When we hear the word animation, most of us think of cartoons on Saturday morning, Disney films and perhaps video games, and we’re not wrong, but animation is so much more than that.
Many people who aspire to work in animation want to become a character animator. They dream of creating a popular character in the next big Disney film, or creating a character for a nickelodeon show.
The reality is, only a small percentage of animators, about 10% are working as character actors.
The majority of animators are working as background artists, creating graphics for companies and advertising, and some even work for forensics creating diagrams and detailed representations for crimes.
The point being, there is a much wider world out there than drawing the next big cartoon, so if animation is a field that interests you, take the time to invest in all available opportunities.
Resume objective for animators
Your objective is going to be based on the type of animation experience you have and the specific animation job you are seeking.
After reading through several resume examples, we noticed that many individuals also mentioned the different types of graphic and animation software they have experience with.
Some animation studios suggest you include links to your reel or portfolio in your objective. Bloop offers a detailed explanation on how to create a demo reel for inclusion on your resume.
Animator with 10 years experience in 2D and 3D animation and graphics, seeks a position on a team of artists where they can further their skills. Experience with multiple animation software programs and in VFX Compositing and Motion Graphics.
Resume skills for animator
It probably goes without saying that to be an animator you need to have skills in the art arena, but it goes much beyond pencil and paper.
Today’s animators need to be versed in a variety of traditional art skills as well as computer animation programs and graphic design software. In your skill section, you should list the various programs you are proficient in.
Rasmussen College goes into detail on skills today’s animators need and highlights emotive communication; the ability to evoke the desired emotion from your audience through your work.
To be able to accomplish that, comes skills we found mentioned in several of our other sources such as creativity, attention to detail, organization, self-motivation, spatial reasoning, color theory and analytical skills.
Seems like a lot, but when you put all those pieces together, you have an individual who is able to tell an entire story through a piece of animated art.
Adobe InDesign | Adobe Illustrator | Adobe Acrobat | Interaction design | Motion graphics | Color Theory | Self-motivated | Strong Organizational skills | Attention to detail
Animator work experience
Animation can be one of those Catch-22 careers in which to get a job you need to have experience already. Several of our resources, including Study.com, suggest looking for internships or freelance opportunities.
Another possibility is to enter your work into competitions, as it is suggested by Stormy Studio. If your work is good enough to win a prize or acknowledgement from peers, then employers may start paying attention.
The more work you create, the larger and more diverse your portfolio will be, giving you the potential to dazzle future employers with all your skills.
This, like many careers in the arts, is one where you most likely are going to have to start at the bottom with little to no pay at times and climb your way up.
The good news is, there is a LOT of work out there, especially if you are willing to try the freelance route for a bit.
When listing freelance work, go ahead and name drop, as long as you have not signed a non-disclosure act, or simply list the time you spent as a freelance artist and the types of projects you completed.
Sample Work Experience
Worked in a fast-paced and collaborative work environment creating graphics and illustrations for professional development technology. Used Adobe Suite and After Effects and strong background in illustration to create one of a kind designs for clients.
- Experienced in character and landscaping drawing
- Ability to problem solve and make decisions under pressure
- Excellent customer service skills
- Superb hand and digital drawing skills
Art Illustrator/Cartoonist, 2010-2016
Used Creative Cloud suite and other digital design tools to create mockups for promotional products and digital designs. Applied my understanding of vector, taster, spot color and CMYK image formats to design brilliantly colored designs.
- Experience in screen printing and digital drawing
- Able to work under tight deadlines and under pressure
- Completed work within client budget and requested time lines
- Strong illustration and cartooning skills
Graphic Design and 3D animator, 2005-2010
Completed graphics and animation for a variety of businesses on request. Created ads and graphics based on customer information within the desired time-frame. Worked with each client to ensure the piece met their standards and made changes as needed.
- Excellent attention to detail and time management
- Corresponded with customers throughout the design process, providing drafts and mock-up options to ensure that jobs were produced and delivered as specified
- Skilled in various graphic design software including Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop and Illustrator
- Adapted customer requests into customized products
Animation is one of those careers where education isn’t always everything. In fact some design studios we read tips from said that they don’t even care if you have a degree or not, what they want to see is your talent.
