Animators create and design characters using animation software, 3D modelling, 2D animations, and even puppetry. They develop characters that use movement to tell a story, whether it's for film, television, video games or mobile applications.   

Animators create then manipulate animated characters to interact in digital environments by using computer software such as MotionBuilder 3D, Flash Professional, LightWave, Maya and other programmes. They also draw storyboards, create models, and design environments. 

Animators work in film and video production studios, advertising agencies, public relations firms, software publishers, computer systems design firms, graphic design firms, game design firms, web design firms, and at colleges and universities.

(Source: Animation Career Review 2015)


What industry specific and transferable skills are Animation companies typically looking for when they recruit graduates? Beyond the technical skills needed for a specific role, companies look for employees who are able to demonstrate a range of key skills such as: 

  • Able to demonstrate creativity and imagination
  • Excellent drawing skills
  • Computer literacy and familiarity with graphics software
  • Demonstrate a logical approach to problem-solving
  • Work as part of a team and/or project manage
  • An ability to be flexible and adaptable
  • Able to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Demonstrate patience and attention to detail
  • A willingness to keep up with industry developments and learn new skills
  • Communication – an ability to articulate ideas and information comprehensibly in visual, oral and written forms
  • Generate ideas, concepts, proposals, solutions or arguments independently and collaboratively in response to set briefs and self-initiated activity
  • Employ materials, media, techniques, methods, technologies and tools with skill and imagination whilst observing good working practices

Many of these skills you will have developed whilst studying at university. Take the time to look through the list and try to think of an occasion when you have demonstrated these skills. Try to identify your weaknesses and consider how you might improve your profile.

Using the STAR structure will help you to reflect upon, identify and provide evidence for the whole range of skills you will have developed throughout your time at university, including work experiences such as internships, placements and voluntary or paid part-time work. 

Key Facts about the Animation/VFX Industry

  • In 2012 UK animation companies employed a workforce of approximately 4,600.This is an increase of 53% since 2004.  
  • The majority of the animation workforce is based in London (56%), followed by the South West of England (18%) and Wales (11%). Since 2009 there has been a 20% increase in the number of people working in London, which is the result of many important projects in the VFX/animation industries being London based.  
  • The majority of roles within the industry are animation (18%), production (16%), business management (16%), strategic management (13%) and art and design (10%). 
  • 38% of those employed in the industry are freelance or self-employed.
  • 57% of businesses employ less than 10 people, 8% employ over 50 people.
  • 92% of people working in animation are graduates and 48% of these hold postgraduate qualifications.
  • Women in animation represent 40% of the total workforce compared to 36% within the creative media industries. The proportion has increased by 22% since 2009. 
  • The proportion of the workforce from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background represents 3.5% of the total workforce.

(Creative Skillset 2012)

Career Options

The animation industry stretches across many of the creative industries. Animated content can be found on television, in feature films, commercials, websites and computer or video games. It can be generally divided into: 2D drawn or traditional; 2D computer generated; stop frame; and 3D computer generated. There are a wide range of opportunities in animation e.g. freelance, contract work, and more permanent jobs. These can be found at small production companies, larger studios, computer generated post production facility houses and at computer games developers or interactive media designers

(Source: National Careers 2013)

Jobs in the industry are divided under four animation disciplines:

  • Development including Director, Producer
  • Pre-production including Art Director, Character Designer, Production Designer, Layout Artist, Storyboard Assistant, Prop Designer
  • Production including Animator, Animation Director, Inbetweener, Runner, Model Maker/Puppet Maker, Camera Assistant, Effects (FX) Supervisor
  • Post-production including Checker, Compositor, Editor, Special Effects Animator, CG Compositor (FX), Key Compositor

In terms of development, versatility is the key and if you can work with puppets, models and drawn and computer-generated animation, you may find more options open to you. Another progression route for animators is to go into teaching or lecturing

(Source: Prospects 2013)

Last modified: 
Monday, February 22, 2016 - 12:05