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How Much Do Disney Animators Make Per Year?

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If you love to draw and would like to have a job bringing a story to life, becoming an animator may be the ideal career choice. Animators create artistic renderings and use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create cartoon like animation for movies, television shows and video games. Disney films like Mulan, Tangled and Frozen used 40 to 60 artists to create animation that captivated the hearts of children and adults, alike. A Disney animator salary varies, but top animators can pull in as much as $125,000, per year. Education and experience will influence your ability to land a job as a Disney animator, but you can also work for a wide variety of production companies. Animators create artistic projects for web based applications, websites and cell phone platforms.

Job Description

Before computer technology, animators drew hundreds of individual pictures and ordered them in fast succession to bring a movie scene to life. Now, animators draw 2D and 3D renderings of characters and then, use CGI software to create movement. An animator begins by reading a script and creating a storyboard of images and scenes. The next step is to create pictures that represent the characters in the story. Once the initial artistic animation is complete, an animator must edit the animation to match it to the special effects and the narrative. Animators work with other professionals like digital character modelers, crowd FX artists and visual development artists to create the final rendering. An artistic flair, technical expertise and the ability to work as a team is essential for this position.

Education Requirements

The best way to prepare to become a storyboard artist is to earn an undergraduate degree in animation. This bachelor’s degree in fine arts will demonstrate your competence in animation, live action film and open media. You’ll take classes such as computer animation integrated techniques, computer generated imagery 3D, digital foundation, stop motion animation, animation techniques and character animation. In addition to classroom learning, you’ll have the opportunity to work in a production studio to apply theories and techniques in a practical setting. You’ll learn more about puppet animation, digital editing and sound-mixing. Most programs include a senior capstone project that involves creating an animated film to demonstrate your creativity and knowledge.


Walt Disney Animation Studios is the oldest animation studio in the U.S. Known for producing iconic films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney is often viewed as the best in the industry. Animators are sought after by a variety of other production companies. In addition to film, you can apply your skills to video gaming, television and other film production studios. Most animators work in a studio setting, but it’s possible to work remotely as a freelance artist.

Salary and Years of Experience

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the average annual salary for a multimedia artist and animator was $70,530, or $33.91, per hour. A Disney animator salary varies by type and position. Here is a list of a some sample salaries for animators:

Cartoonist/Animator: $116,000-$125,000

3D Modeler: $106,000-$114,000

Effects Artist: $103,000-$112,000

CG Animator: $83,000-$89,000

Animation Trainee: $3,337-$3,629 per month

You’ll need substantial experience to land a job as a Disney animator. Walt Disney Animation Studios has a talent development program to further the profession and encourage animation students to gain hands-on experience in the field. If you’re looking for a summer internship or are just graduating, you can apply to the program.

Job Growth Trend

Jobs for multimedia artists and animators are expected to grow by 8 percent between now and 2026. An increased interest in computer generated graphics for video games and mobile devices will increase this growth.


Dr. Kelly Meier has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and has 30+ years of experience in higher education. She is the author and co-author of 15 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education with Kinect Education Group. She is the co-owner of a small business and a regular contributor for The Equity Network. She has numerous publications published by Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.

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