Animation Jobs: A Guide to Your Dream Career

Are you thinking about a career in animation? Whether you’re drawn to the creative artistry of character design or the technical precision of 3D modeling, the animation industry offers a diverse range of roles that might be perfect for you.

What skills are you excited to bring to life in this dynamic field? Each role has its different demands, but one thing is for sure — you will definitely need to get used to spending hours in a sitting position, in front of a big-screen (or various screens).

This guide will help you navigate the various animation jobs, highlighting what each role entails and the skills you’ll need to succeed. Let’s explore where you might fit in the animation world.

Source: StockCake

Types of Animation Jobs

Animation is not just about bringing characters to life or knowing how to draw. It’s a quite wide industry that offers a spectrum of career opportunities (even for the less artistic talented ones).

Whether you’re interested in the artistic aspect or the technical side, the animation field has something for everyone. Below, we delve into the most common roles within the animation pipeline, highlighting the unique requirements and recent trends shaping these careers.

Character Designer

Character designers are the visionaries behind the characters in animation, crafting the appearance, style, and personalities that resonate with audiences. They work closely with directors and writers to develop characters that fit seamlessly into the world of the story, often exploring various designs to perfectly match the narrative needs.

Character designers must blend artistic skill with storytelling, understanding not only how to draw but how to convey character traits through visual elements. 

For example, if there’s a busboy involved in the storyline, the character designer must adapt the busboy responsibilities into his looks, his appearance, name and part in the entire script.

  • Requirements: Strong illustration skills, creativity in character development, and a good grasp of anatomy and expressions. Familiarity with animation software and an understanding of how characters move and emote in dynamic scenes is crucial.

Art Director

Art directors play a pivotal role in setting the visual tone for projects. They guide the artistic vision, making crucial decisions about the style and aesthetic of the animation. This role demands not just a keen eye for design but also the ability to inspire and direct a team of artists.

The art director ensures that every visual element aligns cohesively with the narrative, creating an immersive experience for the audience. As the bridge between creative vision and final output, their influence shapes the visual storytelling of the animation, from initial sketches to the final frames.

  • Requirements: Extensive experience in graphic design or visual arts, leadership skills, and proficiency in design software such as Adobe Creative Suite.

Motion Graphic Designer

Motion graphic designers specialize in creating dynamic graphic content that combines the principles of animation and graphic design. This role involves crafting visually appealing sequences and effects that enhance multimedia projects, including commercials, promotional videos, and social media content.

They blend creative design skills with storytelling to communicate ideas in an engaging and direct way. They often work with a mix of text, images, and video, creating content that is not only eye-catching but also effectively communicates the message of the project.

  • Requirements: Strong skills in software such as Adobe After Effects and Photoshop, a good eye for design, timing, and color, and the ability to translate abstract concepts into compelling visual narratives. Creativity and problem-solving skills are essential, as well as the ability to adapt designs to different styles and media platforms.

Storyboard Artist

Storyboard artists are the architects of the animation world, drafting the blueprint that guides every subsequent step of the production process. They translate scripts into visual narratives, sketching out scenes to establish the flow of the storyline.

This role is crucial for visualizing the initial concepts of the project, allowing directors and other team members to foresee and refine how the animation will unfold. A storyboard artist must be adept at depicting action and expressing ideas visually, often serving as the first step in bringing a script to life.

  • Requirements: Strong illustration skills, a good understanding of cinematography and narrative pacing, and experience with digital storyboarding tools.

3D Animator

3D animators are at the heart of the production process in the animation industry, breathing life into characters and environments with their technical skills. Using advanced software, they create the illusion of movement, adding depth and dimension to the story.

This role requires a blend of artistic talent and technical prowess, as animators must understand the fundamentals of body mechanics and motion to create believable animations that resonate with viewers.

