How Much Do 2D Animators Earn? (2023)

One of the most important questions that you will want to have answered before you start training to become a 2D Animator is how much you can expect to make. While it is a creative job, it is a job nonetheless. Your starting salary is something you should consider, especially if you are planning on moving or paying for elaborate professional development training. While a slew of individual factors will impact how much money you can earn as a 2D Animator, the median salary of a 2D Animator in the US is about $60,000 a year.

What is a 2D Animator?

2D Animators are creative professionals who plan, design, and build two-dimensional animated assets in everything from traditional animation and video games to digital advertising and user interfaces. As long as a digital asset is made to move, it is likely that a 2D Animator was involved in the process. 2D Animators may also be involved in the development, design, planning, or storyboarding phases of a given project, depending on their level of expertise and the kind of project in question. On the whole, 2D animation is a versatile skill used in various industries and fields, making it an ideal career path for anyone interested in a creative career.

In today’s world, unless a project consciously uses the unique affordances of hand-drawn animation, almost all 2D animation work is computer-assisted. This shift means most animators have begun using computer design applications such as Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro to add the illusion of motion to a set of static images. 2D Animators may also use tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to construct certain kinds of specific animated assets, such as moving digital logos or online GIFs. This emphasis on digitally aided animation tools means that your training as a 2D Animator will cover a lot of technical training.

(Video) How To Make Money As A 2D Animator

Read more about what a 2D Animator does.

What Affects Your Pay as a 2D Animator

Starting salaries are sometimes difficult to judge because so many different factors go into determining the market rate salary for a 2D Animator. These can include the kind of educational background you have, the amount of work experience you are coming to the job with, and the city in which you are working.


As a general rule, the level of education correlates strongly with overall earning potential. This is, in large part, because many high-paying jobs have a strict education requirement and because highly educated potential employees will have more job offers and be more competitive on the job market, giving them more leeway to negotiate for higher starting salaries. This not only accounts for the kind of education you receive (college-educated employees will tend to make more than their non-degree-holding counterparts) but also the general reputation of the college you attended.

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Experienced 2D Animators command significantly higher salaries than their novice counterparts for a few straightforward reasons. The most obvious is that experienced animators are more likely to be hired by large studios and are more likely to start in more advanced professional roles. In addition, there are just fewer experienced animators on the job market at any given time. Hence, employers pay slightly higher salaries to convince experienced animators to work for them than a different design studio.


Another important factor that helps determine a 2D Animator's salary is the industry in which they work and the studio that employs them. 2D Animators working for major animation studios like Disney/Pixar or for large game design studios are likely to be paid more than 2D Animators at small advertising agencies or contractor studios. Still, these jobs will also have higher requirements and be more competitive in terms of applicants.

Freelance 2D Animators will have greater control over their starting salary since they set the price of their labor. Still, they also risk not generating enough business at that rate to sustain their freelance work.

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As with virtually all careers, 2D Animation salaries are affected by local economies in such a way that working in a large city, like New York City or Los Angeles, will correlate with a higher salary than working in Butte. This has less to do with the field of animation than it has to do with the nature of metropolitan economies. It costs more to live in a city, so wages are higher to compensate. Whether or not the wage increase is sufficient to outweigh the cost of living increase is a question you’ll need to ask yourself when looking for 2D animation jobs.


The final major factor that contributes to salary ranges for 2D Animators is the concern of specialization. This is fairly similar to industry concerns, but animators who specialize in a specific style or form of 2D animation will have more expansive job prospects and be more competitive within those subfields. This means that their salaries are likely to increase to compensate, assuming that the skills they specialize in are in high demand.

Pay Range for 2D Animators

According to job listing aggregator, starting 2D Animator salaries begin at an average of $58,000 a year and they have a median national salary (with common pay raises for location and experience included) of about $62,000 a year. Entry-level salaries can, depending on the employer, go as high as $78,000 dollars a year, with posted salaries reaching as high as $97,000, though these are outliers. For example, on Glassdoor, The Walt Disney Corporation has several posted jobs starting at $40 dollars an hour, which is significantly higher than the national average but requires relocation. These jobs would be incredibly competitive relative to other jobs only paying $24 dollars an hour.

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Highest-Earning Job Titles for 2D Animators

Most senior 2D Animator job titles are those held by team leaders or animators who have more control over the creative direction of a project and are hired for their expertise. These job titles include Lead Animators, who earn a median salary of $78,000 a year and Senior Lead Animators, who earn a median salary of $102,000 a year.

Highly skilled, experienced 2D Animators will also compete for very high-ranking creative roles, such as Chief Creative Officer of a studio or firm, which is a highly competitive job that commands a median salary of $225,000 a year.

