Some animation is for kids, but those who make movie, TV, commercial and video game magic bring home adult pay. Working in large studios and small boutique outfits, animators land jobs as full-fledged animation and 3-D artists as well as background illustrators, character designers, producers, technical directors and storyboard artists, says Fatimah Abdullah, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation (International Animated Film Association), an umbrella group for the animation industry.
Abdullah says you don't necessarily need a degree in animation -- any related art major will do -- but you'll need to know how to use software programs such as Adobe After Effects, Photoshop and Toon Boom and have strong figure-drawing and modeling skills. You'll also need an impressive portfolio tailored to the job you're aiming for and that showcases the diversity of your work in that field.
Animators can earn $61,370 per year, according to BLS, but Abdullah says you won't jump to the top of the financial totem pole immediately.
"I've interviewed (job applicants who) say, 'I want to produce my own show here.' Right out of school, that's very unlikely," Abdullah says.