When multimedia creators decide to become compositing artists, they are implicitly agreeing to the additional education and on-the-job training. Courtesy of the increased earnings and more job opportunities, most of them are indifferent to spending a few years in college and earning a bachelor’s degree. After all, the vast majority of visual creators have to meet this requirement anyway.
Where the problem comes in, however, is the area of graduate-level studies. Unlike bachelor degrees, compositing artists are not required to go through graduate studies. Except for highly specialized sub-fields, which have become extremely uncommon, these professionals are eligible to enter the workforce as soon as they complete undergraduate programs. Surprisingly, many of them prolong their education. So, is the market evolving to a point where artists who specialize in compositing need to include graduate programs into their education? Or are there other benefits that make spending another year or two in college worth it?
General Job Requirements
Animators are subject to traditional job requirements that are usually capped at an undergraduate diploma. When looking at the analysis conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is clear that the expected level of education for 71,600 active artists was a bachelor’s degree. If you are simply looking to build a strong foundation of knowledge that prepares you for your first job, going through a four-year program will suffice. In case you have the option to get a master’s degree, however, there are many reasons why you may want to pursue it.
Higher Earning Potential
According to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master’s degree pays considerably more than a bachelor’s. As per the average figures across all markets, weekly earnings for the two are $1,401 and $1,173, respectively. In other words, having a graduate degree will translate to an additional $228 per week. Over the life of a 30-year career, that figure will accumulate to a whopping total of $355,680. Although every compositing artist should beware of the generalizations that accompany the numbers, it is fair to expect that the earning potential will rise as the educational level increases.
More Freelancing Work
Besides traditional employments, many compositing artists pursue freelancing as a way to build their own business and supplement regular income. Since there are quite a few of them in a market where the job outlook growth is somewhat stagnant, the competition for freelance projects is fierce. By getting a master’s degree focused on animation or film composition, the likelihood of getting opportunities to work as an independent contractor increases. Just consider, for instance, how most employers go about outsourcing their projects. If they are looking for someone to resolve the final animation’s composition errors and see a never-ending list of applicants with a bachelor’s degree, candidates that have a master’s will probably take precedence.
Besides earning more and enjoying additional freelancing opportunities, a master’s degree will boost marketability and offer additional leverage. Both of these things allow job applicants to negotiate better non-cash benefits such as paid time off, healthcare plans, and upward mobility. Not to mention that they will be in a position to demand raises much more frequently. After all, one of the ways to leverage great marketability is to ask for a higher salary or go work for a company that is willing to pay more.
There Is No Better Time to Specialize
The final advantage of getting a master’s in compositing arts pertains to the timing of the studies. By immediately pursuing a graduate degree, students will carry over their learning habits that helped complete the bachelor’s program. Professionals who go back to school later on or attend classes while maintaining a full-time career seldom achieve such a superior level of focus. Thus, the odds of completing the specialization are the highest when someone starts their master’s studies immediately upon the completion of the undergraduate coursework.
Downsides of a Graduate Program
Insinuating that there are no downsides to getting a Master’s in Art Composition is misleading. As with every other professional trade-off, one must weight the advantages and disadvantages. If they identify a lot of upsides to going back to school, then they should pursue a graduate degree. As far as some of the more common issues go, the forthcoming two are the most popular ones for compositing artists.
Tuition and Fees
The price tag for every graduate degree in the scope of multimedia arts will be quite high. When combined with the fact that the student must forego the potential salary that they could earn immediately, the financial implications become extremely concerning. Students who decide to apply to private institutions or some of the best schools for animators should double the estimated costs. Fortunately, the right combination of financial aid and independent scholarships can help circumvent the added expenditures.
Postponing the Entry to the Workforce
Getting a master’s degree requires an average of one to two years of full-time attendance. While students sign up for part-time classes and use the remaining hours to build their careers, most employers are not going to be thrilled about part-time composition artists. Consequently, the best course of action is to either prioritize education or work. Choosing education means losing a year or two of valuable industry experience as well as a potential promotion. As stated earlier, though, earning losses for these two years will be recouped easily. The relationships and experiences that one might have had, on the other hand, cannot be made up.
Any creator who is struggling to make a decision should communicate with seasoned creators. Getting their input may skew one’s opinion enough to help them make a choice. Regardless, both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree will undoubtedly lead a compositing artist to a fruitful and exciting career.