Animators are some of the happiest workers in US: survey

Mumbai: AnimationMentor.com unveiled key findings from an animation industry survey that shows a vibrant and healthy workforce with a bright future. Animation Mentor commissioned independent research firm Knowledge Wave International to conduct the survey to gain insight into an insider’s view on industry trends, job titles, job satisfaction and salaries.

Behind the Characters: Professional Animator Job Satisfaction, Career Outlook and Salary Survey Report is based on the responses of more than 1,200 professional animators from over a dozen countries.

The survey explored job satisfaction and how happy animators are overall. Of those surveyed, 59 percent of professional animators enjoyed their work and are proud of the work they do. More than 80 percent plan to continue working in this field and more than half would recommend a career in animation to friends and family. These statistics put animators high on the list of highest occupations when compared to national averages found in the University of Chicago’s 2007 Job Satisfaction in America survey that identified clergy (67.2 percent) and firefighters (57.2 percent) the top professions where individuals classified themselves as very happy.

The salary outlook for animators is bright

In 2007, more than half of the animators surveyed (51 percent) made $40,000 or less, and 35 percent earned between $40,000 and $80,000 annually. In 2008, the outlook brightened in terms of total earnings with less than 30 percent earning less than $40,000, and the majority of respondents (51 percent) earning between $40,000 and $80,000. The survey results also showed a growth in the upper earnings ranges with 4 percent more expecting to earn more than they did in 2007, and 9 percent expecting to earn more than $100,000 versus 7 percent in that category in 2007.

According to the 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey, animators’ average salaries are higher than average US workers and there seems to be good potential for career growth and increased salaries with greater experience and larger projects. However, according to the Animation Mentor survey, most animators were more motivated by fun and creativity than by money.

The top ways the industry is changing

The survey also looked at the top trends professional animators are seeing and which have the potential to change the face of the job landscape. The top three trends include: the rise of motion capture; the trend toward outsourcing and cost-cutting; and that unbelievably fast advances in technology will impact the way animation is created.

Animators need more than great animation skills

When it comes to advice for new graduates of animation, more than 50 percent said creating a high quality demo reel is the main recommendation for anyone trying to land their first job.

Mentors are an essential part of a successful career

According to the survey, access to mentors rank in the top three requirements for a successful career in animation. In addition, creating and maintaining a professional network of more senior animators remains paramount: One in five animators say they have a mentor at work and mentoring is nearly as important for kick-starting a career as working in the industry and getting a formal education.

In the Job Satisfaction in America survey, most of the occupations ranking high in general happiness were professions involving helping others, creativity or technical and scientific expertise. Although the two surveys measured happiness and job satisfaction in different ways, there is a direct correlation between the level of fun, happiness and satisfaction and the amount of creativity people are allowed to express on the job.

"Most animators are following their passion in life so it’s not a big surprise that it’s one of the occupations where people are the happiest," said Animation Mentor chief executive officer and cofounder Bobby Beck.

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