With close to 300,000 salaried professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations, California has the highest population of artists in the U.S. and the number is growing. Just a few years ago, the state was home to just over 280,000 ADESM workers. While the population may have changed over the past few years, the top industries for these professionals have remained the same. The motion picture and video industries, radio and television broadcasting, publishing, and advertising are just a few. Fortunately, the State of California houses thousands of employers in these fields. Just a few DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Saatchi & Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson, Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB), SAGE Publications, Alfred Publishing, WB Studio and CBS Studio Center.
Besides being home to top employers for artists of all kinds—including digital artists, the state has a vibrant art and culture scene that boasts one of the largest collections of major art museums and galleries in the world. The Getty, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the San Diego Museum of Art, the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and the de Young Museum are just a few.
Aspiring digital artists will also find a variety of schools that offer top-rated programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Just a few include the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles and University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC).
California Digital Art Schools
California is home 454 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Many of these schools offer everything from a Certificate in Digital Media to an MFA. Below are some of California’s best options for aspiring digital artists.
Ohlone College – Degrees Offered: Digital Art Certificate
University of Southern California (USC) - Degrees Offered: BA Animation and Digital Arts, MFA Animation and Digital Arts
California State University Northridge - Degrees Offered: BA Video/Digital Art, MA with a Studio Art Option, Video/Digital Art Concentration, BA Visual Communication Option with a Video/Digital Art Concentration, MFA Art, Studio Art Option with Video/Digital Art Concentration, MFA Visual Communication Option with a Video/Digital Art Concentration
Chapman University - Degrees Offered: BFA Digital Arts with an Emphasis in Animation or Visual Effects
University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) - Degrees Offered: MFA Digital Arts and New Media
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) – Degrees Offered: BFA with a Digital Arts Minor
More California schools with Digital Art related programs:
- San Francisco & Online
- Winter Park, FL & Online
Employment and Salary Trends for California Digital Artists
In 2002, California was home to more than 226,000 professionals working in ADESM occupations. By 2010, the population had increased to more than 270,000. In 2013, the population reached 283,510. Today the state is home to 291,160 ADESM professionals averaging $70,440 per year, down from $72,920 in 2013. Even with a decrease in salaries, California is still one of the top five highest paying states for this occupation:
- District of Columbia – $85,950
- New York - $74,100
- California - $70,440
- Massachusetts - $58,200
- Maryland - $57,330
Although California has the highest employment level for ADESM professionals, the third highest concentration of jobs and location quotients, and the third highest (average) salary, some areas fare better than others do. Two California metropolitan areas are among to top ten metro areas with the highest employment levels. They are the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division (#2, 145,010 professionals) and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City Metropolitan Division (#10, 26,100 professionals). Four California metropolitan areas are among the top ten highest paying metro areas for ADESM workers. They are:
- #1: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale - $81,750
- #4: San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City - $73,020
- #5: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara - $70,940
- #6: Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta - $66,790
While it is very possible to find employment opportunities across the State of California, as you mentioned, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area offer the most opportunities.
Awesome Animation Fact: Yen Sid, the sorcerer in Disney’s Fantasia, is just "Disney" spelled backwards. -E! Loves