Special effects artists and animators held about 62,400 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of special effects artists and animators were as follows:
- Self-employed workers - 59%
- Motion picture and video industries - 11%
- Software publishers - 9%
- Computer systems design and related services - 4%
- Advertising, public relations, and related services - 3%
Many artists and animators work in offices; others work from home.
Most special effects artists and animators work a regular schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.
Employment of special effects artists and animators is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 7,800 openings for special effects artists and animators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020 and is likely to occur early in the decade.
Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television.
Consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies. This will create demand for newer computer hardware, which will enhance the complexity of animation and visual effects. Additional special effects artists and animators will be required to meet this increased demand.
Further, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Special effects artists will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.
The median annual wage for special effects artists and animators was $78,790 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,370.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for special effects artists and animators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Advertising, public relations, and related services - $87,540
- Software publishers - $84,540
- Motion picture and video industries - $78,790
- Computer systems design and related services - $77,740
Most special effects artists and animators work a regular full-time schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.