How to Become a Lead Animator?

Are you thinking of becoming a Lead Animator or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Lead Animator, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Lead Animator job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
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Steps to Become an Animator

Animators create visual works for television shows, movies, social media networks, and other forms of media. While formal training is necessary, animators possess skills that you can't learn in the classroom. Successful animators excel at creative problem-solving, time management, and organization. Animators typically have to meet tight deadlines and be prepared for any changes to a project that an employer or client might request. If you can accept feedback with professionalism and adapt to all sorts of workplace situations, you're ready to take the following steps:

Pursue a bachelor's degree in animation.

Pursuing a bachelor's Degree in animation will help you hone your artistic skills and learn about the standard techniques and technology in the industry. Foundational coursework includes art, drawing, and multimedia classes. Many bachelor's degree programs allow you to concentrate on a specialty such as website animation, film animation, or gaming animation in your junior and senior years. While most employers only expect animator candidates to hold a bachelor's degree, completing a master's degree will qualify you for managerial and teaching positions.


Participate in animation competitions.

While you're completing your degree, you'll have the opportunity to participate in school-sponsored and corporate-sponsored animation competitions. Entering an animation competition is an excellent way to get feedback on your work from industry professionals and attract the attention of potential employers. Plus, you can add your competition piece to your portfolio.


Apply for animator internships.

Potential employers will expect you to have some practical experience in the animation field. An animator internship will give you that experience and allow you to grow your professional network. Animation interns typically provide whatever support senior animators need while getting hands-on experience in using tools and technology necessary to the industry. If you've completed your bachelor's degree, you may qualify for an apprenticeship, which is typically a paid position and is more likely to become a permanent position with the company. If you do accept an apprenticeship, prepare to commit to it for at least nine months.


Apply for a job as an entry-level animator.

After completing your degree and gaining experience as an intern, it's time to start applying for animator jobs. Typically, first-time hires start in assistant positions, so don't get discouraged if you don't land your dream job right away. An entry-level position will give you time to hone your skills, build your portfolio, and acclimate to a studio environment.


Join the Animation Guild.

Animation is a constantly evolving field, so it's vital to continually develop your skills. Joining a professional organization, such as the Animation Guild, will give you access to educational resources and entry to seminars and workshops. As you continue to learn new animation concepts, be sure to add them to your portfolio. Keeping your portfolio up-to-date is essential to advancing your career.

Lead Animator Career Path

Lead Animator

5 - 7Years of Experience
$69K - $111K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Lead Animator

No Years of Experience Reports
$118K - $191K /yrMost Likely Range
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Director of Animation

8+Years of Experience
$64K - $106K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Lead Animator Career Path

Junior Animator
Freelance Animator
Animation Manager
Animator Supervisor
Lead Animator
Senior Lead Animator
Director of Animation
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Related Careers in the Arts & Design Industry

Interested in other Arts & Design careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Lead Animator skills. Discover some of the most common Lead Animator career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Concept Artist
0% skills overlap
12% transitioned to Concept Artist