How to Become an Animator in 3 Simple Steps

If you’re not sure if becoming an animator is right for you, click here to find out more about the profession.

Step 1: High School Coursework (Optional)

Art, Painting and Drawing Courses

While the vast majority of the coursework in animation training programs is about graphic design, art schools and colleges want the candidates to be highly trained and skilled artists, you will be expected to be able to draw facial expression, figures and different types of bodies Studio art classes with a focus on drawing is a good place to start. In order to start experimenting with color and get a basic understanding of coloring painting classes are highly recommended too.

Technology and Computer Courses

In order to enter an animator training program you need to be a highly trained artist but the truth is that almost 99% of animators’ work is computer based. You will use computer generated imagery to create 3d and 2d animation. Also all editing programs are computer based, so in order to become a successful animator you need to develop strong computer skills. Courses like computer science will help you build these skills early on.

Science and Math

Biology and science courses will help aspiring animators get a more in depth knowledge about human body movement. As graphics are getting more and more realistic animators are expected to created 2d or 3d human designs with a movement identical to real life. Math classes will also help them to efficiently work things in scale make conversions etc.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Animation Certificate Degree program 1 year

Animation certificates are 24 to 36 semester credit hours programs and can be attended either online or offline. In order to get accepted you will need a high school diploma with a GPA over 1.5, also at some colleges passing a placement test is also needed.


  • Portfolio for 2D Animation
  • Completed 30 credits in the 2D or 3D Animation Certificate Program
  • Animation Principles
  • 2D Animation
  • Principles of 3D Modeling
  • Storyboarding and Animatics
  • Hard Surface and Organic Modeling
  • 3D Animation
  • Character Modeling
  • Material and Lighting
  • 3D Character Animation
  • 3D Character Rigging
  • Animation Studio
  • Advanced Lighting and Texturing

The cost of an Animation Certificate Degree program is $3,502 – $18,333.

Animators Associates Degree Program 2 years

Animators Associates Degree are 63 to 97 semester credit hour programs and can be attended either on-campus or online . In order to get accepted you will need a high school diploma or a GED with a GPA over 2.0.


General Education Requirements (30 Credits Hours)

  • Composition I
  • Composition II
  • Technology and Society
  • Introductory Algebra
  • Oral Communication

Core Courses (67 Credits Hours)

  • Concept and Character Development
  • History of Animation
  • Introduction to Computer Animation
  • Digital Imaging for Animation
  • Computer Animation I
  • Computer Animation II
  • Computer Animation III
  • Interactive Design and Game Development
  • Computer Animation Portfolio Preparation
  • Computer Animation Portfolio Project
  • Introduction to Digital Media Communications
  • Introduction to Graphic Imaging
  • College Algebra
  • Introduction to HTML
  • World Wide Web Design
  • Web Multi-Media
  • Professional Career Strategies   1
  • WRKTC 201
  • Work Experience

The cost of an Animators Associates Degree Program ranges from $23,280 to $52,479.

Bachelor of Arts in Animation Degree Program 4 years

Bachelor of Arts in Animation Degree are 120 to 180 semester credit hours programs and can be attended mostly on campus. In order to get accepted you will need a high school diploma with a GPA over 2.0 or an associates degree.


Foundation courses (35 credits)

  • Drawing I: Form and Space
  • Drawing II: Composition and Media
  • Design I: Elements and Organization
  • Color: Theory and Application
  •  Design II: 3-D Form in Space

General education Courses (60 credits)

  • Survey of Western Art I
  • Survey of Western Art II
  • 20th-century Art
  • Advanced Survey of Computer Art Applications
  • Speaking of Ideas
  • Composition
  • Media Literacy Theory

Core Courses (75 credits)

  • Action Analysis I
  • Principles of 2-D Animation
  • History of Animation
  • Digital Form, Space and Lighting
  • Principles of 3-D Animation
  • Principles of Screen Design
  • 3-D Character Setup and Animation
  • 2-D Animation Production†
  • 3-D Animation Production†
  • Concept Development for Animation
  • Animation Professional Development
  • Senior Animation Project I
  • Senior Animation Project II
  • Animation Post-production
  • Collaboration‡

The cost of a Bachelor of Arts in Animation Degree Program ranges from $38,400 to $84,600.

What is an Animator

It is really important to contact the college or university you want to enroll and ask them everything you want to know.

Step 3: Get a Graduate’s Degree

Master of Arts in Animation Program 1-2 years

Master of arts in animation are 30 to 45 semester credit hour programs and can be completed mostly on campus.

Admission requirements:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • A 500 to 750 statement of purpose
  • A portfolio
  • A resume


  • Animation Context and History
  • Character Animation Basics
  •  Animation Character Set-up
  • Digital 3-D Effects
  •  Animation Aesthetics and Practice
  •  Computer-generated Modeling and Design
  • Drawing in Motion
  • Cartoon Character Animation†
  • Character Look Development†
  • Naturalistic Character Animation‡
  • Environment Look Development‡
  • Collaborative Project
  • Animation M.A. Final Project
  • Art Criticism
  • Collaboration

The cost of a Master of Arts in Animation Program ranges from $36,045 to $69,132.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Animator and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 6 months to 12 months$3,502 – $18,333
Certification 1 month
Total 6 months to 18 months$3,502 – $18,333

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$23,280 – $52,479
Certification 1 month
Total 2 years & 1 month $23,280 – $52,479

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$38,400 – $84,600
Certification 1 month
Total 4 years & 1 month$38,400 – $84,600

Option 4 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$38,400 – $84,600
Master’s2 years$36,045 – $69,132
Certification1 month
Total6 years $74,445 – $153,732

Animator Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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