Visual Effects Artist

By TACP Staff on July 18, 2021

A visual effects artist is both an artist and a craftsman. Using animation software, a skilled professional is able to create unique special effects or complex visual impressions needed for the project at hand. From accident-scene recreation to blockbuster movie effects, the visual arts animator is an essential part of both the public and private sectors.

What Is a Visual Effects Artist?

A visual effects animator is the individual responsible for inserting special effects into films; effects that cannot be added during live action shooting. A great example is when the green screen is used during shots of actors in a studio, and an exciting background is added later. These professionals may even create entire characters through computer software programs and integrate them into the film, even allowing them to interact with live action characters. They work to increase the realism and excitement of television shows, films, commercials and other projects.

A strong background in multimedia art and animation is required to be successful at this career, and many individuals work as animators or other artists before specializing in visual effects.

Where Do Visual Effects Artists Work?

Although most of this professional’s time will be spent in an office where they have access to computers and animation software, visual effects animators can also be found at live action shootings. They may travel to various locations to watch the filming happen or to document the recording for their own research and animation process. They often work long hours, nights and weekends, especially when they are under tight deadlines.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of all multimedia artists and animators were self-employed in 2012. Although freelancing offers up a variety of benefits, including the ability to take on what jobs the artist wants, there is also a downside, which is non-steady work and paychecks. The good news is that several industries employ these animators, including the motion picture and film industry, which is responsible for 13% of employment for this field.

Visual Effects Artist Education & Training Requirements

The BLS suggests that individuals who are interested in becoming a visual effects animator take the time to earn a bachelor’s degree in animation, art, or a closely related career. Most employers require at least this level of education, although many individuals earn higher degrees, especially after deciding to specialize in visual effects animation. Learning computer software often used in animation and multimedia art will give individuals an advantage in the field, even before they specialize.

Learn More: Animation Schools

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Visual Effects Artist Salary & Job Outlook


As if this career weren’t exciting enough, the salary is the icing on the cake. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median salary for multimedia artists and animators in 2017 was $70,530. However, the top 10% of earners in this field brought home more than $123,060 in 2017. The earning potential is certainly there for those who are willing to do the work. The 5 top-paying states for this career in 2017 were California, Texas, NewYork, Washington, and Florida.

Job Outlook

Although multimedia artists and animator jobs are only expected to grow about 3% through the year 2022, the demand for those working in the motion picture and film industry is likely much higher. This is because individuals are always demanding high-quality television and films, so these professionals are always in demand. This is also true for those who plan to go into the video game industry, as the demand for these has been steadily growing and isn’t expected to slow any time soon. States with the highest levels of employment for these professionals are California, New York Washington, Texas, and Illinois.

Helpful Organizations, Societies & Agencies

Related Digital Arts Careers

Consider these additional careers in Digital Arts.