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Animation Jobs in California

All of the largest and most successful animation studios have their headquarters in California, making this state a perfect destination for finding animation jobs. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is the top paying state for animation professionals, boasting the highest average salaries in the US.

The first prerequisite for starting a career in animation is technical expertise. Most animation jobs today are for computer animation. As a result, aspiring animators must be well-versed in industry standard software. Most major studios are using Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, and Adobe After Effects for the majority of their animation needs. Being an expert with all three of the above software packages, and knowing how they work together, will give you the best chances of finding a job in this field. Some begin their animation careers working for special effects companies. Others animate characters for feature films or TV shows. Others animate game characters for console and mobile games.

The top ranked schools in California with programs and degrees in animation are University of Southern California (USC, $49,464 per year, out-of-state), American Film Institute (AFI, $47,030 per year, out-of-state), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA, $51,990 per year, out-of-state), and California Institute of the Arts ($43,400 per year, out-of-state), according to rankings published by the Hollywood Reporter and Hack College in 2016.

The top states for finding jobs in animation tend to be California and New York, but of the two, California consistently has the highest supply of jobs and highest average wages.

According to Glassdoor, some of the highest-rated animation companies in California include Pixar Animation (Emeryville), Walt Disney Animation Studios (Burbank), 20th Century Fox Animation (Century City), Dreamworks Animation (Glendale), Sony Pictures Animation (Culver City), Lucasfilm Animation (San Francisco), and Warner Brothers Animation (Burbank).

In California, the most popular animation jobs are Java Programmers, CGI Animators, UX Designers, Environment Artists, CGI Modelers, and Graphic Designers.

Professionals working in animation in California also tend to work in the following industries, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Virtual Reality, Marketing, Advertising, Technology, Engineering, Corporate Videos/Presentations, Interactive Entertainment, Gaming.

The following are estimates of salaries and wages for animation jobs in California, which were compiled from Salary.com, Glassdoor, and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Art Director Assistants - $91,000 per year, or $43.75 per hour

Creative Directors - $133,000 per year, or $63.94 per hour

Art Directors - $121,000 per year, or $58.17 per hour

Multimedia Artists, Animators, and CGI Artists - $83,000 per year, or $39.90 per hour

Graphic Designers - $61,000 per year, or $29.33 per hour

Graphic Designers - $61,000 per year, or $29.33 per hour

Animators - $74,000 per year, or $35.58 per hour


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