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Animation Jobs in Chicago

Chicago's animation industry revolves around four major industries: film, television, advertising, and technology. While the city attracts a considerable amount of film and television production crews, during off-season, animators in Chicago will tend to find work for advertising or technology firms. Successful Chicago animators tend to have a versatile skillset, as they can be employed to work on everything from the special effects on a film, to the design of game characters, to the advertising campaign for a technology start-up.

Some of the top cities for finding jobs in animation tend to be Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami. You could build a successful career in animation in any one of these cities. However, out of those cities, Chicago ranks fourth in terms of the total number of animation jobs available and the average level of salaries in the field. Among those cities, about 5% of all animation jobs are located in Chicago.

In Chicago, the most popular animation jobs are UX Designers, Environment Artists, Java Programmers, Character Riggers, CGI Animators, and Graphic Designers.

According to Glassdoor, some of the highest-rated animation companies in Chicago include 3to1 Studios, Daily Planet Productions, Calabash Animation, Bigfoot Production, Animagic Studio, and Digital Kitchen.

The top ranked schools in Chicago with programs and degrees in animation are Columbia College Chicago ($41,850 per year, out-of-state), Northwestern University ($48,624 per year, out-of-state), and University of Chicago ($50,997 per year, out-of-state), according to rankings published by the Hollywood Reporter and Hack College in 2016.

Entry-level animation artists rely on computers to bring their ideas to the screen. Animation software usually has a steep learning curve, so it is imperative that entry-level animators take the time to master the software required by their work. Maya, Adobe After Effects, and Photoshop are some of the most widely used animation software among the Hollywood studios. Once the necessary software is learned, entry-level animators are expected to have a portfolio of work to show employers, which displays the range of their skillsets and past projects they've worked on.

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

Art Director Assistants - 82,000 per year, or $39.42 per hour

Creative Directors - $119,000 per year, or $57.21 per hour

Art Directors - $94,000 per year, or $45.19 per hour

Multimedia Artists, Animators, and CGI Artists - $69,000 per year, or $33.17 per hour

Graphic Designers - $50,000 per year, or $24.04 per hour

Graphic Designers - $50,000 per year, or $24.04 per hour

Animators - $78,000 per year, or $37.50 per hour

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

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