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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

New York City Animation Careers - A Profile of the Art Scene, Top Employers, & Animation Schools/Programs

Written by Michelle BurtonMarch 12, 2015
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The New York City Art Scene

The State of New York has the second highest population of animators in the U.S. More than 90 percent of these artists live in New York City. Although Los Angeles holds the crown for producing and housing more animators than any other city, New York’s animation scene sees itself as a viable alternative to the L.A., rather than living in its shadow. Instead of relying on large studios to produce the bulk of the art in NYC, the industry taps into its hearty network of local freelancers and prolific indie production studios, with the goal of creating works with varied (and unique) points of view

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New York City is also home to some of the largest advertising agencies in the world and an impressive number of smaller award-winning agencies. This means, freelance animators can make it here too. While large agencies may employ a higher number of in-house animators, many have the same idea as the rest of the industry. They hire freelancers and smaller animation houses for fresh perspectives, cost-savings, and more.

For an aspiring New York City animator, this is all good news. What this means is, landing a full-time, salaried animation job at a large New York animation studio, network or production house is not the only path you can take here. The independent scene is alive and well so you can fly solo, start your own animation house, work for an independent studio or work for a large company as an independent contractor or otherwise—the choice is yours!

New York City Animation Schools and Programs

New York is home to more than 300 Title IV degree-granting institutions. More than 100 are located in New York City. Some focus solely on art, while others offer all programs from A to Z. Many schools here offer art and animation programs that have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). NASAD accredited programs are viewed as the highest quality programs available.

New York City is home to major art and design schools such as Parsons The New School for Design, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Parsons The New School for Design offers animation courses, certificate programs, and degree programs in animation. The school also produces the an annual animation festival that gives animators and digital artists a chance to display their work.

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) is a competitive art and animation college located in Manhattan. Many SVA graduates go on to work at companies such as Pixar, Disney, Nickelodeon, Sky Studio, and DreamWorks, while others continue on to graduate school or start their own businesses. The school offers degrees in cartooning, computer art, computer animation and visual effects, film and video, graphic design, and more.

The Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York (FIT, SUNY) offers a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in computer animation and interactive media. Students receive a solid foundation in 3D modeling and animation through courses ranging from animation and scripting to compositing and effects. FIT’s two-year BFA program is for individual’s with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

Other NYC schools that offer animation programs or courses include:

  • New York Film Academy
  • Pratt Institute
  • 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:  

New York City Animation Employers

Whether independent or a salaried employee, New York City animators work in all industries from advertising to film to computer systems and design. Animators interested in working in computer systems and design can find work at more than 1,900 firms in the New York City Area. Film and video animators can look into any of the following NYC or networks studios:

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

To find more animation studios, visit the New York Film Office or

Animators with an eye for advertising have many options as well. New York City is home to worldwide agencies such as:

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

To search for more agencies in the New York City area visit

Animation Careers at a Glance

Employment for animators and multimedia artists is expected to grow six percent from 2012 to 2022. Projected employment growth will be the result of increased demand for animation and more realistic visual effects in video games, films, and television. However, job growth may be slowed by companies hiring artists and animators who work overseas for lower wages. The increasing demand for computer graphics for mobile devices may counter slow growth by creating more job opportunities in the massive mobile industry.

Despite slow job growth, competition for job opportunities in animation will remain strong. The Bureau says, “Opportunities should be best for those who have a wide range of skills or who specialize in a highly specific type of animation or effect.” Still, as of January 2014, the U.S. was home to an impressive population of 68,900 multimedia artists and animators, making it the third largest career field in the world of Art and Design.

Salaries are impressive as well. In 2009, the average salary for animators was $58,510. Today, animators and multimedia artists average $61,370 per year. The average salary for New York animators is $72,530 per year—the nation’s fourth highest salary for animators.  

While job opportunities for animators and multimedia artists can be found all over the U.S., five states have the highest employment levels. California has the highest, followed by New York, Washington, Texas, and Illinois.

Awesome Animation Fact: Did you know that animated films can cost just as much to make (if not more) as live-action films? Good example: Titanic (1997) had a hefty $200 million budget, while Tangled (2013) had an even heftier $260 million budget!