Graphics and Animator Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-12-0215 min read

Graphics and animation careers involve the creation and visual representation of ideas, products, and brand stories.

Graphics and animation experts creatively combine art and technology in designing static and motion images.

Many organizations in eCommerce, advertising, and media engage the services of graphics and animation professionals who visually communicate their concepts.

Why Choose Graphics and Animation?

The following are reasons why you should consider choosing a graphics and animation career:

  • Experts in graphics and animation earn a median income of $78,790 according to a BLS report.
  • Employment of experts in graphics and animation careers is expected to grow by 5% between 2021 and 2031 leading to about 6,700 animation job openings yearly.
  • Animators and graphics experts are often self-employed and can work from home.

How to Start your Graphics and Animation Journey

You can begin your graphics and animation journey early by taking art and design-related subjects in high school.

However, to kickstart your career in any graphics and animation field, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics, or other related disciplines.

Some animators are self-taught. So, maximize available graphics and animation courses online to build your skills and knowledge.

You can also gain hands-on experience by handling free projects.

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

Although having self developed graphics skills can afford you entry-level jobs, an associate degree in graphics and animation equips you with basic skills to scale in your chosen field.

You’ll need a high school diploma or a GED to undertake an associate degree in the field.

To grow in your graphics and animation career, however, you need a more advanced degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most employers of graphics and animation professionals request a bachelor’s degree before hiring.

Completing a bachelor's in computer science or related fields like computer design or digital animation enables you to sharpen your creativity.

Course modules for a bachelor’s degree in graphics and animation focus on building computer skills and how to combine lights, color, and texture to create visual arts.

Master’s Degree

A master's in graphics and animation is a way to affirm your authority in the field. You can also have access to better animation job opportunities with higher pay.

A master's program will help you familiarize yourself with different dimensional animation techniques and advanced design creation and editing.

Doctorate in Graphics and Animation

A doctorate is typically the highest degree in any discipline. Obtaining your doctorate is the first step if you plan on taking research or teaching roles in graphics and animation.

Also, a doctorate provides you with updated knowledge of the latest graphics software like adobe creative suite and technological trends in the industry.

Employment Prospects

Graphics and animation experts are employed in wide-ranging industries like entertainment, media, gaming, and eCommerce.

The labor statistics above projects a 5% boost in demand for graphics and animation professionals between 2021 and 2031.

About 6,700 graphics and animation jobs will be available within the period.

Graphics and Animation Career Forecast

With digitization comes the need for more industries to provide visual representations of their products and services.

Consequently, the demand for graphics and animation in contemporary businesses will continue to grow.

Graphics designers are required to advertise brands and enhance their identities using logos.

Lucrative Graphics and Animation Career Paths

Graphics Designer

Graphics designers create visual art forms of products and concepts in ways that effectively communicate brand stories.

Average Salary

Graphics designers earn a median salary of $50,710 annually. The top 10 percentile of graphics designers can make up to $98,260.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a computer graphics designer include:

  • Collaborate with the art director to determine the type, scope, and demands of a project
  • Use sophisticated computer graphics design tools to create visual content for brands
  • Edit graphic arts and designs to capture the right message
  • Provide graphic presentations to clients
  • Develop overall production structure and graphic design for new products

Industries Employing Graphics Designers

Some industries that employ graphic design professionals include:

  • Multimedia firms
  • Technology companies
  • Publishing


An illustrator creates images to be used on commercial products and printed materials.

Average Salary

Illustrators earn an annual average income of $69,010.

Since most are freelancers, illustrators have unlimited growth opportunities. However, those in the 90th percentile can earn about $125,930 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

An illustrator is responsible for the following:

  • Create images and drawings to meet client’s expectations
  • Utilize special design tools like computer-aided design (CAD) software to edit designs
  • Work in a team to generate unique and creative visual concepts
  • Assist the graphic design team in developing computer graphics for prints

Industries Employing Illustrators

Industries that hire illustrators are:

  • Fashion
  • Media houses
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Government

Brand Identity Designer

Brand identity designers are tasked with creating a visual representation of business entities to differentiate them from other brands.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of brand identity designers is $63,851. They may earn about $12,581 additional income from bonuses, commission, and profit sharing.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a brand identity designer include:

  • Design brand elements like logos, color palettes, complimentary cards, e.t.c.
  • Brainstorm and suggest unique brand designs
  • Collaborate with team members to create design elements that align with customer’s peculiar needs

