Updated December 2022
You probably already know what an animation career is all about: bringing characters and stories to life in films, TV shows, video games, and more.
But do you know what life on the job is really like?
No job is perfect. Before you embark on an animation career, you need to have a full understanding of what to expect—both the good and the bad.
In this post, we take you through the pros and cons of becoming an animator and provide valuable advice from industry insiders.
Get a realistic picture of the role and see if it's a good choice for you.
PRO: ENORMOUS DEMAND FOR ANIMATORS IN OTTAWA
One of the biggest advantages of pursuing an animation career is that demand in the field has really skyrocketed. That's especially true since the pandemic forced the shutdown of live-action productions.
Ottawa animator A.J. Cote has worked in the industry for 20 years, and has seen this trend play out. He developed Herzing's 2D animation training specifically to meet the needs of local studios, who he says are desperate for skilled talent.
"Studios are turning down work or sending it overseas because there are not enough trained animators here.
People don't realize that Ottawa is a major centre for animation in Canada. Students don't know how many opportunities there are, so they're moving elsewhere and choosing different career paths.
One studio quoted they could hire 200 animation graduates if we had them.
We recently had an entire graduating class of 2D animation students get hired at a single studio in Ottawa!"
CON: PRESSURE TO MEET DEADLINES
Animation work can ebb and flow, but this is not always a 9-to-5 kind of job.
The pressure to deliver high-quality results in a very short time can be intense. You may have to put in long hours to meet tight production deadlines.
But if you can learn to organize your time and stick to a schedule, the workload becomes much more manageable.
PRO: ANIMATION TRAINING CAN BE really QUICK
You don't have to spend years in university to launch an animation career. You can develop the skills you need through a college diploma program, which generally takes two years or less.
For instance, the accelerated animation course at Herzing College takes just 12 months to complete. The course also includes a 6-week internship at Big Jump Entertainment, where students get to work on current productions and learn from the pros.
Big Jump even offers jobs to students who do well in Herzing's program. Like many Ottawa animation companies, they're always looking for new talent.
So in only one year, you could potentially go from a complete beginner to a working professional animator.
CON: ANIMATION WORK CAN BE repetitive
Animation work is time-consuming and super precise. It can take days or even weeks to animate a single minute of action. You will spend many hours staring intently at a screen while assessing motions that take a fraction of a second.
Megan Winters was part of the Herzing class of 2020 that got hired by Big Jump. She says it takes a certain skillset to do this work well.
"Animation is so detail-focused, you really need that eye for detail and patience.
You need good problem-solving skills, and the ability to take your time and work through things until you get it right. It's not a good fit for everyone."
PRO: SOLID EARNING POTENTIAL
You can make a healthy income in an animation career.
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, animation artists in Ottawa earn a median salary of about $52,000.
As you gain experience and advance in the field, your earnings can rise significantly. The Job Bank says the highest-earning animators in Ottawa make more than $81,000.
CON: YOU WON'T ALWAYS BE CREATIVELY FULFILLED
You have to remember that animators are typically paid to carry out other people's creative visions. In most cases, you'll answer to a team lead, director, or client. While you may have some freedom to come up with a creative spin on a character or scene, in the end it's someone else's concept that matters.
And not every project will be interesting or exciting to you. You may have to work on stuff you find boring, but you'll still have to execute it to the best of your ability.
Of course, you can always work on your passion projects in your spare time. That's a great way to boost your skills and expand your career opportunities.
PRO: WIDE VARIETY OF ANIMATION CAREER OPTIONS
An animation career can take many forms. You can work in areas like:
☑️ Character design
Ottawa is packed with opportunities for new animators. A.J. told us there are a variety of studios doing different kinds of work.
"You have studios like Mercury Filmworks who do a lot of Disney cartoons. You also have studios like Jam Filled who do some really cool projects for Nickelodeon, as well as some super crazy fun cartoons as well.
Then there is Big Jump Entertainment, a great studio that has done some really cool prime time shows like F is for Family for Netflix, and Camp WWE for Stoopid Buddies.
I could seriously go on forever about the opportunities for animators here in Ottawa."
DOES AN ANIMATION CAREER APPEAL TO YOU?
If you think the pros outweigh the cons, your next step is to get some quality training.
The unique 2D animation program at Herzing College Ottawa takes only 12 months, including a six-week internship at Big Jump.
The program is designed to teach the software and other skills local studios look for, so students are fully prepared to dive straight into work after graduation.
Still have questions? An admissions advisor can answer any questions you have and help you figure out if the training is right for you.
Click below to explore the program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!