Ottawa is an excellent place to start a career in 2D animation. The city is home to globally recognized animation studios, a thriving animation scene—and best of all—strong demand for new talent.
The latest report from the Government of Canada Job Bank shows steady demand for 2D animators all across the province—with some regions earning a top score of 3/3 stars for job outlook in this field.
A.J. Cote, the creator of Herzing's 2D Animation Diploma in Ottawa, says local studios are forced to outsource jobs overseas because they can't fill vacant spots locally.
So, if you're considering an animation career in Ottawa, you're in the right place. Your next step is to find quality training that will get you a spot at one of those top studios.
As you compare diploma programs, use this checklist to narrow down the best candidates. These are 5 things every student should look for in a quality 2D animation program—and specific steps to follow when researching each school.
1. The 2D Animation Diploma Should be Developed by Local Experts
First and foremost, look for an animation program that was created by people who are actually successful in the industry. If you're going to compete for top jobs, you want training that focuses on the latest, most sought-after animation skills, where you live.
This means choosing a diploma that reflects the needs of local animation companies. And by extension, a program that was written by someone with many years of experience, in that local scene.
For example, Herzing's 2D Animation Program was created by A.J. Cote, who has 20 years of experience working with Ottawa animation studios (and all over the world).
A.J. has credits on numerous TV animation shows, and developed Herzing's program because he saw a very clear need for trained animators in Ottawa.
During a recent interview, A.J. said that one major Ottawa studio told him they wanted to hire 200 new animators, but couldn't find enough local talent.
This is what led to the creation of Herzing's animation program—and it's the kind of thing you should look for when comparing training options in your area.
2. Extensive Training on In-demand Animation Software
This point builds on the first one. If the animation diploma you choose was created by a local expert, chances are, it teaches the animation software local employers need you to know.
In Herzing's case, that software is Toon Boom Harmony. A.J. confirms that the vast majority of Ottawa animation jobs require proficiency in this software. The program he created is quite unique in the way it focuses on training in this area:
" No other program concentrates on using Toon Boom Harmony for what is called 'puppet animation.' That is exactly what Ottawa studios need. It is what 99% of all entry level jobs are in animation."
3. Connections to Local Animation Studios
No animation program would be complete without an internship. As a newcomer to the industry, you need this experience to gain confidence, add to your resume, and connect with a potential employer. Perform well, and you might even get hired, straight out of your internship.
Look for an animation college that has built positive relationships with local studios. Ottawa is a major hub for animation in Canada, and hosts several big players, such as Big Jump, Jam Filled, and Mercury Filmworks.
Make sure the program you choose can offer you internships at companies like these. This is the kickstart you'll need to launch your career. And it's what makes your investment in animation training worthwhile.
4. Targeted program you can complete quickly
Program length shouldn't be the only thing you consider when comparing your options—but for most students, it is definitely an important factor. If you're looking for an alternative to university animation programs, it's because you want a shorter and less expensive route to your first job.
So, you'll need to compare tuition, but also the number of months or years it takes to earn your college animation diploma. A good benchmark to aim for is 12 months of full-time study (about 20 hours per week).
An efficient, targeted program can provide the training you need to start your career in one year. If you can manage the commitment, this is an excellent way to optimize your tuition and time, and get into an animation job quickly.
5. Positive reputation and passionate instructors
Last, but not least, take some time to visit the animation schools you're considering, and look at each college's overall reputation for training and career development. Things to consider (and ask about) include:
- How many years has the college been operating?
- What do past animation students say about their experience in the program?
- What percentage of recent grads are now successfully working in animation?
- Can you sit in on an animation class?
Book a campus tour to check out the computer labs, and see if you can meet with the animation instructor. Passionate teachers are a key element of any training program, so it's worth taking the time to learn more.
Their enthusiasm and energy will rub off on you, and make learning a lot more fun. Plus, someone who is truly dedicated to the animation industry will expect high standards.
They will push you to work harder, and achieve more, than you thought possible. This is the kind of edge you want, as you head out to land your first job.
At the very least, reach out to people who have taken the program, and get their view on the instructor and classroom experience. Nothing beats an honest review from someone who's been there.
Next Steps: Is a 2D Animation Diploma Right for You?
Before you enrol in any program, take some time to meet with an Admissions Advisor. Make sure you understand the admission requirements for the animation programs you're considering, and the skills you'll need to succeed in training.
Discuss your career goals in the industry, and where you'd love to work after graduation. Ensure you understand where internships are held, and what to expect from your weekly class schedule.
Most of all, you'll want to find out whether this program truly fits your natural skills and professional goals. And whether the college itself feels like the right fit for you.
Chat live with a Herzing Admissions Advisor right now. Or click below to explore the 2D Animation program. We're here to help!