Top 8 Cities for Animator Careers

Animation careers are competitive. See which cities may offer the best potential for a job as an animator.

animator at his work stationAnimators play a powerful role in bringing movies, video games and websites to life.

A talented animator has the ability to create a world that will draw people in—and keep them immersed, and today, talented animators are in a higher demand than ever.

If you’re interested in an animation career, you might find yourself employed in one of many different workplaces, from advertising offices to game studios to software publishers.

But where in the world will you find these jobs?

For great salary opportunities and job openings, check out this list of the best U.S. cities for animation work.

New York, NY

If life in the Big Apple appeals to you, it’s a smart place to take your animation degree. New York City is home to the second largest film industry—and largest independent film scene—in the country. Combine this with the presence of the television and gaming industries, and the city boasts plenty of animation jobs.

It’s no secret that the cost of living in Manhattan can be daunting, but fortunately, the salary for an animator in New York City is nothing to sneeze at, and should leave you with a healthy amount of pocket money for enjoying all of the arts and entertainment opportunities the city has to offer.

Places where you may find work: Ace & Son Moving Picture Co., The Studio, Viacom, Buzzco Associates, Inc., Nickelodeon, LOOP Filmworks

Los Angeles, CA

Life in LA can be as surprising and diverse as the people who live there, and your experience might depend solely upon the neighborhood you live in. But if you think you can keep up with its fast-paced inhabitants, you’ll have a shot at working for some of the biggest names in animation.

If you’re lucky enough to earn a top spot with one of these companies, you’ll likely find yourself rubbing elbows with top-tier animators and producers. Combine this with an attractive salary, and Los Angeles makes for one of the country’s biggest animation meccas.

Places where you may find work: Disney, MGM, EA LA, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Hasbro, Dreamworks, PorchLight Entertainment, ABC Family/Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox Animation, Universal Cartoon Studios

Chicago, IL

Chicago is one of the biggest cultural hubs of the Midwest, with everything from galleries to a bevy of performance arts institutes. If you’re someone who draws a great deal of inspiration from the community around you, then Chicago will be a great place for you to animate.

If you’re tough enough, there’s plenty of room to work your way up in Chicago’s cut-throat business scene.

Places where you may find work: WB Games, the Warner Bros Entertainment Group, Tree House Studios, Digital Kitchen, Calabash animation, AGA Digital Studios

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco’s enduring reputation as a technological hub extends beyond its software developers and CEOs—it’s also home to talented animators who combine technology and art with world class animation. San Francisco is surrounded by animation opportunities, both in the city and directly outside of it.

Thanks to the flood of high-paying tech jobs in the area, animator salaries are equally competitive; the San Francisco-based animator earns one of the highest salaries in the country.

Places where you may find work: In-city, Lucasfilm, Dolby Laboratories and Industrial Light & Magic; nearby, Pixar, EA, DreamWorks, Capcom

Seattle, WA

Like San Francisco, Seattle has some great animation studios in the city as well as just outside of it.

Relatively lower costs (maybe not for long however) of living make for lower salaries than in the wildly expensive LA or San Francisco; Seattle animators earn salaries that are still higher than the national average for animator jobs.

Places where you may find work: The Nomadic Studio, Starfire Animation Studio and Straightface Studios; just outside of Seattle, you can find work at places like Bungie, Nintendo, Digital Kitchen, Lilipip Glu Mobile

Boston, MA

Boston is at the center of the massive animation production that takes place in the state of Massachusetts. For those who are inspired by culture and history, Boston makes for an ideal place to work in an artistic profession.

Salaries in Boston are competitive, but you may find tough competition when it comes to landing a job.

Places where you may find work: Skutnik Studios, Mass Animation, Global Mechanic, Musearts Inc, Powderkeg, Halfdeer VFX, Calli Productions

Austin, TX

Austin is the epicenter for a variety of burgeoning businesses and industries, one of those being animation. As proof of this, in 2012, Forbes named Austin the top city for job growth.

Austin studios seek animators who can work in high-tech roles. While these jobs generate is a little less income than some of the bigger cities, such as San Francisco or LA, it’s worth noting that the cost of living in Austin is much lower compared to these metropolises.

Places where you may find work: 3D Magic Factory, Hack Studios, Aphid Animation, Austin 3D Visuals, PELi Studio

Portland, OR

Portland is home to the vast majority of the state’s animation professionals, and they’ve seen a great deal of success in recent years. Many of Portland’s top studios are smaller, boutique operations, making it a great city for those who shy from the corporate lifestyle.

With the lower cost of living and lessened job competition, animation positions in Portland present some amazing opportunities.

Places where you may find work: Bent Image Lab, Fashionbuddha, DeepSky Studios, Happy Trails, Wallyhood, LAIKA

Now that you know where the hot spots are for animation careers, why not get started on earning the animation or visual effects degree that can help you get to work in one of these top cities?

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