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Multimedia artists are more often than not working primarily as animators.  There is also an area of website development that utilizes multiple forms of imagery; TV commercials also are using special effects and mixtures of video and still pictures.

The multimedia artist in an ad agency or movie production house might be called upon to draw storyboards for television commercials, movies, and animated features.  Storyboards then turn into snippets of multimedia product.  A multimedia expert works with creative teams that include writers, producers and marketing experts in many of the fields where sound and images are part of the product.

There are bachelors’ degrees available in interactive media design and in multimedia.  Both courses of study focus heavily on the computerized tools that are available today for the production of advanced video usage.  The curriculum for a multimedia degree will include audio; web site design; scripting; video and animation; and text. 

Perhaps as important is the training business and project management that goes with the degree.  Almost two thirds of the current crop of multimedia professionals at work in the U.S. today are self employed and work on a consulting basis.

The multimedia student will learn about the use of “video language” and the whole frustrating process of fusing artistic concepts with the available technology.  This course of study helps students to learn about the ‘art of the possible’ in multimedia and how to stay abreast of its ever-changing toolkit as new software emerges.

According to the Department of Labor, multimedia artists make an average salary of about $94,000.  Also according to government projections, competition for jobs will be relatively stiff as many artistic people are drawn to this new and rapidly changing field.

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Most academic programs for animation are degrees in graphic arts with a focus on animation.  These degrees are available at the associates’ level, a bachelors’ and a masters’ degree.  The industry segments that will need experts in animation will be advertising, computer games and web design, along with the few film production companies that make it a specialty.

In all cases, employers expect new graphic designers to be familiar with computer graphics and design software. Graphic designers must continually keep up to date with the development of new and updated software, usually either on their own or through software training programs.  Animation has come a long way from the hand-drawn cels that the old Disney cartoonists used.  Computer software provides the tools for animation and it is growing quickly in sophistication.

The newly graduated animation professional can expect to spend a couple of years in an apprentice role, learning the workings of the animation department in whatever profession he/she has entered.  There is a strict hierarchy of personnel in game development along with titles for those positions.  The application of computer-generated animation skills for computer games is probably the most creative in the field.

Animators with a good grasp of current software and a bachelors’ degree in graphic design should be able to break into the field at about $65,000.  There may be a year or two below that figure if the job requires specialized training and experience.  But there is no question that game development and web design are going to continue to grow.  Web sites in particular are going to have increased levels of animation as broadband penetrates more homes.

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Salaries with Multimedia and Animation Degrees

Average annual earnings with Multimedia and Animation Degrees in May 2004.

  • Lowest 10 % earned $36,260
  • Median $60,600
  • Highest 10% earned $95,040

Related occupations with Multimedia and Animation Degrees:

  • Wired telecommunications carriers $65,130
  • Insurance carriers 64,660
  • Management of companies and enterprises 64,170
  • Computer systems design and related services 63,910
  • Local government 52,30