Animation Careers in West Virginia Overview
West Virginia is home to some of America’s most beautiful locations. Blackwater Falls State Park, Highland Scenic Highway (Route 150) in Pocahontas County and Cass Scenic Railroad State Park are just a few. Not only does the state offer beautiful backdrops for just about any film, thanks to the West Virginia Film Industry Investment Act, filmmakers can receive up to 31 percent transferable tax credits. This competitive tool is used to recruit film industry business to the state and it applies to other projects as well including TV films and series, commercials, music videos, and commercial still photography. West Virginia is also home to at least 10 respected film festivals such as Carnegie Film Series & On Screen/In Person, West Virginia International Film Festival, and Cut to the Chase Film Festival.
While the Act, the West Virginia Film Commission, and film festivals attract filmmakers and film productions from across the country, they also promote the growth of production facilities throughout the state. As a result, there are a number of opportunities for animators with a film and video background as well. In addition to the film and video industries, West Virginia animators may find opportunities in advertising, technology, game design, graphic design, and even education. Aspiring animation instructors may find art and design programs at a number of the state’s 25 four-year or 21 two-year colleges and universities. The state is also home to hundreds of secondary schools filled with budding artists.
Employment and Salary Trends for West Virginia Animators
West Virginia is home to 5,090 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media occupations. They average around $41,620 per year. In 2008 (the most recent figures for West Virginia animators and multimedia artists) the state was home to around 40 animators and multimedia artists averaging $42,940 per year. However, many animators work independently, which means the state is likely home to more professionals working in this field, and they may earn more or less depending on the industry and other factors.
Nationwide, the mean annual wage for animators and multimedia artists is $69,410 and overall employment for this group is expected to increase by six percent for the 2012-2022 decade.
The top five highest paying states for animators are:
- California ($82,170)
- Washington ($75,740)
- Massachusetts ($73,470)
- New York ($70,660)
- Idaho ($69,450)
The top paying industries for animators and multimedia artists are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers ($81,760)
- Other Information Services ($80,310)
- Software Publishers ($76,090)
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers ($75,150)
- Motion Picture and Video Industries ($73,950)
The states with the highest employment levels for animators and multimedia artists are California, New York, Washington, Texas and Georgia.
In West Virginia and across the U.S., the industries with the highest levels of employment are the Motion Picture and Video industries, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, Software Publishers, Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services, and Other Information Services. The group ‘Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers’ has the second highest concentration of employment for animators and multimedia artists, along with an impressive average salary of $75,150 per year.
Job opportunities for salaried and independent animators can be found at West Virginia agencies and studios such as:
- BlaineTurner Advertising, Morgantown
- Bulldog Creative Services, Huntington
- MCWV, Inc., Charleston
- Mind Merge Design, Morgantown
- Presidio Studios, South Lewisburg
- The Barnes Agency, Hurricane
- The Manhattan Group Advertising, Public Relations and Interactive, Charleston
There are more than 50 computer graphics firms in West Virginia, so there are a number of opportunities for animators with a graphics background. Although these positions (and others) are available in most cities throughout the state, most opportunities can be found in principle cities such as Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg, and Wheeling.
West Virginia Animation Training Programs
West Virginia is home to a number of schools that offer art and design programs that may include animation coursework. West Virginia University, Alderson Broaddus College, West Liberty University, University of Charleston, Fairmont State University, and Marshall University are just a few.
More Animation related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Awesome Animation Fact: Despite the fact that Spirited Away was nominated for Best Animated Feature (and won!), the films creator, Hayao Miyazaki, quietly declined to attend the ceremony. He did not publicly explain why until 2009, when he opened up to The New York Times at Comic-Con. The filmmaker was against America’s invasion of Iraq, but the producer of Spirited Away requested that he did not vocalize these opinions. –Mentalfloss.com