How Much Does Becoming an Animator Cost?

Costs main cover image
$ Public University: $4,000-$18,000 Per Year $ $ Private University: $30,000-$37,000+ Per Year

Animators are employed in various industries, including video games, websites, television, and movies.

The work is usually done by a computer program.

Typical Costs

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most animators have an art-related bachelor’s degree and qualities such as computer skills and artistic ability, creativity and ability to work with a team.

Getting a bachelor’s degree from a public university costs about $4,000-$18,000 annually, depending on the location and whether the student is an in- or out-of-state resident.

San Jose State University in California, for example, provides a degree in animation, which costs $6,828 annually for in-state tuition.

The tuition at private art schools usually costs $30,000-$37,694 annually.

These schools may offer more detailed and rigorous coursework than the one found at a public university.

The private school class sizes are often smaller than those at public schools, and so they can offer more one-on-one training with instructors.

CalArts, for example, offers a degree in either character animation or experimental animation for $37,000 annually.

The animators must typically put together a portfolio of their best work, created with the most prominent software programs, such as Smith Micro Software’s Poser Pro 2012 and Autodesk’s Maya, which cost about $500-$6,500.

The pricier software is more complex, as it has more features, tools and professional-quality images.

What Is Included

  • The animation is a very competitive field, and even if some people manage to break into the field of animation without a degree, pursuing a degree can lead to a much easier start in the career.
  • A great deal of the animated films today, including the popular Toy Story series, feature computer animation.
  • The animation is used widely in the video game industry for similar effects.
  • Websites further use animators to create moving advertisements and other online moving pictures.
  • The degree programs in animation include courses in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation.
  • Students usually learn to develop characters and to create storyboards, as well as models.
  • The auxiliary courses include graphic design, digital arts, and drawing.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approx. 66,000 animators work in the United States, and that number is expected to grow 8% from 2010 to 2020.

Additional Costs

  • Like with the other degrees, there are costs in addition to tuition.
  • The additional costs can reach $10,000 or more for an artistic degree such as animation.
  • The costs usually cover college fees, books, and materials.
  • The miscellaneous costs involved with creating an animation portfolio include compact discs and compact disc cases; where 50-packs of either cost about $10.
  • The creation of a physical portfolio with printed out or hand-drawn images to supplement their CD portfolio costs another $28-$165.


The federal government offers financial aid to qualifying college students.

At the same time, many private schools offer merit scholarships to qualifying students.

Shopping For Becoming An Animator

  • The most prominent website of the industry is Animation World Network, which features industry news, job postings, and forum discussions.
  • presents a list of questions to be asked before considering whether and where to attend an animation school.
  • Search for an animation school with accreditation, using the specialized accrediting association or a regional body, including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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