Many would-be 3D animators dream of working on the latest Finding Nemo, Ice Age, Toy Story, or another children's feature-length cartoon that rockets them to the forefront of the entertainment industry. But between your animation school graduation date and making the big time lies a broad and happy range of career options that can be both stimulating and financially satisfying.
There are only so many jobs at Disney and Pixar, and not every 3D animator wants to work on motion picture cartoons. Consider the wider field and you'll discover that 3D animators find great success in computer and console game development, television programming, broadband internet animation, broadcast and web advertising, education, research, and military and corporate training.
You can also train for landing specialized jobs within each of the animation sectors. That's because 3D animators can focus on becoming story artists, layout or background artists, presentation animators, texture and lighting specialists, educational process animators, or production designers.
Top animation schools provide the foundation courses in illustration, story boarding, and modeling that can prepare you for the wider field. Classes in Macromedia Flash, Maya, Softimage, and 3D studio Max build flexibility and hands-on skills necessary to build a career in any or all of the niche specialties in 3D animation.
The Department of Labor predicts that among all the graphic design fields, web animators will have the inside track to the greatest number of openings through 2014. Animation pros agree that having a solid portfolio upon graduation is the key to landing your first job.