Careers in 3D Design: What To Expect and Jobs To Consider

Updated March 10, 2023

Creating representations of places, people, items and actions can bring certain elements to life. The process of creating these representations is known as three-dimensional design, and it is a career path that many people choose to pursue. Careers in 3D design can span across various industries and applications, as many needs for three-dimensional representations exist. In this article, we discuss career opportunities in 3D design.

What does a career in 3D design involve?

Careers in 3D design often involve taking one-dimensional representations of things, including places, people, processes and actions, and creating three-dimensional representations. The process of creating a 3D design might involve infusing the finished product with one-dimensional drawings and images, as well as adding elements that add life and vitality. Working in 3D design involves using a range of software programs and tools to create those 3D models or visual representations.

In this role, you might work with scientists, engineers, architects, marketing professionals, advertisers or even filmmakers and video game designers. The need for three-dimensional design spans many different industries and applications. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 13% of those employed in the multimedia artist category work in the video and motion picture industry, making this the largest employer of multimedia artists.

In order to work in a 3D designer career, you likely need to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field. Some schools offer more specialized design programs, such as game or video design. If you want to work in a scientific field, consider majoring in one of the sciences with an emphasis on modeling or model creation. Art-focused schools around the country often provide programs focused on 3D modeling and design as well, allowing students to gain hands-on experience as they learn to use the most common software programs and tools to create their own models and designs.

Careers in 3D design

Those with an interest in working in 3D design can find many career opportunities and paths. The entry-level positions often offer opportunities for growth and advancement, especially for those who have strong skills and a good work ethic. Learn more about some of the most common careers in 3D design and what each role entails.

1. Video game designer

National average salary: $31,408 per year

Primary duties: Video game designers create the core features of video games to make them more engaging and exciting. Since technological advancements have allowed for the creation of people, places and subjects in video games that look more realistic than ever before, video game designers use 3D design and modeling to make the characters and settings look more appealing and realistic to the audience.

2. 3D printing technician

National average salary: $35,651 per year

Primary duties: A 3D printing technician prepares files for 3D printing and ensures that the equipment functions properly to deliver a successful prototype or product. Since 3D printing has become a significant aspect of the 3D modeling and design industry, many people who choose to enter this field will have to know how to use 3D printing technology and equipment. A role as a 3D printing technician can provide hands-on experience in an entry-level position.

3. Graphic designer

National average salary: $36,608 per year

Primary duties: A graphic designer creates visual concepts, often through the use of computer software, to communicate ideas and concepts. Graphic designers often work alongside other marketing and advertising professionals to captivate, inform and inspire consumers through brochures, magazines, advertisements and reports. A 3D graphic designer often focuses specifically on three-dimensional visual concepts, such as company logos, illustrations and product renderings.

Related: A Guide to Getting a Job in Graphic Design

4. 3D animator

National average salary: $47,237 per year

Primary duties: A 3D animator creates animations that are three-dimensional and may be used in videos, motion pictures, television programs and other applications. Some 3D animators focus on certain types of animation, such as the creation of objects, humans or backgrounds, while others take a more generalized approach and create animations of all kinds.

5. 3D designer

National average salary: $53,210 per year

Primary duties: A 3D designer is responsible for materializing concepts, including representations of places, people and things, by exploring ideas and addressing any potential concerns or flaws with the plans and one-dimensional images. A 3D designer may also refine their models into products that are ready to go to market.

Related: 11 Types of Graphic Design Jobs to Explore

6. Architectural designer

National average salary: $62,225 per year

Primary duties: An architectural designer works alongside architects and others in the real estate design world to create layouts, plans and drawings for buildings and landscapes. They may also work closely with the client to determine their needs and expectations, creating designs that reflect those desires. Architectural designers also ensure that the blueprints created by architects comply with all building codes and regulations, produce technical drawings and renderings and research product solutions.

Related: Learn About Being an Architect

7. Professor

National average salary: $64,070 per year

Primary duties: A professor of 3D design and modeling provides education to those who want to learn about this field and pursue their own career in the industry. Some professors may choose to focus on certain elements of the field, such as 3D printing, while others offer more generalized education about 3D design and modeling.

8. Art director

National average salary: $75,142 per year

Primary duties: An art director manages the creative staff responsible for creating and pushing out visual concepts, including photography, graphic design and 3D renderings and models. Some art directors work in advertising and marketing, while others apply their skills on film and television production sets. Art directors lead teams of artists, including 3D designers and creators.

9. Web developer

National average salary: $76,016 per year

Primary duties: A web developer designs and creates websites for an organization or multiple clients. They apply the concepts used in 3D design because many modern websites feature three-dimensional imagery and representations to provide a more engaging experience to visitors. Some of their key duties include writing code through the use of programming languages, working with graphics and three-dimensional models, integrating audio and video into the site and creating and testing applications.

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