On the list of professionals who seldom receive public praise, compositing artists would rank toward the top. As one of the most important links in the visual production chain, their job is to finalize every project. Without their review, many animating, lighting, or designing errors would remain undetected. Regardless, the vast majority of the viewers know very little, if anything, about them.
Given that they make final edits, compositing artists have to be knowledgable about each area of the multimedia process. If they are revising an animation, per se, they might have to use programs like Autodesk Maya or Cinema 4D. Once they start making changes to the composition, however, they usually need to rely on Adobe After Effects or Blackmagic Fusion. In other words, compositing experts are normally the most versatile group of creators. So, does their earning potential justify the additional training that they must go through?
What Does a Compositing Artist Do?
Compositing artists are in charge of achieving a balance between all elements that go into the multimedia project. They must review characters, sceneries, transitions, movements and miscellaneous inputs for potential errors. Once they discover issues, which almost always exist, they must resolve them by coordinating with the original creators. While their technical abilities should be borderline perfect, they also need to lead, motivate and mentor others effectively. Thus, anticipating their median salary to exceed the median earnings of other digital creators is not a far-fetched expectation.
Earnings in the Current Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, multimedia artists’ median income for 2018 was $72,520. Although that salary does not explicitly mention compositing artists, it is a great frame of reference for the industry. As per the data comprised by Comparably, the earnings for compositing experts range from $84,564 to $126,846. Comparably, which is an award-winning company that specializes in compensation reviews, further finds that the upper 67 percent of these artists earn north of $126,000 per year.
Even with the aforementioned figures, predicting the exact median salary for a compositing artist is extremely challenging. This is mostly because there are many individual factors that, while often unbeknownst to others, determine the creator’s true value. Examples include the artists:
- Network and professional contacts
- Level of experience and career goals
- Geographical location and willingness to move
- Extracurricular specializations and training
Additionally, the state of the marketplace has a direct impact on median salaries. For instance, 2008 was a year when the disastrous economy led to a drop in median earnings for compositing experts because it coincided with the peak of a financial crisis.
Improving the Salary Outlook
In a country where the poverty line for a four-person household is at $25,750, as per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, compositing artists have the potential to reach financial freedom fast. Since the lowest point in their earning range, ($84,564) is more than three times higher than the said threshold, they seldom come close to the poverty line.
Notwithstanding, creators should do everything in their power to improve the salary outlook, and they should avoid taking the seemingly booming, job-packed market for granted. Even though artists who struggle to reach decent pay are few and far between, building professional leverage should remain a priority.
One of the easiest ways to enhance marketability, thus boosting the earning potential, is to complete advanced education programs. Since just about every compositing artist has a bachelor’s degree, graduate-level studies will help aspiring creators stand out. Not to mention the unparalleled upward mobility that will accompany the increase in starting pay. So, to answer the original question, it is fair to say that the earning potential justifies the extra training. After all, the median salary is a great testament to how gainful compositing artists’ careers can be.