Industries Employing Brand Identity Designers

Industries that employ brand identity designers include:

  • eCommerce
  • Media
  • Telecommunication

User Experience (UX) Designers

A User experience (UX) designer creates an interactive and convenient product interface for consumers.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of UX designers in the USA is $95,569. User experience designers also earn additional payments of about $21,140 from commissions and bonuses.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a user experience (UX) designer include:

  • Design and test the layout of websites or applications to evaluate and ensure easy navigation
  • Generate and distribute research surveys on product users’ experiences
  • Analyze product engagements and reception

Industries Employing User Experience (UX) Designers

Industries that employ user experience (UX) designers include:

  • Fintech
  • Software companies
  • Telecommunication
  • eCommerce

Print Designer

Print designers develop printable visual designs on a wide range of consumer products like stationaries, books, cards, and flyers.

Average Salary

Averagely, a print designer earns $42,787 yearly. The 75th percentile on the print designer's pay scale possibly makes $67,000 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a print designer include:

  • Brainstorm and generate innovative product designs that meet customer’s expectations
  • Suggest ways to improve current product designs
  • Present mockups to team members for evaluation and feedback
  • Oversee printing to ensure the output is consistent with the original design

Industries Employing Print Designers

Industries that employ print designers include:

  • Publishers
  • Printing press


Animators design and develop multiple image frames for use in digital and traditional media. They help create animated movies and support people who work in video game design roles.

Average Salary

Animators earn, on average, $54,614 annually. Experts in the animation industry enjoy an additional income of about $3,746 yearly from bonuses and tips.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of an animator include:

  • Assess project briefs to understand the requirements
  • Create image frames by incorporating multiple media elements to be animated
  • Research the best design methodology to bring desired results
  • Develop design drafts to be presented for team evaluation

Industries Employing Animators

Industries that employ animators include:

  • Movie production
  • Video game designers
  • Multimedia

Creative Designer

A creative designer creates advertising and marketing materials to enhance brand engagement and conversion.

Average Salary

The annual average salary of creative designers is $59,747. A creative designer’s pay could however range between $43,000 and $95,000 depending on experience level and skills.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a creative designer include:

  • Collaborate with other creatives to convert marketing ideas into visuals
  • Oversee the creative design process and offer inputs like inclusion of motion graphic elements
  • Create digital drawings and logos using special software
  • Meet with clients and teams to brainstorm on the best design approach to achieve set goals

Industries Employing Creative Designers

Industries that employ creative designers include:

  • Entertainment
  • Media
  • Telecommunication

Art Director

Art directors are in charge of determining the right art elements to use for magazines, product packaging, and media production.

Average Salary

Art directors earn a median annual wage of $100,890. The top 10 percentile of art directors earns as much as $194,130 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of an art director include:

  • Decide the most suitable visual representation for a project
  • Oversee the creative process of art production
  • Manage team members like the graphic and set designers to ensure that ideas align
  • Present budget and project schedules

Industries Employing Art Director

Industries that employ art directors include:

  • Advertising agencies
  • PR firms
  • Movie production

Video Editor

A video editor organizes and modifies video footage to create intriguing final products.

Average Salary

The median annual wage of video editors is $49,230. However, the top 10% of video editors earn above $101,380 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a video editor include:

  • Discuss the idea for a project with clients
  • Shoot video content in line with the client’s goals
  • Cut, process, and assemble footage in a meaningful way
  • Collaborate with other crew members to have perfect

Industries Employing Video Editors

Industries that employ video editors include:

  • Media production
  • Government

Photo Editor

Photo editors capture, process, and modify images to suit different purposes.

Average Salary

The annual base salary of photo editors is $49,205. Photo editors may earn between $41,000 and $67,000 aside from an additional income of $3,121 from commissions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a photo editor include:

  • Shoot and select suitable images for a project
  • Produce high-quality photographs with special effects
  • Modify color, quality, and other aspects of images
  • Collaborate with photographers when taking live images
  • Discuss budgets and ideas for a project with clients

Industries Employing Photo Editors

Industries that employ photo editors include:

  • Multimedia
  • Modeling agencies
  • Government
  • Public relations firms

3D Artist

A 3D artist develops and produces three-dimensional visual designs and elements using computer software.

