimedia Artist or Animator

Multimedia artists and animators
Employers look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong computer programming skills.

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.

Education

Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.

Training

Some animation studios have their own software and computer applications that they use to create films, and they often provide on-the-job training so that workers can use the specific software and computer applications.

Important Qualities

Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.

Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a complex team and respond well to criticism and feedback.

Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work.

Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.

Time-management skills. The hours required by most studio and game design companies can be long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to manage their time effectively when a deadline approaches.

Pay

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Median annual wages, May 2014

Multimedia artists and animators

$63,630

Art and design workers

$43,100

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $63,630 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,030.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for multimedia artists and animators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Software publishers $72,960
Computer systems design and related services 68,080
Motion picture and video industries 65,330
Advertising, public relations, and related services 59,600

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular work schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Multimedia artists and animators

6%

Art and design workers

2%

 

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. Job growth may be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios may save money on animation by using lower paid workers outside of the United States.

Consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies. They will also demand newer computer hardware, which adds to the complexity of the games themselves. Video game studios will require additional multimedia artists and animators to meet this increased demand.

Further, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Multimedia artists will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.

Job Prospects

Despite positive job growth, there will be competition for job openings because many recent graduates are interested in entering the occupation. Opportunities should be best for those who specialize in a specific type of animation or in a specific skill, such as drawing or computer programming.

Employment projections data for multimedia artists and animators, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Multimedia artists and animators

27-1014 64,400 68,300 6 3,900 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of multimedia artists and animators.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Art directors

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.

Bachelor's degree $85,610
Computer programmers

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Bachelor's degree $77,550
Craft and fine artists

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

See How to Become One $44,400
Graphic designers

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Bachelor's degree $45,900
Web developers

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

Associate's degree $63,490
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Multimedia Artists and Animators,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm (visited February 10, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015