Top Strategies: How to Get a Job in Animation UK - Your Career Guide

Are you passionate about animation and looking to launch a successful career in the UK? With the animation industry thriving and evolving at a rapid pace, this is the perfect time to dive into this exciting realm. In this career guide, we will walk you through the essential steps on how to get a job in animation UK, explore the different sectors, techniques, and software, and provide valuable tips for landing your first animation job in the UK.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the UK animation industry and pursue relevant education to take advantage of job opportunities.
  • Gain valuable work experience, develop a strong portfolio, and master essential software/techniques for success.
  • Networking & professional development are key for staying competitive in the field & landing your first job.

Exploring the Animation Industry in the UK

An image of the future of London in a Stop-Motion animation Style.

The animation industry in the UK is diverse and offers a wide range of job opportunities. Animators can work across various sectors, including:

The art of animation spans from traditional hand-drawn techniques seen in classic animated film to computer game animation and other computer-generated animation for video games and other digital media.

A passion for animation art and a diverse skill set, including the ability to create special effects, motion graphics, and stop-frame drawings, are fundamental to becoming an animator. London is a major hub for the animation industry, with numerous studios and companies offering exciting opportunities for both experienced animators and those starting their careers.

Essential Steps to Becoming an Animator in the UK

A blend of education, work experience, and a compelling portfolio is required to become an animator in the UK. From entry-level positions like animation runners to senior roles such as art directors, the career path of an animator can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

The first step towards a successful career in animation is to hone your design skills and acquire relevant education. Many animators begin by pursuing a degree or foundation degree in a related field such as fine arts, digital models, or media production. Gaining valuable work experience and developing a strong portfolio showcasing your animation work are also crucial steps in building your career as an animator.

Pursue Relevant Education

Aspiring animators have various educational options to choose from, including:

Film schools, regional screen agencies, and private training providers offer short training courses in animation, while universities provide specializations in areas such as website animation, special effects, and video gaming.

A graduate program in animation can offer several benefits, including:

A Bachelor of Animation degree usually takes three to four years to complete and can provide a solid foundation for a prosperous career in the animation industry.

Pursue Relevant Education

Work experience is key in the animation industry, enabling aspiring animators to gain essential skills, knowledge, and connections. Gaining experience in the field can be achieved through internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level positions that require software skills such as Maya, Houdini, Toonboom, and TV Paint.

Another way to secure valuable work experience is by applying for residencies, which offer the chance to work as an artist-in-residence and access facilities conducive to creative work. Residencies can help enhance an animator’s profile, foster new connections, and build a strong portfolio.

Pursue Relevant Education

Animators need a robust portfolio to display their professional accomplishments and exemplify their proficiency and aptitude. It should include animation work from educational, professional, or freelance endeavors and can be presented in various forms, such as demo reels or digital art.

Regularly updating your portfolio ensures that it accurately reflects your skills and capabilities. As your career progresses, incorporating more recent and relevant work will help you stay competitive in the industry and increase your chances of securing new job opportunities.

Mastering Animation Software and Techniques

A thumbnail for a portfolio piece on an animation studio in London's website, for a film about an animated rebrand launch.

Keeping current with essential software and techniques is fundamental to success in the animation industry. Some of the most widely used animation software in the UK include:

As an animator, you should also familiarize yourself with various techniques, such as:

Mastering these techniques will not only expand your skillset but also increase your versatility and adaptability to different projects and job roles within the industry.

Key Traits of Successful Animators

Key traits of a successful animator include:

Storytelling plays a critical role in the work of an animator. By understanding and applying the principles of storytelling, animators can create compelling and engaging narratives that resonate with the audience.

Moreover, being organized facilitates tracking assets, files, and resources, which is necessary for a seamless workflow and collaboration with other team members.

Networking and Professional Development

For animators to stay competitive and enhance their skills in the constantly changing animation industry, networking and professional development are of utmost importance. Here are some ways to stay connected and informed about new opportunities and trends:

By actively participating in these activities, you can expand your network, learn from experienced professionals, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the animation industry.

Applying for residencies, reaching out to animation studios, advertising agencies, video production companies, graphic design houses, or PR departments can offer valuable industry experience and networking opportunities. Organizations like the British Film Institute (BFI), ScreenSkills, and local audiovisual sector skills councils provide resources for animators to further develop their specialist areas and stay abreast of industry news.

Job Opportunities and Career Progression

The UK animation industry offers a variety of job opportunities, including:

Most animators start their career at an animation studio as studio runners and then progress to higher-level roles after gaining several years of animators work experience, eventually opening their own animation studio.

Versatility is key to advancing in the animation industry. Having the ability to work with:

can provide more opportunities for job growth and success in the field. Initial remuneration for animators in the UK is comparatively low, but with experience and skill development, earning potential can increase significantly.

Tips for Landing Your First Animation Job

An animation character style frame of a girl flying.

Creating an effective showreel and portfolio that catch the eye of potential employers is key to landing your first animation job. Your showreel should be tailored to the specific role you’re applying for, showcasing a wide range of skills and work, and ideally be of one minute duration.

Another strategy for landing your first animation job is to:

These steps can help you gain experience and make a positive impression on potential employers.

Enhancing Your Skills and Staying Updated

For a successful career in the animation industry, it’s crucial to continually refine your animation skills and stay current with industry trends. Classes, courses, and training packages are available to refine your abilities in illustration, modelling, or software. Resources provided by organizations like the BFI, ScreenSkills, and local audiovisual sector skills councils can help you research short courses or opportunities to further develop specialist areas.

Staying up-to-date with trade news in the animation industry can give you a competitive advantage by allowing you to become familiar with new technology and updates ahead of your peers. Additionally, it can ensure that you do not miss out on important events in your industry that could influence your long-term career objectives.


In conclusion, a successful career in the UK animation industry requires a combination of education, work experience, and a strong portfolio. Continuous skill enhancement, networking, and staying updated on industry trends are crucial to stay competitive and advance in this exciting field. By following the steps and strategies outlined in this career guide, you will be well on your way to a fulfilling and prosperous animation career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do you need to be an animator UK?

To become an animator in the UK, you will need to have either a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in a relevant subject such as animation. At least 1-2 A levels are usually necessary for foundation degree/higher national diploma level qualifications, and 2-3 A levels are typically required for degree courses.

How much do animators get paid UK?

Animators in the UK typically earn an average salary of £36,621 per year, ranging from entry-level positions at £28,500 to experienced roles with salaries up to £55,000. Entry salaries usually fall between £12,000 to £15,000, and computer game animators can start off higher at £18,000.

Is it difficult to get a job in animation?

Gaining experience is key in the animation industry, and many jobs require a certain number of years of experience even for junior positions. As such, it can be difficult to land an initial job in animation.

How do I get hired as an animator?

Gain experience in different animation styles, build a portfolio, consider additional education, build your network, seek internships or work experience, and apply for jobs to get hired as an animator.

What are some popular animation techniques used in the UK?

2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, celluloid, and stop motion are all popular animation techniques widely used in the UK.

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