Career Planning for Freelance Animators

Freelance animators careers can have interesting and rewarding careers. Animation, particularly 3D animation, is one of the big money areas in modern media. This is a highly competitive area, with many talented artists trying to get the big jobs. However, they have to serve a lengthy apprenticeship learning how to work in this extremely complex medium and the various industries that use their services.


Animators usually have quite a large and very necessary array of qualifications:

  • Fine Arts
  • Media studies qualifications
  • Software competencies and experience
  • 3D qualifications and experience

Commercial portfolio issues

Like other artists, this is a portfolio based career, and your commercial work is the other major source of credentials for getting major jobs. The first thing you’ll see is that getting freelance jobs is very much based on your qualifications, experience and verified abilities in your portfolio. The animation contracts will want to see absolutely solid, proven skills and people who exactly match their criteria for the jobs.


Animators usually work as interns during the qualifications period, and work for web design or animation studios for some years before becoming freelancers. You do need to know your way around the media and the animation industry to do freelance animation work. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky and get a career break early, you have to work your way upwards on a pure merit basis, using your talent and experience to get jobs. 

Career Dynamics for Freelance Animators

Like all freelance work, the need is for regular income and ongoing opportunities for development of your career. Easier said than done, and you really have to look for jobs which add the sort of portfolio materials which will get you the big animation work. 

This is a simplified picture of the freelance animation market. At the start of your career, you will remember that you were given training which built up your skills systematically, starting with basics, working through layouts, animation techniques, and other methodologies. That’s pretty much how a freelance animation career operates, a progressive development leading to better jobs. It’s important to develop a very broad knowledge base and current experience across a range of animation areas and media work.

In order to progress your career it’s better to work across a large range of types of animation jobs. These jobs can also develop and extend into other areas of animation as a natural development of your existing work on contracts. This creates opportunities for you to build a very strong portfolio which proves your skills as a commercial animator.

The portfolio, as it expands, will give you valuable credentials across all areas of animation, and that’s where the opportunities will arise. Many freelancers do in fact work on major media projects like movies, because they’re the acknowledged best in their fields. If you’re looking at a career in this field, it’s a good idea to check the animation credits, and check out how the senior animators got started. Many of them are quite famous in their fields, and have their own Wikis, etc., outlining their career tracks.