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New York Animation Careers: Employment & Salary Trends, Job Opportunities, & Colleges Offering Animation Programs in New York

Written by Michelle BurtonSeptember 15, 2015
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Animation Careers in New York Overview

The State of New York is home to one of the largest populations of multimedia artists and animators in the U.S. It is home to one of the world’s largest communities of fine artists and one of the largest film and video industries in the nation. New York is also home to a wide variety of animation studios, both big and small. While California is the top state for animators, New York has a lot to offer as well. Animators here have the opportunity to: 

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  • Work at a small animation studio where ideas will not go unnoticed
  • Collaborate with smaller production teams
  • Work on all aspects of any given production
  • Earn the fourth highest salary for multimedia artists and animators in the nation

In New York, the top industries for animators and multimedia artists are the motion picture and video industries and advertising and public relations. While the state is home to more than 2,500 salaried multimedia artists and animators, it is likely that thousands more work independently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that independent artists, writers, and performers make up the second largest group of artists in the U.S. Software publishing, computer systems design, and other information services also employ a large number of animators in multimedia artists in New York and nationwide.

Many working animators choose to teach to supplement their incomes or simply for the love of passing along all that they have learned. Animators interested in working in education choose New York based on:

  • The number of top universities and specialty schools in the state
  • The number of renowned art and design schools in the state
  • The opportunity to work in the field and teach, simultaneously
  • Excellent salary and employment growth

With more than 300 Title IV degree-granting colleges and universities, the State of New York has one of the largest collections of postsecondary institutions in the U.S. Many of these schools offer art and design programs that have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). This includes animation programs. 

Employment and Salary Trends for New York Animators

New York is home to 2,510 multimedia artists and animators. They average $70,660 per year down from $71,960 in 2013 when the state was home to 2,710 multimedia artists and animators. Across the nation, employment for multimedia artists and animators is expected to increase by six percent for the 2012-2022 decade. Nationwide, multimedia artists and animators averaged $61,370 (median) in 2013. Today, the average median salary is $63,630. The lowest paid animators and multimedia artists earned $34,860 in 2013 and the highest paid averaged $113,470 per year. Today, the highest paid animators average $112,030 per year and the lowest paid animators average $35,510.   

Although salaries and the population of multimedia artists and animators in New York dipped slightly between 2013 and today, New York still has the fourth highest average salary for multimedia artists and animators and the second highest employment level. California has the highest employment level, while Washington, Texas, and Georgia have the third, fourth and fifth highest, respectively. The top five highest paying states are:

  1. California ($82,170 per year)
  2. Washington ($75,740 per year)
  3. Massachusetts ($73,470 per year)
  4. New York ($70,660 per year)
  5. Idaho ($69,450 per year)

Animators and multimedia artists living in the New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division average $73,140 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Animation Career Opportunities in New York

Aspiring animators interested in working in the motion picture and video industries may find employment at the following animation studios in New York City:

  • Augenblick Studios
  • Comedy Central
  • Digital Elixir Studios
  • Little Airplane Productions
  • MTV
  • Nickelodeon Digital
  • Spike TV
  • The Studio
  • Tronic Studio

Advertising and public relations animators can search for opportunities with some of the world’s top advertising agencies. These include, but are not limited to:

  • DDB Needham
  • Foote, Cone & Belding
  • J. Walter Thompson (JWT)
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Wieden+Kennedy

There are more than 1,900 computer systems and design firms in the state of New York. This means, opportunities for computer systems and design animators are plentiful in the state. Although job opportunities can be found in many cities throughout the State of New York, the New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division has the second highest employment level for animators and multimedia artists of the top ten metro areas for this occupation. Also worth considering are Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse. 

New York Animation Training Programs

New York offers access to top animation programs offered at prominent institutions from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. The following are just a few:

Alfred State College, Alfred, New York

AAS and BS degrees in Digital Media and Animation. 

New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York

BA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production, MFA in Animation and Digital Arts. The MFA program is available at Tisch Asia.

Parsons The New School for Design, New York

BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, BFA in Communication Design, and a BFA in Illustration. All programs allow students to study Animation and Motion Graphics.

Pratt Institute, Brooklyn

BFA in Digital Arts with Concentrations in 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, and 2-D Animation. MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy

BS in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC) with a concentration in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), BS in Electronic Art (BS EART) with a Concentration in Visual Arts & Animation, and MFA and PhD degrees in Electronic Art (EART). EART students may explore areas from Animation and Communication Technologies to Gaming.

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester

BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.

School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York

BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, and Computer Art; MFA in Computer Art, BFA in Cartooning, and Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses.

Syracuse University, Syracuse

BFA and MFA degrees in Computer Art and Animation, and a Minor in Animation.

Other NYC schools that offer animation programs or courses include:

  • New York Film Academy
  • New York Institute of Technology

These schools offer BFA and/or MFA animation programs as well as 3-week, 4-week, and 1-year animation programs (New York Film Academy).

More Animation related programs to consider:  

Start Your Animation Career in New York 

If you are interested in a career in animation, you can begin by enrolling in an accredited animation program in New York. Just a few programs you will find include Computer Animation and Visual Effects, Animation and Digital Arts, Digital Media and Animation, Film and Animation, Special Effects and Animation, and more. Consider schools accredited by recognized regional and national agencies such as the prestigious National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) or New York State Board of Regents, and the Commissioner of Education (NYSED). For a full list of recognized agencies, visit the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs here.

Awesome Animation Fact: If you haven’t heard yet, Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainments’ ‘Minions’ is now the second highest grossing animated movie of all time. At a gross international total of $1.08 billion, it bumped Toy Story 3 ($1.06 billion) to the number three spot on the list. Minions opens in Greece on September 24, 2015, which means it has the perfect opportunity to bump the highest grossing animated movie of all time, Frozen, to the number two spot. To date, Frozen has earned $1.26 billion worldwide.