That being said, one way to hone talent, is to get an education. So if you feel a degree is in your future, or you have one in your past, it is definitely not going to hurt your job search efforts.
There are many institutions that offer degrees in animation, illustration, graphic design, computer animation, media design and the list could go on. For a look at a full list of schools and degrees, check out Game Designing.
They offer advice as well as an explanation on their top choices.
If a degree is not a possibility for you due to time, money or both, there are many places that offer courses to help you define your art voice.
California Institute of the Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Character Animation, 2000 – 2004
- 2003 Showcase selected work “Maybe the Tree”
- 2004 Showcase selected work “Elevator”
In lieu of a two or four year degree an animator may seek out a certification. Certifications have the benefit of being less costly and less time consuming.
If you already have a degree in animation or a related field, experts suggest that a certification is not necessary as it will supply mostly superfluous information.
However, if a degree is not an option or interest for you, seeking a certification or two is definitely recommended. Employers are looking for candidates that have the skills needed to complete the job.
If you can accomplish that via certifications then by all means take that route. Certifications could be especially useful for mid-career individuals who have already obtained a 4 year or advanced degree and are looking to make a switch.
Being certified on certain devices may also have advantages. Apple offers an online program to become an Apple Certified Trainer, meaning you can then train others on a variety of Apple devices.
Larger companies that do a lot of training or smaller companies who do not have the means to outsource training may see a certification in that realm as beneficial.
- Certified Web Animator Associate
- Adobe Edge Animate CC
Complete animator resume sample
Now that we have spent some time covering the logistics of what goes into creating an animator resume, we are going to take a look at a real job posting.
After the job posting is a complete sample resume to give you the full picture!
This particular job post puts a lot of emphasis on character drawing and development. They are also looking for someone with at least 3+ years of experience.
The good news is experience, when it comes to the field of animation, can come from a lot of different avenues.
They also list a particular animation program they are seeking experience with, however, those types of criteria are usually not deal breakers, especially if you have adequate experience with other programs.
Character and graphic animator with 5+ years experience looking for a challenging and dynamic new position. Solid understanding of human kinetics and experience in character development.
Max Animation | Adobe Creative Suite | Photoshop | Character Animation | 3D graphics | Self-motivated | Work under pressure | Prop model creation
Motion Graphics Animator, 2017-2020
Created logo work, animated titles and graphics for marketing campaigns, advertisements and TV commercials. Worked closely with the marketing team to create a unified vision.
- Completed projects on time and within budget
- Strong 2D design skills
- Strong 3D design skills
- Worked as part of a team of animators
Freelance Animator & GFX Artist, 2010-2017
Collaborated with team memes and clients to create custom graphics, special effects, animation and other images for client videos. Expert knowledge of After Effects, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
- Proficient with Camtasia
- Experience with layout, color, grids, icons and motion media
- Ability to take constructive criticism and apply it to designs
- Excellent communication and time management skills
3D Animator in Video Game Design, 2006-2010
Worked on a team of artists to create lifelike heroes, villains and creatures for video games. Used strong technical and design skills to portray character emotions and actions to create a phenomenal gaming experience.
- Ability to create lifelike characters
- Worked on animation team to achieve top results
- Ability to create prop models and sketches
- Strong attention to detail and creativity
Full Sail University
Bachelor of Arts Computer Animation, 2003-2006
- Concentration: Character Modelling
Animation is a much broader field than most people realize. The logo that flashes on your favorite YouTube ad and the funny cartoon in the latest medication commercial were created by animators.
Hundreds of hours of work can go into creating a short animated film and artists often pour a lot of heart and soul into everything they create.
While digital art is quickly taking the lead on the majority of art produced, there is still a strong value placed on traditional drawing skills.
- Be prepared to NOT be a character artist, at least at first
- Freelancing and low paid work is a great way to build your portfolio
- Education is a plus, but skills will get your farther
Tips from Experts
“I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” – Walt Disney, Animator, Founder of Disneyland
“I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends’ films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.” – Pete Docter, Pixar Animator
“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.” – Norman McLaren, Animator
Many animators are drawn to the field due to a love of drawing, they were inspired by the first cartoon movie they ever watched, or they have a love for digital technology and art.
Whatever your reason may be for becoming an animator, we hope this article and examples provide you with the tips and support you need to land your dream role.