Average Salary

A 3D artist earns an average annual wage of $55,393. These artists create computer generated images and do computer based design tasks that earn up to $92,000 yearly depending on location, experience, and skills.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a 3D artist include:

  • Design images and characters in augmented reality
  • Create storyboards for a new project
  • Assist production team to meet project deadlines
  • Research the latest technologies and ways of executing a particular project

Industries Employing 3D Artists

Industries that employ 3D artists include:

  • Movie production
  • Game development industry
  • Building and architecture
  • Digital companies


Cartoonists create images and drawings used in comic strips, animated films, and books.

Average Salary

Cartoonists typically earn between $37,000 and $58,000 annually. However, the average yearly salary of a cartoonist is $44,349.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a cartoonist include:

  • Develop a comic outline for projects
  • Share project ideas with clients and the production team
  • Design or manually sketch characters for movies, books, and comic strips
  • Research innovations and the latest techniques to execute projects

Industries Employing Cartoonists

Industries that employ cartoonists include:

  • Video games developers
  • Movie and media companies
  • Publishing firms
  • Fashion

Video Games Developer

Video game developers create visual stories and transform ideas into games that can be played.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of video game developers is $74,947. Game developers in the 75th percentile earn $104,000 and above annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a video games developer include:

  • Combine programming and designing skills to create animations for video games
  • Research game ideas
  • Design storyboards to guide in game development
  • Fix bugs and other technical issues

Industries Employing Video Games Developers

Industries that employ video games developers include:

  • Game development companies
  • Mobile phones manufacturers

User Interface (UI) Designer

A user interface (UI) designer creates interactive programs and digital products that are easy to use and resonates with the target audience.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of UI designers in the USA is $85,685.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a user interface (UI) designer include:

  • Create interactive and accessible user interface to enhance customer experience
  • Design and distribute surveys to gain insight into the users’ experience of an app, website, or digital product
  • Use analytics to understand user behavior

Industries Employing User Interface (UI) Designers

Industries that employ user interface (UI) designers include:

  • Application and software developers
  • Digital and technology firms
  • Government

Advertising Designer

Advertising designers combine their knowledge of design with marketing to produce advertorial materials to sell a product or service.

Average Salary

Advertising designers earn, on average, $52,300 annually. They may make an extra $13,083 yearly from profits, commissions, or bonuses.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of an advertising designer include:

  • collaborate with the marketing team to develop advertisement ideas
  • Transform ideas into ads that enhance conversion rate
  • Conduct market research to determine the suitable advert style for the target audience

Industries Employing Advertising Designers

Industries that employ advertising designers include:

  • Government
  • Manufacturing
  • eCommerce
  • Mobile technology

VFX Compositor

A VFX compositor specializes in combining all digital assets to create one final image.

Average Salary

The average annual income of VFX compositors is $58,315. A typical pay range for VFX compositors falls between $48,000 and $85,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a VFX compositor include:

  • Create special visual effects on images
  • Suggest image edits and ways to improve digital assets
  • Work with the production team to understand the design goal
  • Perform administrative and clerical functions as determined by the production team

Industries Employing VFX Compositors

Industries that employ VFX compositors include:

  • Film production
  • Media houses

How to Boost your Graphics and Animation Career

Most of the graphics and animation careers can be learned online or on your own. However, you must first decide which one you have an interest in.

Choose the best-suited graphics and animation career that aligns with your goals and natural talent.

Then move on to gain formal knowledge of your chosen career path. A bachelor’s degree in any graphics and animation-related field is necessary.

Combine formal knowledge and skills with hands-on experience by taking up an internship or entry-level role.

Finally, continually enhance your portfolio by learning new graphics and animation skills online. Experiment latest software innovations on personal projects.

Pros and Cons of Graphics and Animation Careers

The following are some pros and cons to consider before you choose a career in graphics and animation:


  • Numerous freelancing opportunities
  • Availability of work-from-home option
  • High salary and remuneration potential
  • Job flexibility and creative freedom
  • Employment growth projection
  • Satisfaction from bringing ideas to life


  • Most graphics and animation projects are time-consuming and stressful
  • Strict deadlines and tight schedules
  • Fierce competition for available jobs especially for freelancers
  • An overwhelming feeling of monotony from doing the same tasks frequently
  • Occasional creative block leading to inability to generate ideas

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Graphics and Animation

Studying graphics and animation helps you to develop useful skills. Some of those skills include:

Critical Thinking and Analysis

Graphics and animation careers demand a highly critical thinking process and analysis of project briefs combined with an artistic ability.

You need to understand what clients need and develop strategies to meet project goals. Brainstorming is a major activity a graphics and animation professional engages in regularly.

