Animator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Animator is responsible for creating a series of images known as frames, to simulate movement. Their duties include working with creative professionals including storytellers, designers and voice actors to produce films, video games or graphics for commercials and other forms of TV entertainment.

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Animator Duties and Responsibilities

An animator needs to be able to carry out certain tasks to excel at their job. These duties and responsibilities include:

  • Conceptualizing ideas for characters, scenes, backgrounds and other animation elements
  • Creating character sketches for new animations based on design briefs
  • Developing storyboards for animation projects
  • Designing backgrounds, sets and other elements of the animated environment
  • Developing timing and pacing of motion, based on audio requirements
  • Working with the story editors to merge the various layers of animation
  • Recording dialogue for the animation, where necessary
  • Collaborating with other creatives including designers, photographers and other animators to finalize projects

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What Does an Animator Do?

Animators oversee the creation of two-dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D) or computer-generated images within the entertainment, gaming and advertising industries. They typically draw the images by hand or use computer software for their creations. Throughout the process, they collaborate with other animators, get advice from senior animators and use feedback from clients to further evolve their projects. An Animator’s day-to-day responsibilities often involve working on a team to complete assigned graphic elements with the goal of meeting project deadlines.

Animator Skills and Qualifications

A successful Animator candidate will have the following prerequisite skills and qualifications:

  • Excellent creativity and originality
  • Superior graphic design skills
  • Superior knowledge of the 12 principles of animation such as staging, timing, ease in, ease out and anticipation
  • Proficiency in the use of design and animation software
  • In-depth understanding of mathematical and geometric concepts
  • Knowledge of color theory
  • Great attention to detail
  • Ability to work in large teams

Animator Salary Expectations

Salary depends on whether you are mainly focusing on 2D or 3D animated projects. A 2D animator salary is about $20.66 per hour while a 3D animator can make about $17.44 per hour. Salary will vary depending on education, experience and if the position is full or part-time.

Animator Education and Training Requirements

Typically, becoming an Animator requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Animation or any related discipline. These courses will offer modules in visual effects, drawing and illustration, modeling and rendering and lighting. However, it’s not unusual for Animators to hold only an Associate’s degree. Postgraduate degrees in film animation or web publishing are also useful, depending on the area of specialization. 

Animator Experience Requirements

A qualified Animator candidate will have a minimum of one year’s experience in the field. They should be familiar with conceptualizing characters from the ideation phase to sketching, into the final creation. Animators should be comfortable working with computer graphics tools, and using them to create storyboards for animation projects. An experienced animator should have a proven record of delivering artistic work to client specifications and within the required timelines.

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Frequently asked questions about Animators

What is the average amount of working hours for Animators per week?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animators typically work normal hours during the work week (40 hours). This may vary depending on the employer or deadline needs.

What industries do Animators typically work in?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animators can work in a variety of industries. Statistics from 2018 state that most Animators are self-employed, meaning, they hire themselves out to clients for contractual or freelance jobs. The most common industry that proceeds self-employment, is motion picture and video industries in which Animators help produce animated films and television shows. The third is computer systems design and related services, followed by software publishers and companies in advertising, public relations and other services like marketing firms.

Should I hire for in-house or remote animator positions?

Whether you decide to hire for in-house versus remote Animator positions depends on the purpose of your business and the duration of your hiring needs. For example, if you own a marketing firm, hiring for permanent in-house Animator positions may be a good option. This ensures that you have professionals on-stand-by to help create intriguing graphics for clients as needed.

In contrast, if you own a small real estate firm and want to create animation for a local cable advertisement, it might be more beneficial for you to hire a remote Animator on a contractual basis, especially in cases when you won’t need them permanently, to save money in payroll expenses.

What is the difference between a 2D animation and a 3D animation?

According to the difference between 2D animation and 3D animation is that 2D animation focuses on the height and width (length) of an object. In contrast, 3D animation focuses on not only height and width but also depth of an object. Similarly, these two types of animation differ in the level of expense they incur for your company. 

According to, 3D animation is typically more expensive due to the fact that it requires additional time and software to achieve a result. This is something to think about depending on your budgeting needs when deciding what type of animator you want to hire.

Do animators need a license?

Animators do not need a license to qualify for a job position. They do however need to have a bachelor’s degree as mentioned. An optional but beneficial qualification may be certification in one or more areas such as web design, computer animation or graphic arts to demonstrate skill-level and dedication to the industry.

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