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Top 10 U.S. Metro Areas for Animation Careers

Written by ACR StaffApril 17, 2017
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Have you ever wondered why animators who live in California or New York earn more than those in say, Florida or Arizona do? Demand, competition, cost of living, and industry are just few reasons. Though salaries vary by state, animators are doing very well nationwide. The mean annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $72,200 in May 2016. In 2012, the mean was $69,560. The lowest 10 percent of animators earned less than $38,520 in 2016, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,960. 

Employment growth looks promising as well. Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow six percent for the 2014-2024 decade. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations. 

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So, the industry looks well overall but, as mentioned, animators in some states earn more than those in other states do. Narrow the focus to metropolitan area, and salaries and employment levels become even more pronounced. Before we take a look at what’s happening in the top 10 metro areas for animation careers, let’s explore the top five industries for animators and the top five states with the highest employment levels and pay. Information is current as of March 2017, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Top five industries with the highest levels of employment and salaries for animators 

  1.      Motion Picture and Video Industries      (8,530 - $75,360)
  2.      Computer Systems Design and Related Services (4,360 - $73,800)    
  3.      Software Publishers (3,250 - $77,870)
  4.      Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services (2,790 - $69,400)
  5.      Other Information Services (1,650 - $80,980)

Top five highest paying industries for animators 

  1.      Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services (30 - $84,880)
  2.      Other Information Services (1,650 - $80,980)
  3.      Software Publishers (3,250 - $77,870)
  4.      Industrial Machinery Manufacturing       (pop. not listed - $75,900)
  5.      Motion Picture and Video Industries (8,530 - $75,630) 

Top five states with the highest employment level for animators 

  1.      California (10,910 - $82,680)
  2.      New York (1,960 - $73,310)
  3.      Washington (1,800 - $76,130)
  4.      Texas (1,720 - $70,990)
  5.      Georgia (1,430 - $55,260) 

Top five highest paying states animators 

  1.      California (10,910 - $82,680)
  2.      Connecticut (510 - $78,870)
  3.      Massachusetts (1,050 - $77,370)
  4.      District of Columbia (110 - $76,530)
  5.      Washington (1,800 - $76,130) 

Top 10 Metro Areas for Animation Careers 

Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level for animators: 

  1.      Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA (5,670 - $81,890)
  2.      New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ (1,840 - $75,180)
  3.      Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (1,600 - $77,040)
  4.      San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA (1,590 - $94,080)
  5.      Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (1,260 - $54,650)
  6.      San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA        (1,020 - $83,980)
  7.      Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL (970 - $63,890)
  8.      Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA (960 - $74,380)
  9.      Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division (860 - $79,010)
  10.      Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX (680 - $71,320) 

Top paying metropolitan areas for animators: 

  1.      San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA (1,590 - $94,080)
  2.      San Rafael, CA  (460 - $86,540)
  3.      San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (1,020 - $83,980)
  4.      San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX (120 - $82,130)
  5.      Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA (5,670 - $81,890)
  6.      Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI (40 - $80,970)
  7.      Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division (860 - $79,010)
  8.      New Orleans-Metairie, LA (pop. not listed - $78,070)
  9.      San Diego-Carlsbad, CA (550 - $77,400)
  10.      Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (1,600 - $77,040) 

As you may have noticed, California dominates, with the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale and San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco metro areas leading the pack. It’s not surprising. The state is home to Hollywood—the entertainment capital of the world, and monster animation studios such as Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Industrial Light & Magic, and Nickelodeon, to name a few. 

The other top states and metro areas listed here have their fair share as well! To explore more animation studios in the top 10 metro areas for animators and others, take a look at Where to Work: Top 100 Studios for Animation Professionals

Sources 

Fronczak, Tom. "Where to Work: Top 100 Studios for Animation Professionals." Animationcareerreview.com. Animation Career Review, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. 

Fronczak, Tom. "2014 Top 100 Most Influential Animation Studios." Animationcareerreview.com. Animation Career Review, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. 

"Multimedia Artists and Animators." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor, 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.  

“27-1014 Multimedia Artists and Animators, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor, 31 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.