Life / Careers

Career in the spotlight: Animator

Metro introduces you to recent grads establishing careers in growing industries, and asked them how they landed a job in their field.

Hao Chen likes being an animator because of the people he gets to work with.


Hao Chen likes being an animator because of the people he gets to work with.

Job Description: Animator

Median Wage: The median wage of people working as animators, according to, is $49,782. Some animators make as much as $78,426, and can earn even more as animation producers or creative directors.

Expected Growth: The field is expected to grow 9.1 per cent over the next four years.

Why I like my job: Hao Chen, 31, Creative Director, Vancouver, BC

“I grew into an art family; ever since I was young, I was drawing. I went to Emily Carr here in Vancouver. I got into the animation program and did the full three years and got my BA there.

“Ever since, I’ve worked in the industry. I started with bigger studios, working on Barbie and Max Steele, and did postproduction on some Hollywood films. Then I went back to school, for entertainment design in Los Angeles, and after a year I decided it was time to start my own thing. I freelanced for a while, then my business partner and I started our company, LineTest. We focus on advertisements, TV commercials, online campaigns, digital signage and mobile apps. We’re a small studio, but we work with pretty big clients.

“My job is to convey clients’ ideas and campaigns to the artists in our studio. I also take care of the business side of LineTest. For me, it’s about the people, whether it’s meeting with clients and helping them with their vision, or working with artists. I learn a lot from other people, and I get inspired by new ideas that can only be created when a collective is brought together.”

How to become an animator:  

How to start: A Bachelor of Animation or a diploma in Computer Animation is a typical starting point for a professional animator.

Where this career can take you: Job titles and responsibilities for animators are diverse. Animators may work in feature film or television, on video games or in web design. They might become illustrators for medical textbooks or they could go on to become animation producers or creative directors in marketing firms. Depending on their strengths and interests, freelance animators often perform a mix of artistic duties.

Your next career step: If they haven’t studied it already, animators may want to explore post-grad studies in 3D Animation, or a certificate in Digital Animation or Digital Art Production. Artists working for marketing firms may choose to explore that field to accelerate career potential.

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