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Visual Effects Jobs in San Francisco

With strong growth in television and film production, an assortment of design production houses, and major technology-media giants closeby, San Francisco remains one of the best cities in the US to find visual effects jobs. Pixar and Lucasfilm remain some of the biggest employers for visual effects artists in the region. The city is also home to numerous advertising agencies and boutique design firms, which recruit visual effects artists for ad campaigns and corporate videos.

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, San Francisco ranks third in terms of the total number of visual effects jobs available and the average level of salaries in the field. Among those cities, about 15% of all visual effects jobs are located in San Francisco.

Although the visual effects industry is competitive, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positive growth for this industry over the next decade, as all forms of media increasingly rely on CGI imagery for their productions. If you're looking to break into this industry, your first job is to learn all the required software for your job. Each specialty in visual effects uses its own set of software. For example, most compositors in Hollywood rely on Nuke or After Effects for the majority of their compositing work. CGI modelers and animators rely on Autodesk Maya or Cinema 4D. After mastering the required software, aspiring visual effects artists should then assemble a reel. This reel shows the range of their skills as an artist and past projects they've worked on. Many professionals work on independent projects to gain footage for their reels before moving on to the big visual effects studios.

According to Glassdoor, some of the highest-rated visual effects companies in San Francisco include Pixar Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, and Rapid Eye Digital.

In San Francisco, the most popular visual effects jobs are Video Editors, CGI Animators, Graphic Designers, Color Gradists, UX Designers, CGI Modelers, and Character Riggers.

The top ranked schools in San Francisco with programs and degrees in visual effects are Stanford University ($44,169 per year, out-of-state), San Francisco State University ($18,372 per year, out-of-state)and Academy of Art University ($20,040 per year, out-of-state), according to rankings published by the Hollywood Reporter and Hack College in 2016.

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

Multimedia Artists, Animators, and CGI Artists - $89,000 per year, or $42.79 per hour

Graphic Designers - $67,000 per year, or $32.21 per hour

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

Art Director Assistants - $97,000 per year, or $46.63 per hour

Creative Directors - $141,000 per year, or $67.79 per hour

Animators - $75,000 per year, or $36.06 per hour

Graphic Designers - $67,000 per year, or $32.21 per hour

Art Directors - $134,000 per year, or $64.42 per hour

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

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