Movie Animator Salary

Learn what your earning potential is once you become a movie or video game animator.

How Much Does an Animator Earn?

Salary can be an important issue to consider as you're thinking about your future career as a movie or video game animator. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint your exact earning potential. There are many factors that influence animation salaries. Here are just a few things that may play a role in determining your movie animator salary:

  • The kind of company you work for
  • How much experience you have
  • Your education level
  • Where you live
  • Whether you work on a contract or full-time/permanent basis

What to Expect

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, what you earn as an animator depends upon where you work. The good news? Movie animators are at the top of the salary chart when it comes to earnings. Here are median annual salaries for animators by industry:

IndustryMedian Annual Salary
Motion picture and video industry $72,680
Game and software publishing $62,310
Advertising and public relations $60,220
Computer systems design $58,950

What to Consider

  • Do you want to work in a large or small studio? Animator salaries will vary largely by the size of studio in which you're employed. For example, an animator at DreamWorks Animation earned an average salary of $101,478, while animators at Rainmaker Entertainment, a small (mostly television animation) studio in Canada, earned $42,310 on average annually.
  • You may need to join The Animation Guild to work in a big studio such as Disney, Pixar or Sony.

Salaries by Job Type

The Animation Guild (TAG) publishes a wage survey by type of animator job. Here is 2013 median weekly salary info for different careers within the movie and television animation industries:

Animation JobMedian Weekly Salary
Story artists $2,200
Background painters $1,900
Modelers $1,900
3D animators $2,100
Effects animators $2,088
Lead lighters $2,282

Ready to Start Your Animator Career?

The first step toward earning a movie animator salary is to get your education. Animation schools will help you learn the skill you'll need for a long and successful career as a movie animator.