The District of Columbia is home to the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. Thanks to an wide range of program options via Netflix, Amazon Prime, cable television, and more, the Office is now one of the busiest film offices in the country. Just a few “Made in DC” productions include Alpha House (Amazon), House of Cards (Netflix/Sony Pictures Entertainment), Catfish (MTV), Madame Secretary (CBS), Covert Affairs (TNT), VEEP (HBO), Blacklist (NBC), Scandal (ABC), and The Americans (FX).
With an ample amount of activity in the world of entertainment here, the demand for animators with experience in the film and television industry is greater than ever before. In fact, Pigmental Studios, which plans to relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles to DC, will bring 50 full-time jobs to the area by 2016, with plans to work with the DC Department of Employment Services to hire local animators. The digital animation studio will also “launch an apprenticeship training program for individuals interested in animation in the District of Columbia, which will focus on specific career tracks within the animated media industry as well as provide apprentice’s access to mentors.”
The demand for animators in the advertising, web design, graphic design, and game design industries is high as well. The District and nearby areas such as Arlington, Virginia, and Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland are home to a number of game studios, creative agencies and other major companies such as ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, and the Travel Channel.
Aspiring animators will also find:
- Dozens of small to mid-sized animation and production studios in and around DC
- Art schools such as Corcoran College of Art + Design, which offer dozens of art, design, and animation programs
- A number of creative agencies that hire animators to produce animations for commercials, games, videos, mobile apps, and more
DC animators may also find employment in the academic world. The District is home more than a dozen major colleges and universities and dozens of community colleges. Community colleges are perfect for animators interested in teaching at a variety of levels. Community colleges in the area offer associate degree programs as well as animation certificates, diplomas, and enrichment courses.
Employment and Salary Trends for District of Columbia Animators
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the District of Columbia is home to around 28,140 salaried individuals working in the art, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Nearly 100 of these salaried professionals work in the multimedia and animation industry. Because many DC animators are self-employed, the population of artists working in this field is likely much higher. Across the nation, employment in the multimedia and animation industry is expected to increase by six percent for the 2012-2022 decade.
At an average salary of $76,110 per year, DC-based animators earn nearly $15,000 more than the national average, making it the country’s third highest paying state for animators.
The top five highest paying states for multimedia artists and animators are:
- California ($88,150 per year)
- Washington State ($76,900)
- District of Columbia ($76,110)
- New York ($72,530)
- New Mexico ($70,310)
The average salary for multimedia artists and animators nationwide is $61,370 per year. For more information about the animation industry in the U.S., visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Animation Career Opportunities in District of Columbia
Animators may find employment at the following animation studios and other companies located in or near the District of Columbia:
- Aloe Design Studios, Leesburg, VA
- Flipbook Productions, DC
- O’Keefe Communications, DC
- PCM Animation Studios, Silver Spring MD
- Pigmental Studios, DC
- Pixeldust Studios, Bethesda MD
Animators may also find work at production companies such as Screenscope (DC), D2 Productions (Marlborough, Maryland, 19 miles), and Vogt Productions (DC), to name a few.
District of Columbia Animation Training Programs
The District of Columbia is home to a number of schools that offer animation or related programs. Just a few include:
- American University
- Corcoran College of Art + Design
- Georgetown University
- Howard University
- The Art Institute of Washington
More Animation related programs to consider:
- Winter Park, FL & Online
- Computer Animation - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Game Programs - Bachelor's & Master's - Online & Campus
- Graphic Design & Digital Arts - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Film & Digital Cinematography - Bachelor's & Master's - Online & Campus
- Mobile Development - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Simulation & Visualization - Bachelor's - Campus
If you’re ready to get started on the right path to a successful career in animation, consider enrolling in one of the following animation degree programs:
- Advertising (Animation or Multimedia focus)
- Animation & Visual Effects
- Film (Animation focus)
- Fine Art (Animation focus)
- Media Arts and Animation
- Multimedia Art
A number of other degree programs have become popular over the years for animators wishing to enhance their skill set. Just a few include Television, Film & Media (Animation option), Computer Science with a focus in Computer Animation, Computer Animation and Game Development, Graphic Communications (Animation option), and Visual Communications (Illustration/Animation option).
Awesome Animation Fact: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) featured heavy use of CGI, and so did the much softer film Beauty and the Beast (1991). In the end, incorporating CGI did some amazing things for these (totally opposite) films and the industry took notice. Terminator 2: Judgment Day won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and Beauty and the Beast became the first full-length animated feature in history to earn a Best Picture Academy Award nomination.