Careers in Animation: Articles on Employment Trends, Salary Trends, Types of Jobs & Education/Training Requirements

Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Private Game Design School Programs in the US. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.


11. University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California

Established in 1880, the University of Southern California is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors across 18 colleges and schools. USC Games offers four degree programs and four minors for aspiring game designers. School of Cinematic Arts degrees include a BA in Interactive Entertainment and an MFA in Interactive Media. Viterbi School of Engineering degrees include a BS in Computer Science (Games) and an MS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development. Minors include Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Design, and Game Entrepreneurism.

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After eight years of writing about video games, I wanted to take the pulse of the game industry. I organized this list with the criteria for influence being: how long since a studio’s last release, how many releases they had in 2013 and 2014 combined, how many copies were sold, how many people still play their games today, what do they have coming out in the near future, how unique are their games, and how much competition from other studios do they have?

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According to a 2016 Census Bureau report, the south is America’s most heavily populated region. The area is home to more than 122 million people and it leads the U.S. in population growth year after year. Experts say economic growth is a driving force behind the explosive population growth in the South. A recent Forbes article explains that people are moving to the south because “economic growth in the South has outpaced the rest of the country for a generation.” The southern states “generally have lower taxes, and less stringent regulations, than their primary competitors in the Northeast or on the West Coast. Indeed this year the four best states for business, according to CEO Magazine, were Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.” 

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Degrees that combine two or three majors that are usually offered separately are becoming more and more common as more employer’s demand that job candidates have a more diverse creative and technical skill set. These types of programs allow students to cover multiple areas in less time than it takes to complete a full-blown double major or dual degree. A typical double major or dual degree program takes no less than five years to complete, full-time. A single degree that combines two majors typically takes four years to complete. Students on the fast track may complete the program in less time.

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A BFA in Cartooning can open many doors for ambitious graduates. Cartoonists can find work at animation studios, production studios, for comic book publishers, newspapers, and book publishers, for advertising and multimedia firms, and sometimes all of the above—if you choose to freelance. Just a few common job titles include Animator/Cartoonist, Cartoonist, Illustrator, Comic Strip Illustrator, Caricature Artist, Editorial Cartoonist, Game Artist, Background/Layout Artist, Studio Background Artist, Storyboard Artist, Pencil Model Sheet Artist, and Morph Artist. 

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50 Must-See Anime June 5, 2017

What makes an anime great? Is it the storyline? The characters? Worlds? Music? According to Simon Richmond, author of The Rough Guide to Anime: Japan's Finest from Ghibli to Gankutsuo, a great anime is one that will stand the test of time. In his top 50 must-see anime, Richmond lists just that. Among them are Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking 1988 cult classic Akira, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy—the first ever anime TV series with a sequential plot, and Mamoru Oshii’s still amazing Ghost in the Shell (1995), among others. 

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Pixar has been churning out blockbuster animated films for decades. I mean, who could forget Toy Story (1995)—the first fully computer-animated movie? This joint venture between Disney and Pixar went on to gross more than $373 million at the box office. For a first, and it being the 90’s and all, this is nothing short of amazing. Add the Toy Story sequels, and the figure jumps to a staggering $1.9 billion—and counting. It’s no wonder Disney snapped up Pixar in 2006 for a cool $7.4 billion. 

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Animation instructors at top schools have at least two things in common. They are passionate about animation and all are accomplished artists in the field. Many of these artist-educators began their journey just as their students did—in an undergraduate animation or related program. Just about every top program will provide the opportunity to complete an internship, where students have the chance to gain real world experience. This will become a valuable asset when comes to securing a position in the industry. Common jobs in animation include animator, stop motion animator, 3D modeler, flash animator, compositing artist, storyboard artist, render wrangler, texture artist, and art director. 

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The animation world is extremely competitive, so it may feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to getting your work in front of the right people. If you’re a student, well let’s just say it can be even tougher to get noticed. The industry will always be competitive, so it’s up to you to find ways to compete.

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You’re probably thinking there’s no way an animated film could cost as much as making a live action movie. After all, animated films don’t require building elaborate sets from the ground up, travelling with cast and crew to exotic countries, designing hundreds of intricate costumes, or hiring the highest paid actors in the world, right? Wrong! For every costly component of creating a live-action film, there’s a pricey one for animation too. And an animated film could take even longer to complete—even with talent working around the clock. 

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