Before deciding to pursue a master’s degree in animation, prospective applicants should conduct extensive research. Doing so will help them understand the potential advantages and disadvantages of the venture. Researching will also allow them to find the best animation programs within their region.
One of the first things that students must analyze is the way that they expect to derive value out of the degree. For instance, if someone wants to obtain more knowledge, they will usually see graduate studies as invaluable. After all, given the chance to specialize, a master’s degree is perfect for becoming an expert in narrow subject areas.
What happens when a person simply wants to increase their earnings, however? Will a master’s degree still prove to be valuable to those who focus on the lucrativeness of their animating career? Well, albeit somewhat inconclusive, there is only one way to answer this; it depends.
Job Requirements for Animators
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics researched salaries of multimedia artists, which include animators, they surveyed 71,600 professionals. After reviewing their educational backgrounds, they concluded that most entry-level roles require bachelor’s degrees. While this does not mean that folks who have graduate degrees are few and far between, it is a good representation of the industry’s expectations. A Master of Arts in Animation is optional, not mandatory. Outside of positions that depend on highly specialized creators, an undergraduate degree will generally suffice.
Determining the Financial Cost of Graduate Studies
Since it is not required, the value of a master’s degree in animation is extremely subjective. Courtesy of their ever-changing goals and expectations, artists will assign different factors to the process of valuing further studies. Some might prioritize the fact that graduate courses require undivided attention and eliminate people’s ability to work. Others may focus on the rigorous curriculum that goes into graduate-level programs. The only common denominator, which everyone will eventually consider, is the cost of a master’s degree.
According to USA Today, an average alumnus or alumna owes between $28,000 and $29,000 of student debt. Once the value of money, inflation and interest rates enter the equation, such figures can easily morph into perpetual liabilities. In other words, it may be virtually impossible for people to pay them off. Every animator should take certain steps to avoid falling victim to the said statistics, and analyzing the cost of graduate programs is one of the ways to achieve that goal.
Due to the differences with geographical restrictions, popularity, track record and similar, though, predicting an average cost of an animation degree is almost impossible. For those who need a basic frame of reference, knowing that nearly all graduate programs in the United States range from $15,000 to $20,000 is a good starting point.
Marginal Value of Graduate Studies
Considering the substantial cost, it is fair to expect that every master’s degree in animation comes with a plethora of value. If nothing else, spending an extra year or two in college should help creators take their knowledge to the next level. So, what are some marginal benefits of undergoing advanced education?
The first benefit is the incomparably bigger job market. A master’s degree improves the candidate’s work eligibility, which translates to more opportunities. Having a wider range of options helps acquire more leverage, which facilitates higher pay. Also, a boost in marketability enhances job security.
Loss of Income
Besides the expenditures, prospective animators need to sacrifice a lot of their time. Since most programs require two to three years, creators will have to delay their entry to the workforce. Doing so means that they will have to keep waiting for their full-time income while relying on part-time or seasonal projects. As per the previous data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, multimedia artists earn a median compensation of roughly $70,000 per year.
Accordingly, those who wait for an extra 12 to 36 months will miss out on anywhere from $70,000 to $210,000 worth of pay. After accounting for the hefty tuition and fees, it is clear that there are some major financial downsides, especially for animators who do not receive scholarships or federal aid.
Is There Enough Value to Translate to Action?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that someone who has a master’s degree can expect to earn an extra $228 per week. While it may not seem like much, especially when salaries of $70,000 per year come to mind, this difference translates to over $350,000 during a 30-year career. Thus, missing 12, 24 or 36 months, which accumulate to either $70,000, $140,000 or $210,000, will not harm the long-term salary outlook.
So, a Master of Arts in Animation does have a lot of value. Nevertheless, each person has to decide if that value is enough for them to sacrifice a few years of their professional life. Those who do not mind the added studying should apply to graduate programs as soon as they finalize their bachelor’s degrees. Someone eager to start working, however, should avoid a master’s degree in animation, and they should rely on their undergraduate education to establish a lucrative, exciting and innovative career.