Media Arts & Animation Salary

With the popularity of animated films, video games and other related industries, there has never been a better time to consider becoming an animation artist. In the past, many people believed there was no money to be made as an artist, but that is no longer true. Animators and multimedia artists today command comfortable salaries, often right after graduating from a graphic design or animation program at a university.


According to the book, “The Secrets of Digital Animation,” digital animation is only about 50 years old. Its beginning is marked by several advancements in the computer graphics industry, which propelled the computer animation business forward. These include the invention of the analogue computer graphics and the first computer drafting program. The industry has grown at such a rapid pace, particularly after the 1970s, that, according to the book, “even the foremost innovators could not have fully predicted all that has transpired.”

For the aspiring animator, this change is good news. These advancements have translated almost directly into more jobs in animation than have ever existed previously.


According to, the average salary of today’s animator is $44,000 with animators in some sectors commanding as high as a $66,000 on average. Moreover, the longer an animator works in the industry, the higher his salary becomes. Salaries in the video game industry, for example, jump to up to $75,000 a year with as little as 6 years of experience.

Other Factors Affecting Salaries

Job requirements and geographic region also play an important role in determining how much an animator will make, according to Jesse Cordtz, animator and operations manager of HieroGraphics Entertainment, based in Boise, Idaho.

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During an interview, Cordtz expounds on the specifics of salaries for animators. “Generally the budget on a project has to do with each individual and the content they create,” he explains. “Production artists all end up as subcontractors, who are paid based upon their individual specialty.”

He also points out that market and geography determine an animator’s salary. For example, $50 an hour is a reasonable salary to expect to be paid in Boise, but animators in larger markets working for larger firms like Dreamworks often command upwards of six figures or more.


Several regional centers serve as industry Meccas for animators interested in developing careers in animation. Of course, for the film industry, there is Los Angeles. The biggies in the video game industry are Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, Vancouver, Boston and Austin, according to a report done by Tara Colton for the think-tank, Center for an Urban Future.

However, independent animators like Cordtz demonstrate that people who desire to work in the animation field can work anywhere.

Potential projects that salaries will likely rise given the popularity of computer animation. Up and coming markets for computer animators range from industries as diverse as the film and video games industries to the legal and advertising fields.

Future animators should look into university programs that offer degrees in animation or game design. Very often these programs offer career counseling and have industry contacts that students can take advantage of upon completion of their degrees. These students should work on gaining relevant work experience before graduation and building a professional portfolio of animation designs.

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