Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for animator

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would create detailed drawings, models or 3D computer images to bring characters, stories and ideas to life on screen in animated films, games and cartoons.

You'd use your imagination and acting skills to get personality and character into the animation. You might work on films like Toy Story, a television cartoon like The Simpsons, an advert, a computer game or a music video.

The most common method of animation is to create 3D computer generated imagery (CGI).

In stop frame animation you'd make puppets and photograph them as you change the puppets' positions over and over again. One second of film needs up to 25 photographs.

You would:

  • Read the storyboard for the animation
  • Plan and design the frames (pictures) which tell the story
  • Draw background and characters using a range of materials, such as pencil, ink or paint
  • Use digital equipment to copy the artwork hundreds of times with tiny changes in position
  • Work with an editor to add dialogue or a soundtrack
  • Make sure the action or characters' speech and movements follow the audio or soundtrack

On large or long-running productions, you could be part of a team working on one stage of production for several weeks, months or even years.

If it's a small project, you could be involved in many of the processes, from developing concepts to editing the final piece in post-production.

Working conditions


For many jobs you will usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday, but you may sometimes need to work overtime and unsocial hours to meet deadlines.


The work can be based at an office or studio depending on your role and the type of animation. Working as a freelance animator may give you the opportunity to work from home. In stop-motion animation you may spend a lot of time on your feet adjusting models. In other types of animation, you would spend most of your time sitting at a computer or drawing board.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Cooperating
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Implementing ideas

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF Level 8) or a degree (SCQF Level 9/10). Work-based qualifications such as a Modern Apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF Level 7) are also available.

To enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF Level 8) requires National 4/5 qualifications and 2 Highers.

To enter an Animation degree (SCFQ Level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at B or a relevant HNC/HND. To enter a postgraduate course (SCQF Level 11) requires a relevant degree and portfolio. 


Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Art and design (required by many courses)
  • Maths
  • Graphic communication
  • Computer science
  • Social studies
  • Physics
  • Product design
  • Design and manufacture
  • Photography

You will also need

  • Evidence of your ability as an animator.
  • Portfolio of your work.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate creative skills and industry knowledge such as Skills for Work Creative & Digital (SCQF Level 4) or Creative Industries (SCQF Level 5) may be helpful.