How To Become A 3D Animator: Skills, Salary And Duties

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A 3D animator is a design professional who interprets concepts and clients' design requirements into 3D images and motion graphics. These animators may work for the entertainment industry, video gaming industry, design industry and several other industries. If you have an artistic endeavour and want to become a 3D animator, knowing more about this job role can help you decide whether it is a good career choice. In this article, we understand how to become a 3D animator, read about their day-to-day duties, explore their salary and discover the skills and work environment of a 3D animator.

Related: What Is An Animator? Definition, Qualifications And Skills

How to become a 3D animator

To understand how to become a 3D animator, follow these steps:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

To become a 3D animator, the first step is enrolling in a relevant bachelor's course. A degree in 3D animation, visual effects and computer animation can help you become a successful animator. Degrees like Bachelor in Design (BDes) or Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or diploma in animation and multimedia or related areas can help you progress your career as a 3D animator. These design programs include elements like art, graphic design, animation, direction, video game design and 3D animation to help you fast track your career.

During your bachelors, it is important to master the core techniques of 3D animation and modelling. Interestingly, employers prefer hiring candidates who may not have a bachelor's degree. Many employers prefer hiring 3D animators without a degree. They look for candidates who have the prerequisite skills and knowledge of creating 3D images and motion graphics.

2. Complete a certification

To increase your earning potential, consider completing a professional certification in 3D animation, computer graphic (CG) arts and visual effects (VFX). Certifications can help you get the desired job because they prove your skills and 3D animation experience. Also, candidates with certification are likely to receive a higher salary and better job prospects than others.

3. Create a portfolio

When hiring for a creative role like a 3D animator, employers prefer hiring candidates who can show a portfolio of their work. Your portfolio showcases your style, artistry, technical capabilities and design philosophy. It also conveys your knowledge of 3D animation and proficiency in using commonly used tools and techniques.

To become a suitable candidate for a job role, tailor your portfolio based on the job description. For example, if an employer wants to hire a candidate capable of creating 3D motion graphics, fill your portfolio with videos instead of images.

4. Gain relevant experience

After completing an undergraduate course, you are likely to work in an entry-level position. As you gain experience, you advance to higher levels. So, before completing your graduation, consider enrolling in a paid or unpaid internship. This gives hands-on experience working in corporate culture and makes you adept at the various job responsibilities of this role. To gain more experience, consider working as a freelancer or volunteer for schools and non-profit organisations. You can even shadow an experienced 3D animator to enhance your skill set.

5. Build a strong professional network

To earn freelance, part-time or full-time opportunities, it is essential to network with professionals working in the creative industry. Often, many employers hire 3D animators through referrals or word-of-mouth publicity. Having a strong professional network can help you win recommendations and referrals for animation-related projects. You can build a professional network by joining a professional 3D animation association and connecting with professionals who share the same passion as yours.

6. Upgrade your skills

With technological advancement, the design tools and techniques may change. Employers prefer hiring candidates who constantly upgrade their skill set to stay abreast with the changing technology. Stakeholders in the creative industry rely heavily on using new technologies to provide a superior experience to their audience. The ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment is essential for this job role.

Related: Top In Demand Skills To Develop For Career Advancement

7. Create a CV and apply for jobs

Create a CV enlisting your skills, experience and qualification for applying to relevant job roles. Mention the internships, certifications and other animation courses you completed. You can even share links to your portfolio in your CV for an employer to gauge your skills. Also, when applying to a job role, explore the job description and pick up keywords from it and use it in your resume. This makes your CV applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. Upload your CV into different job portals and apply to relevant positions.

Related: How To Become A 3D Artist: Skills, Qualifications And Duties

What does a 3D animator do?

Apart from creating lifelike animations, a 3D animator fulfils many day-to-day activities. Some of the typical job duties of these professionals are:

  • using design software to create animated images, graphics, animated characters and motion graphics

  • researching about the project to get animation ideas

  • using storyboards to develop motion graphics or scenes that require animation

  • listening to feedback and altering animations to suit client requirements

  • presenting the final animated piece to the client for seeking approval

  • using artistic techniques and creativity to provide information in a visually compelling manner

  • adjusting colours, shadows and lighting to give the lifelike appearance to animated creatures

  • integrating client's feedback in the design element

  • communicating and collaborating with other design professionals to create a product as per design requirement

  • creating animation using computer-generated imagery (CGI)

  • meeting with clients to understand their 3D animation requirement

  • creating storyboards for shooting and editing videos

Related: What Is A 3D Animator? (Job Description And Requirements)

Average salary of a 3D animator

The average salary of a 3D animator is ₹21,488 per month. Their exact salary depends upon several factors, like industry, employer, location, portfolio and specific duties. 3D animators who work on film and television projects may earn a higher salary than those employed by some companies. The salary may increase or decrease depending on whether you work as a freelancer or in-house 3D animator.

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips And Examples

Work environment of a 3D animator

When working as a 3D animator, you are likely to spend most of your day working in an office environment. If you specialise in designing 3D characters, you can work in diverse industries like advertising agencies, film and video production, TV stations, graphic design firms, web design firms. You may teach at colleges or universities.

Many 3D animators may work from home as freelancers. 3D animators who work full time typically work in a nine-to-five job. Based on the project's deadline, they may work overtime or on weekends. A 3D animator may meet creative directors and clients to determine the project's scope, budget, goals and time frame.

Skills of a 3D animator

Some skills required to excel as a 3D animator are:

  • Artistic skills: Employers prefer candidates with artistic skills because such candidates have an instinct for style, colour and animation that suits the client's requirement. They use their artistic skills to transform everyday objects into 3D objects.

  • Creativity: Creative 3D animators are the one what make their motion graphic or images memorable and enjoyable for their audience. Using their creativity skills, they use imagery that captures the audience's attention.

  • Collaboration skills: Most animation-related projects are multidisciplinary and require a 3D animator to work collaboratively with colleagues from different departments. They may work collaboratively with scriptwriters, producers, film directors, visual effect specialists or musicians.

  • Organisational skills: These professionals can multi-task to manage various aspects of an animation project, from managing the colour to lighting and background of motion graphics. Organisation is a crucial skill for accomplishing goals and efficiently managing time.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking helps a 3D animator understand the creative direction of a project. This skill set helps you visualise the final product even before you create it.

  • Patience: Mastering every tiny detail of a 3D animation is a time-consuming process and requires patience. When you work on your first project, even a 10-second-long animation clip may take several days to reach perfection.

  • Proficiency in texturing and lightning: Providing the right texture and light to graphics can help them look more realistic. Proficiency in visual effects is essential to become an expert and deliver 3D animation that people remember for a long time.

  • Proficiency in design software: 3D animators use specialised software to transform 2D objects into 3D graphics. The ability to use the latest and commonly used design software is essential for a rewarding career.

Related: How Much Does An Animator Make? (With Job Duties And Skills)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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