Nowadays, the integration of AI in animation tools is helping animators automate repetitive tasks, such as lip-syncing and basic motions, allowing more focus on creative aspects

  • Requirements: Proficiency in 3D animation software like Maya, Blender, or 3DS Max, and a solid understanding of animation principles such as timing, weight, and anticipation.

Rigging Artist

Rigging artists are technical experts who create ‘skeletons’ or rigs that allow 3D models to move in a realistic and articulate manner. They build complex systems of bones and controls within the models, which animators then use to pose and animate characters and objects.

This role requires a deep understanding of anatomy, physics, and geometry to ensure that the rigs are efficient and capable of performing required actions without breaking the models.

  • Requirements: Proficiency in 3D modeling and rigging software like Autodesk Maya, strong problem-solving skills, and a solid understanding of both the artistic and technical aspects of animation.

Source: StockCake

Visual Effects (VFX) Artist

VFX artists are responsible for creating the illusions or effects that enhance the visual storytelling in animation. They work on aspects that cannot be captured live or created directly within the animation software, such as explosions, fire, and magical effects.

This role blends creativity with technical skill, requiring artists to use various software tools to craft elements that integrate seamlessly with the animated environment.

  • Requirements: Strong skills in VFX software like Adobe After Effects or Houdini, a keen eye for detail, and the ability to work closely with other departments to ensure effects align with the overall vision of the project.

Lighting Artist

Lighting artists are the less-exposed heroes of animation, setting the mood and atmosphere of every scene with their skillful manipulation of light. They play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of the animation, using lighting to support the emotional tone of the story and highlight important elements within each frame.

Effective lighting can elevate the visual storytelling, making scenes more dramatic, realistic, or evocative based on the narrative needs.

  • Requirements: In-depth knowledge of lighting techniques and software such as Arnold or RenderMan, along with a keen sense of how lighting affects mood and perception.


Compositors finalize the visual elements of an animation by combining layers of previously created material. They ensure that all the components, such as animated characters, backgrounds, and visual effects, come together in a visually coherent and aesthetically pleasing way.

This role is critical in the post-production process, requiring a meticulous eye for detail and a deep understanding of color, texture, and composition to achieve a seamless integration of all elements.

  • Requirements: Strong proficiency in compositing software like Nuke or After Effects and a good understanding of color theory and film sensitivity.

Sound Designer

Sound designers in animation create the auditory world of the animation, matching sound effects and music cues with visual actions to enhance storytelling. They sculpt the sonic landscape of the project, from subtle background noises to the prominent soundtracks that accompany the visuals, ensuring that the audio complements the animation and enriches the viewer’s experience.

  • Requirements: Experience with sound design software, a creative ear for sound blending, and the ability to synchronize audio with visual content.

Source: StockCake

Final Piece of Advice: How to Get Your Animation Dream Job?

Ready to make your mark in the animation industry? Preparing for a job in the animation industry involves a mix of formal education, skill development, and networking.

Here’s a 5-step guide to set you up for success:

#1: Hit the Books: Dive into a degree or certificate in animation, graphic design, or even computer science. Check out programs at places like the California Institute of the Arts or USC to get started.

#2: Tech Up: Get comfy with industry-standard software—think Adobe After Effects, Maya, and Blender. These tools are your bread and butter in the animation kitchen.

#3: Show Off Your Work: Assemble a killer portfolio that showcases your versatility and style. Whether it’s character sketches or full-blown animations, make sure your work pops up and grabs attention.

#4: Networking: Step out and mingle. Hit up animation workshops, industry meetups, and online forums. Remember, in LA, sometimes it’s all about who you know.

#5: Gain Experience (even without a serious paycheck): Snag an internship or an entry-level gig. This real-world experience is gold for your resume and gives you a taste of the industry hustle.

And here’s a nugget of advice as you step into the animation arena: Stay curious and keep evolving. The animation world moves fast, and keeping up with new tech and trends is what will set you apart. So, keep pushing your creative boundaries, never stop learning, and don’t be afraid to let your unique style shine.