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Visual Effects Jobs in Los Angeles

Special effects are more pervasive than ever, being used in everything from big-budget blockbusters to car commercials. And as a result, visual effects artists, especially in a media capital such as Los Angeles, are in high demand. Although some visual effects jobs are going overseas, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics remains optimistic about the growth of visual effects jobs, claiming that the increased demand for CGI in the US, particularly in the gaming and mobile industries, will offset the offshoring of jobs.

According to Glassdoor, some of the highest-rated visual effects companies in Los Angeles include Warner Brothers Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Luma Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Legacy Interactive, 20th Century Fox Animation, and DreamWorks Animation.

The top ranked schools in Los Angeles with programs and degrees in visual effects 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.

In Los Angeles, the most popular visual effects jobs are Compositors, Color Gradists, Character Riggers, CGI Animators, Video Editors, CGI Modelers, and Graphic Designers.

The visual effects industry relies on complex software packages and high-powered computers to bring the impossible to the screen. A top priority for anyone looking to break into this field is to master the software packages required for their job. Certain software packages are used as industry standards among the major studios. For example, major studios use Autodesk Maya for the majority of their CGI modeling and animation, and then they'll use After Effects or Nuke for compositing, supplemented with Photoshop for image editing. After mastering the required software, the aspiring visual effects artist should assemble a portfolio reel, which displays projects they've worked on in the past, and the types of special effects they've worked with.

Some of the top cities for finding jobs in visual effects tend to be Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami. You could build a successful career in visual effects in any one of these cities. However, out of those cities, Los Angeles ranks first in terms of the total number of visual effects jobs available and the average level of salaries in the field. Among those cities, about 16% of all visual effects jobs are located in Los Angeles.

Professionals working in visual effects in Los Angeles also tend to work in the following industries, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Gaming, Marketing, Advertising, Virtual Reality, Architecture, Interactive Entertainment, Corporate Videos/Presentations, Engineering.

The following are estimates of salaries and wages for visual effects jobs in Los Angeles, which were compiled from, Glassdoor, and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Multimedia Artists, Animators, and CGI Artists - $86,000 per year, or $41.35 per hour

Graphic Designers - $56,000 per year, or $26.92 per hour

Editors - $112,000 per year, or $53.85 per hour

Art Director Assistants - $85,000 per year, or $40.87 per hour

Creative Directors - $124,000 per year, or $59.62 per hour

Animators - $73,000 per year, or $35.10 per hour

Graphic Designers - $56,000 per year, or $26.92 per hour

Art Directors - $126,000 per year, or $60.58 per hour

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