There is still a high demand for 3D animators in the entertainment and multimedia design professions. According to industry experts Animation Arena, 3D animators and artists with formal software training from colleges and design schools are currently receiving entry-level job offers in the $40,000-$60,000 annual range. For experienced game artists who land a major project that becomes a top seller, salaries can easily climb into the six figures.
Building a strong portfolio of animation projects from your arts school or college will give newly trained 3D animators an edge in the competitive job market. It helps to have completed a range of technical classes in Maya and other state-of-the-art rendering software in addition to storyboarding, life sciences and anatomy, stage lighting, drawing, music, choreography, and layout.
Median annual earnings of 3D animators, as reported by the Department of Labor, ranged from $33,970 and $61,120 in 2002. The 2007 national average salary for an entry-level animator ranges from $47,041 $61,391, according to Salary.com.
Game-design 3D animators tend to earn more than their industry counterparts in other sectors of the profession. Average annual wages for game animators come in at the $45,000 to $70,000 range. Meanwhile, lead animators and creative directors at gaming studios can draw down an annual wage in the $65,000 to $80,000 range.
Many animators, following on-the-job experience, move into supervisory roles or project management positions. Animators-turned-producers can earn into the six figures and those project design managers will a stable of successes can earn upwards of $130,000.