Anyone interested in pursuing a career as a forensic animator should be prepared to get the education they need to both develop skills and increase their marketability in a competitive job market. While all animators must have a passion for the field and an inherent ability to produce graphics and imagery, forensic animators play a crucial role in the justice system and can assist th prosecution of defense teams by recreating crime scenes or producing other key evidence needed in criminal investigations. Because of the sheer weight of the value of animators’ testimony and output, education in the field of forensics and animation extremely important.
In taking a survey of the animators who currently work in all specialty areas, it is common for entry-level professionals to enter the field of animation with a bachelor’s degree, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is promising for bachelor’s students who want to work in the media arts, but not for all specialized areas.
A four year degree may be enough to secure the average multimedia artist a good starting position at a video gaming company or a software publisher, but animators who have the goal to work in forensics and areas of criminal justice will need both more education and more experience in specialized areas the average artist will not have experience in.
Assessing Average Salary Ranges in Multimedia Arts
College students cannot always just consider their passion when planning what they will major in or whether or not they will earn a graduate degree. In addition to considering passion, with the rising cost of tuition and textbooks, adult college students must assess the cost of earning a degree and compare it to the average reported salaries to see if they will ever be able to climb out of college debt with earning potentials.
Considering the average national salaries reported by all animators and multimedia artists, in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, it is reported that the average animator earns $72,520 without considering the industry or the setting they work in. This is significantly higher than the average reported for all occupations, which comes in at just over $38,000 nationwide. Salaries range from the top 10 percentile, who earn $124,310 per year, to the lower wage earners, who earn less than $41,000.
How Much Does a Four-Year College Degree Cost?
It is extremely difficult to bargain shop college degree programs majoring in animation. The cost of a college degree can vary so dramatically based on geographic region, accreditation, size of the program, size of the classes, reputation, staff experience, and school amenities. While tuition varies from school to school in private and public settings, it is possible to pinpoint how much you can expect to pay or finance by doing research.
The way to assess the cost of tuition versus how much you will potentially earn is to look at the average salaries reported by agencies like the National Center for Education Statistics. According to the national data compiled by the NCES, the average cost of a four-year degree at all universities is on the rise coming in at $40,925 for undergrad students.
How Much More Will Two Years Cost?
A large consideration for undergraduate students and current professionals who are thinking about advancing their education is just how expensive earning a graduate degree can be. A much larger percentage of college students attend school with the funding from a scholarship as an undergrad than they do as a graduate student. Since more graduate students are paying out of pocket, the average tuition is even more important as you research grad school tuition and fees.
According to data compiled by non-profit agency The Hechinger Report, in terms of student debt, the average graduate student owes about three times more than the average undergraduate student. The main reason that graduate students owe more is that they receive fewer grants and scholarships and tuition fees are on the rise so that graduate schools can turn a profit.
The Hechinger Report also shows that the number of graduate students who take out loans is up from 47 to 60 percent as the cost of tuition climbs. According to the tuition ranges that were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students will spend two years on a full-time basis and an average of $16,435 per year for tuition alone. Opportunity costs in terms of career and the cost of spending more than 40 hours per week on coursework should also be considered when assessing if a Master’s in Forensic Animation is the right choice.
Is a Master’s Degree a Must?
Not all forensic animators are required to possess a master’s degree, but having a bachelor’s is not always enough in a competitive job market. Anyone who wants to work for a law enforcement agency or a federal agency should consider spending the additional two years in school to meet stricter educational employment requirements. Based on all of the salary data reported that is specific to forensic animators nationwide, Paysa has published the national average salary for this specialized role is $95,403 per year.
With a master’s degree, forensic animators will develop all of the specialized skills they need to recreate crime scenes while using key principles in forensic science and animation. Accredited graduate programs in the field will teach students advanced curriculum in 3D modeling, computer animation, modeling, forensic science and physics, criminal justice, and programming. Having a strong background in math and also various subject areas like physics will be crucial for graduate animation students. Be sure to compare the cost of becoming a grad before you decide which route you want to take to become a forensic animator.