Animators bring drawings and computer generated characters to life on screen.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £36,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

What's it all about?

You'll work in animated films, TV, adverts, games, websites, or music videos, using hand-drawn, traditional, computer-generated imagery (CGI), stop-frame, stop-motion or model animation techniques.

Your day-to-day duties could include working with others like:

  • production designers to create the look
  • storyboard artists to take the script or ideas and show the story in a visual way
  • layout artists to draw how each shot will look
  • digital painters to touch up colours
  • texture artists to  'paint' colour and texture onto digital models to make them lifelike
  • compositors to join together different layers of animation
  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training providers


You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. The most useful courses include practical skills and work placements. Relevant courses include:

  • animation
  • art and design
  • computer games development
  • animation production
  • visual effects

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You could do a college course that will teach you some of the skills you'll need to get started as a junior animator. Courses include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media
  • Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course


You could take an advanced or higher apprenticeship in creative and digital media, or visual effects. This may help you to get a job as an animation assistant

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent qualifications, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship


You could start as an animation 'runner' and work your way up to:

  • digital painter
  • inbetweener
  • assistant animator
  • animator

Volunteering and experience

You may find it useful to do some related voluntary or paid work. You can contact broadcasting companies, advertising agencies, animation studios or computer games companies to find out about work experience opportunities.

Other information

You could take short courses in animation skills and software packages run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.

You'll need a showreel and portfolio to highlight your best animation work and ideas. Make your work easy to find, either on your own website or blog, or on a video-sharing website.

£14,000 to £36,000

Starter salary: £14,000 to £20,000

Experienced salary: £22,000 to £28,000

Freelance animators are usually paid a fee per project. Rates can vary based on experience and the type of production. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines.

You could get a bonus at the end of a project.

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You'll usually work 35 to 40 hours, Monday to Friday.

You'll be based in an office or studio. In stop-motion animation you may spend a lot of time on your feet adjusting models. In other types of animation, you would spend most of your time sitting at a computer or drawing board.

You could work from home if you're freelance.

With experience, you could progress from a junior role to animator, lead animator and animation director.

You could also work for larger animation studios, games developers, interactive media designers or video post-production firms.

You might decide to go freelance or start your own studio.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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