Animators and other multimedia artists create digital images that may be used in graphic design, website designs, videos, movies, advertisements and more, which is why some people wonder what the median salary for an animator is. The median pay for an animator varies based on several factors, including the education, experience, location and type of work. Animators may work for themselves or work for a company. It is also important to take into account the value of benefits when comparing salaries. For example, paid vacations, personal leave, sick leave and health insurance have a high value and might make the difference between two close salary offers. Keep these factors in mind about the median salary for an animator in the United States.
Median and Salary Ranges for Animators
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for animators and other types of multimedia artists was $72,520 in May 2018. The lowest-paid 10 percent of animators earned an average of $40,870 per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent of animators earned a median salary of $124,310.
Median Pay By Industry
There are also some differences in animator salaries based on the industry or area of occupation. Animators who work for software publishers have the highest median salary of $82,360, according to the BLS. Those who work in the motion picture and video industries have the next-highest median salary of $77,860 per year. People who work as animators in the computer systems design and related services fields earn a median salary of $76,920. Those who are in the advertising, digital public relations and related media services have the lowest median salaries, averaging $67,330 per year.
Pay By Experience and Education
The more experience that an animator has, the higher the salary they command. An animator who has worked for several big-name firms or on well-known projects may be able to demand a higher salary when negotiating an independent contractor or a salary with an employer. Animators with advanced degrees in design, animation, computer science and related topics may also be able to earn a higher salary than the median for this occupation.
Location and Salary for Animators
Animator salaries may also vary by location. In general, most of the jobs for animators are in large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles and salaries tend to be higher in these large cities. Some additional job may be available at tech or media company headquarters in other large cities, including San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago and others. Animators who work for themselves will have more flexibility in where they live and do their work. However, they may need to travel to where their clients are located to discuss projects, design ideas and employment contracts.
Job Outlook and Its Relationship to Animator Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected job growth for animators and other multimedia artists will be eight percent between 2016 and 2026. The BLS predicts that most of that growth will be in graphics for video game development and special effects for television and movies. The BLS cautions that some of the animation jobs could be shipped overseas where salaries are lower when converted to the American dollar. This could decrease some of the anticipated job and salary growth for animators.
Anyone who wants to become an animator should plan to have some experience in video game design, website design and related technology. Having this type of experience and knowledge of a second or third language may come in handy for working on multinational or multilingual projects. Understanding what is the median salary for an animator allows a person to plan for their future and take steps that could increase their value when working independently or for an employer.