Simple Guidelines for Taking up Animation Later in Life

Posted by | January 30, 2020 | animation jobs

Before he created the award-winning animated TV show Spongebob SquarePants, Stephen Hillenburg taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute.  It was only after obtaining his Master’s degree in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of Arts that he went on to pursue his animation dream. In 1993, Hillenburg landed a job on Nickelodeon’s animated series Rocko’s Modern Life and in 1996, he took the plunge and pitched his idea of a series revolving around a square sea sponge to Nickelodeon executives. Hillenburg, who passed away in 2018, is proof that it is never too late to pursue a career in animation, as long as you possess a healthy amount of natural talent and a heap of passion and determination.

Pursue your dreams, but be realistic about them

If you are determined to change careers in order to pursue one in animation, start by assessing your own personal interests and skills. This type of analysis will make it increasingly easier for you to establish whether making a career change is indeed viable. Employers generally favor job applicants who are not only in possession of a Bachelor’s degree but also have a good design portfolio.

If you are already suitably qualified, changing careers can be done with relative ease, regardless of whether you are 30 or 50 years old. If you have no suitable qualifications or experience, however, you need to weigh up your options in a realistic and logical manner. Coming out of early retirement at 60 years of age to become an animator may not be very realistic considering it takes, on average, four years to complete a Bachelor’s degree.

Becoming an animator can change your life

According to a recent report from the Department of Labor Statistics, the average American changes job up to 15 times during their lifetime. Taking the plunge like Stephen Hillenburg to become an animator later in life could prove to be the most rewarding thing you have ever done. Not only will you be able to experience the exhilaration first-hand of bringing a character to life, but you will also enjoy the endless engagement of your wildest imagination. As an animator, you never stop learning, both from a technical and an artistic perspective. There are always new technologies and techniques transforming the industry and, in order to stay ahead in the game, it is pivotal to constantly update your skillset.

Prepare before taking the plunge

If you are already in possession of a degree in fine art, graphic arts, or computer animation, your next step would be to compile an eye-catching portfolio for yourself. One way to do this while also getting some experience under the belt is to tackle animation jobs on a freelance basis before formally changing careers. Being able to include relevant work experience on your resume will make your job application look a lot more appealing to prospective employers. If you are not suitably qualified to become an animator, you can consider enrolling for a part-time degree or other acceptable qualification. While this is more time-consuming than studying full-time would be, it is a lot less demanding and allows you to earn a degree while working. 

A career in animation is without any doubt bound to be a very rewarding one. Even switching careers later in life will provide you with endless enjoyment and job satisfaction that has become typical of the industry.

By Jane Evans

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