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Animators and Multimedia Artists

At a Glance

  • Create cartoons, web pages, brochures, and other designs
  • Are creative and artistic
  • Use complex computer software and equipment
  • Usually have a bachelor's degree

Career summary

Animators and multimedia artists create graphics and animation using hand drawings and computer software and equipment.

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In general, animators and multimedia artists work for:

They create the animated effects in films, TV shows, video games, and commercials. They may also develop images and designs for product labels, brochures, and presentations. They also help design websites.

Animators and multimedia artists use their judgment and creativity to design complex graphics and animation. They create images that are three-dimensional (3D) by working with light, color, and shadow. Animators and multimedia artists also make images appear to have texture to make the image look as real as possible. In addition, they put several images together to make it appear that the object or character is moving.

Animators and multimedia artists create storyboards by hand to develop the storyline and outline the characters. Storyboards are drawings that show the sequence of the story to be developed on film. They may also integrate photos and digital art into the final design. In addition to working by hand, animators and multimedia artists use computer software and equipment.

Animators may use models to simulate how an animated object will look and act in the final product. They may also create images on pen-and-paper, scan them into a computer to add sound and color.

Related careers

This career is part of the Arts, Audio/Visual Technology, and Communications cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to animators and multimedia artists.

Common work activities

Animators and multimedia artists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, animators and multimedia artists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Animators and multimedia artists frequently:

It is important for animators and multimedia artists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for animators and multimedia artists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Animators and multimedia artists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an animator or multimedia artist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Animators and multimedia artists often have a bachelor's degree in art, design, or animation. However, a bachelor's degree is not always required. It is more important that you have creativity and artistic ability. In addition, you must know how to use graphic design software and other multimedia applications.

Formal training helps you develop your talent and skills. Programs in animation provide training in the computer software used in the visual arts. Training programs may also offer internships, where you can gain work experience.

Work experience

Animators and multimedia artists prepare for this work by developing a portfolio. This is a collection of your best work. It demonstrates your skills to clients or employers. A portfolio may include hand drawings, computer images, photos, and short animated clips.

Participating in an internship while in college is excellent preparation for this occupation. An internship helps you build your skills, demonstrate your talent, and make job contacts.

On-the-job training

Beginning animators and artists may receive some on-the-job training. The length of training varies, but may last up to one year. You may spend a brief period in orientation, or you can spend up to a year working with an experienced artist.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many animators and multimedia artists are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire animators and multimedia artists who have excellent portfolios. They want to see work that demonstrates the talent and skills they require for the job. Employers also require that applicants have strong computer skills. In addition, employers in the advertising industry prefer animators and multimedia artists who can present their ideas clearly to clients. Some employers may require that applicants have a bachelor's degree and a few years of direct work experience.

Costs to workers

Some workers may choose to join a professional association and pay annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Multimedia artists and animators (SOC 27-1014)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $25.99 $33.49 $43.53 $49.99 $64.19
Monthly $4,504 $5,804 $7,544 $8,663 $11,124
Yearly $54,050 $69,660 $90,540 $103,970 $133,510
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $26.84 $34.63 $44.35 $50.59 $65.70
Monthly $4,651 $6,001 $7,686 $8,767 $11,386
Yearly $55,831 $72,033 $92,238 $105,226 $136,659
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $21.87 $25.29 $30.13 $47.85 $60.21
Monthly $3,790 $4,383 $5,222 $8,292 $10,434
Yearly $45,494 $52,607 $62,656 $99,518 $125,244
    Vancouver Hourly $19.69 $24.65 $32.11 $48.11 $60.72
Monthly $3,412 $4,272 $5,565 $8,337 $10,523
Yearly $40,944 $51,271 $66,785 $100,079 $126,304
United States Hourly $19.65 $26.15 $34.87 $46.68 $59.77
Monthly $3,405 $4,532 $6,043 $8,090 $10,358
Yearly $40,870 $54,400 $72,520 $97,100 $124,310

Wages vary by area of the country. Wages also vary based on the type of project and the skill of the animator or multimedia artist. Experienced, self-employed animators and multimedia artists can earn much more than those who earn salaries. However, when they are starting out, they can earn much less. Wages tend to be higher in some industries, such as advertising or film.

Full-time animators and multimedia artists usually earn benefits such as sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Self-employed animators and multimedia artists must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Multi-Media Artists and Animators (SOC 27-1014)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,258 35.7% 16.1% 533
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 11 63.6% 13.4% 2
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 14 21.4% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 39 46.2% 15.0% 7
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 118 28.0% 15.2% 17
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 67 14.9% 14.6% 7
    King County 2,752 37.5% 19.6% 463
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 15 6.7% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 26 7.7% 15.2% 2
    Snohomish County 108 18.5% 12.4% 13
    Spokane County 59 52.5% 13.9% 12
United States 71,600 4.3% 5.2% 8,300

National employment

About 59% of animators and multimedia artists are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing as fast as average. Most of the growth in this occupation will occur in the movie, television, and video game industries. In addition, growth will occur due to a need for computer graphics in mobile devices.

Although there is increasing need for animation and multimedia, many jobs in this field are sent overseas.

Competition for jobs will be strong because there are many recent graduates who want to work in this occupation. Those who have a broad range of skills or specialize in a highly-specific area will have the best opportunities.

Other resources

Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (external link)
Artist Trust (external link)
1835 - 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
Association for Computing Machinery SIGGRAPH (external link)
Graphic Artists Guild (external link)
31 West 34th Street, 8th Fl
New York, NY 10001
IEEE Computer Society (external link)
2001 L Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts of the US, Its Territories, and Canada (external link)
207 West 25th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001
International Animated Film Society (external link)
International Game Developers Association (external link)
150 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 402
Toronto, ON M4P 1E8 Canada


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters