With a thriving commercial economy and swift accessibility to three major cities, the state of Maryland is a convenient location for creative professional artists seeking employment in high tech industries. What's more, advances in digital technology have greatly simplified the process of creating animated films. As a result, the demand for animation artists is stronger than ever before.
Maryland Schools and Training Programs for Animation
The state of Maryland is home to many colleges, Universities and training facilities that offer licensing and degree programs in animation design. Aspiring Maryland animators enrolled at local colleges often major in visual arts or photography. Highly respected animation schools in Maryland include Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Columbia, American Career Institute in Baltimore, Columbia and Silver Spring, Sanford-Brown in Hyattsville and Everest Institute in Silver Spring.
Many Maryland artists earn certifications from home. Professional animation training is available everywhere now, thanks to a wealth of accredited online degree programs. Popular online animation schools include the Academy of Art University, Post University, Full Sail University, Stratford Career Institute, University of Phoenix, The Art Institutes and ITT Tech, among others. Some online schools also have physical locations. University of Phoenix has training centers in Greenbelt, Aberdeen, Columbia, Rockville and Timonium. ITT Tech has locations in Owings Mills and Hanover.
Working as an Animator in Maryland
Numerous Maryland businesses recruit the services of professional animators for many assorted tasks. Animation is created for not only for amusement, but also for promotional purposes, commercial advertising, medical diagnostics, mechanical engineering, mobile app development and website design, among others. Maryland companies that hire animation design professionals include colleges, mobile service providers, software developers, equipment manufacturers, automotive companies, photo labs and more.
Some Maryland animators create films for leading local animation studios like Stonebridge Communications in Baltimore, Tom Fetterolf Animation in Annapolis, Achoo Animation in La Plata, Pixeldust Studios in Bethesda and PCM Animation in Silver Spring. Other Maryland animators work for major information technology digital arts firms. Leading Maryland info tech companies include Starr Systems, smartwomanonline.com and Hi-Tech Processing Service in Baltimore.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of full time Maryland animators working for U.S. companies is about $58,590, with an average hourly rate of roughly $28.20. However, this data is based only on the incomes of 560 full time Maryland animators employed by U.S. companies. No reliable data is available regarding the incomes of part time animators, freelance professionals and local artists employed by foreign businesses.
Skills of a Professional Animator
Today's animation methods and techniques are mostly digital, so expertise in computer-generated artwork is among the most crucial skills needed for professional animation. Animators are familiar with professional level software packages like Toon Boom Digital Pro for two-dimensional animation and 3D Studio Max for three-dimensional design. Animators just starting out can learn from free, open source animation programs like Pencil for 2D-imaging or Blender for 3D designs. Other essential skills required of professional animators include advanced drawing technique, photography, web design and interactive media.