An error or oversight in task analysis can reflect in the final images or products leading to losses.

Software Skills

Graphics and animation careers rely on physical tools as well as sophisticated software to create designs and digital assets.

You require in-depth knowledge of computer and industry-specific technologies to execute projects,

New software that makes the graphics and animation job easier continues to emerge. You must adapt quickly to these tools by building your technical skills.

Management Skills

A great sense of management and leadership is necessary to thrive in any of the graphics and animation careers of your choice.

You’ll be expected to organize and plan the project execution process. A graphics and animation expert must be able to oversee a creative team and manage clients’ resources.

Interpersonal Skills

Communication is key in graphics and animation careers. You might be required to work with a team to create visual representations of a client’s product.

In such a situation, a graphics and animation professional must possess excellent interpersonal skills to be able to work in or lead a team peacefully.

Attention to Detail

A keen attention to detail is a fundamental requirement for any graphics and animation career path you choose.

You’ll need to be observant to catch artistic insights and relevant details that can influence overall results.

A graphics designer must possess sharp sight to avoid spelling errors or creating flawed designs.

How to Prepare for a Graphics and Animation Career

Similar to other professions, you need to prepare for your graphics and animation career to avoid making mistakes.

Preparation will also help you scale faster in the industry. Here’s how to prepare:

1. Decide on the Graphics and Animation Career of Your Choice

If you already have some elementary art skills or an interest in design, decide on the particular graphics and animation career path you want.

To hone your craft, you must first know which of the numerous graphics and animation disciplines you’d like to focus on. Get a mac computer to practice your new skills on.

Specializing in any career positions you as an authority in the field.

2. Complete a Bachelor's Degree

You can leverage a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics or any design-related course to kickstart your graphics and animation career.

Employers typically request a minimum bachelor’s degree to employ graphics artists and animators.

Furthermore, a degree provides you the basic entry-level skills and opens you to internship opportunities.

3. Obtain Post Graduate Degrees in Graphics and Animation

Completing a postgraduate degree in graphics and animation affords you greater job opportunities, especially in the field of research and academics.

Also, a doctorate provides a more advanced insight into the graphics and animation occupation.

4. Gain Field Experience

Graphics and animation involve practical work and a robust portfolio is needed to grow in this field.

Build your skills and portfolio by acquiring practical experience using industry standard software.

Take up paid and unpaid entry-level roles. You can sign up on freelancing sites and get gigs to work on.

Graphics and Animation Resources to Help Your Career

The internet is rife with free resources to enhance your graphics and animation career journey. Here are a few:

  • Pixabay: graphics and animation creators can explore millions of free images and effects from pixabay without the fear of copyright infringement.
  • Videvo: videvo is a one-stop platform to access video footage, graphics templates, and other useful tools to enhance your career growth.
  • Udemy: Whether you’re a beginner or a professional looking to brush up your skills, Udemy offers hundreds of courses in graphics and animation to meet your needs.

How to Switch to a Graphics and Animation Career

Switching from any discipline to a graphics and animation career is easy as long as you’re willing to put in the work to gain the requisite skills in the field.

You can undertake a degree program to learn graphics and animation skills or explore thousands of online tutorials, courses, and software.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Graphics and Animation?

Graphics and animation are visual representations of an idea, a product, or a service. It entails the use of physical tools and computer software to create visual designs that inform or entertain.

What certification do I need for a Graphics and Animation career?

No certification is required to begin a graphics and animation career.

However, as you advance, you need some relevant certifications to assert your authority and build your skills in graphics and animation.

One of these certifications is Adobe Certified Associate (ACA).

Can I get a Graphics and Animation degree online?

You can complete a degree in graphics and animation online. Also, most graphics and animation degree programs allow for hybrid learning arrangements where you can combine physical and online classes.

What fields can Graphics and Animation professionals work in?

Graphics and animation professionals have access to multiple employment opportunities. Their services are often required in the movie industry, eCommerce businesses, media production, advertising, and government agencies.

Is there a high demand for Graphics and Animation majors?

Yes, graphics and animation majors are in high demand across the world.

As more businesses and brands are going digital, there’s an increased need for graphics and animation professionals to design visual identities and products.

Final Thoughts

If you’re creative and enjoy the process of transforming concepts into visual products, then you should consider a graphics and animation career.

Any of the aforementioned graphics and animation careers offer a thrilling experience in the field and potential job satisfaction.

Decide the one that best suits your goals and pursue it with dedication.

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