Learn the Skills to Become a 2D Animator at Noble Desktop

Once you’ve committed to learning the skills necessary to become a 2D Animator, Noble Desktop is available to make that dream a reality through professional skills instruction. Noble offers a wide array of 2D animation classes, available in person or online, and all of these classes are taught by expert instructors with years of on-the-job experience. This structure means that regardless of how your course is delivered, you’ll receive real-time instruction and be able to ask questions and receive personalized feedback on your work. Similarly, no matter whether you take the course in person or online, you’ll benefit from small class sizes and all of the professionalization support options, including one-on-one career mentoring in the career-certificate programs. Finally, every Noble class comes with the option for a free retake within one year, meaning that you’ll have the chance to build your portfolio and get even more hands-on experience in preparation for entering the job market.

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Students interested in a career change may consider enrolling in Noble’s Motion Graphics Certificate program. This class aims to teach students how to use tools like Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro to create evocative 2D and 3D animated assets for many practical projects. In this class, students will be guided through the process of using After Effects to animate text, photos, and videos, and they will learn how to modify these animations in subtle but perceptible ways slightly. Students will also learn how to create animated images using layered Photoshop and Illustrator files (this course does not include instruction in either of these tools, they are prerequisites for taking the course). Finally, students will learn how to use Premiere Pro to edit their animated assets into video files. All this work will culminate in a series of professionalization seminars, including a portfolio-building workshop and a one-on-one mentorship session, intended to prepare students for a career as a 2D or 3D Animator.

Students who aren’t ready to make a significant career shift but do want to learn 2D animation skills may want to consider one of Noble’s many motion graphics bootcamps. These classes include the Adobe After Effects Bootcamp, which provides students with guided instruction in the use of After Effects for creating animated digital assets and the Adobe Premiere Pro Bootcamp, which teaches students how to use that program to compile their animated assets into a completed project. These courses are excellent starting points for new animators looking to learn the trade. However, they don’t provide students with any of the professionalization services offered through Noble’s career certificate programs.

Finally, students who aren’t sure that they want to start learning 2D animation but are intrigued by the possibility should consult some of Noble’s free training resources to learn more. Noble’s Learn 2D Animation page, as well as their Learn After Effects and Learn Premiere Pro page compiles a weird range of articles, free seminars and resources that students can use to help them on their 2D Animation career path. Noble also provides prospective 2D Animators with a career information hub to help them decide if a career change is right for them.

(Video) How much does 2D animation Cost

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a 2D Animator is a good way to enter into a relatively well-paying career field, with median animators making about $60,000 a year.
  • Like most careers, however, a 2D Animator’s salary heavily depends on things like education, experience, and where the job is located.
  • Average pay for 2D Animators is fairly variable, but entry-level positions commonly reach as high as $70,000 a year.
  • 2D Animators can embark on a career path leading to several careers earning more than $100,000 a year and a few rare jobs that pay as much as $300,000 a year.


How much do 2D animators get paid? ›

2D Animator salary in India ranges between ₹ 1.0 Lakhs to ₹ 6.1 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 3.0 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 846 latest salaries received from 2D Animators.

How much do Disney 2D animators get paid? ›

Average The Walt Disney Studios Animator hourly pay in the United States is approximately $36.50, which is 27% above the national average.

How much does Glassdoor pay 2D Animator? ›

$51K - $85K (Glassdoor est.)

How much do Netflix 2D animators make? ›

The base salary for Entry Level Animator in companies like NETFLIX INC range from $65,803 to $94,303 with the average base salary of $78,103. The total cash compensation, which includes bonus, and annual incentives, can vary anywhere from $68,303 to $97,003 with the average total cash compensation of $82,003.

How much does 30 seconds of 2D animation cost? ›

Similarly, a 30-second 2D animation costs around $2000 – $4500. To name a few, this price range is dependent on your project complexity and the number of revisions you request.

Is 2D animation a good job? ›

On the whole, 2D animation is a versatile skill used in various industries and fields, making it an ideal career path for anyone interested in a creative career. In today's world, unless a project consciously uses the unique affordances of hand-drawn animation, almost all 2D animation work is computer-assisted.

Does 2D or 3D animation pay more? ›

Earnings are roughly the same in both types of animation. According to PayScale, 2D animators in Canada make a median salary of $54,000. Salaries range from roughly $40,000 to $70,000. Meanwhile, PayScale says 3D animators make a median salary of $53,000.

Is there money in 2D animation? ›

Becoming a 2D Animator is a good way to enter into a relatively well-paying career field, with median animators making about $60,000 a year.

How much does Warner Bros pay 2D animators? ›

The estimated middle value of the base pay for Animator at this company in the United States is $18.90 per hour.

Is 2D animation in high demand? ›

The 2D animation industry is growing steadily, with increasing demand across a range of different sectors. With the rise in the popularity of online videos and the increasing use of animation in education and marketing, 2D animation is likely to continue to be a popular and lucrative field for years to come.

Is 2D animation in demand? ›

Demand for 2D animators is at an all-time high

Over the past few years, platforms like Netflix have invested serious dollars in new 2D animations, and there are new OTT platforms are popping up all over the world.

Is there a demand for 2D animators? ›

Like 3D animation, the job market for 2D animators has seen an uptick due to the increased demand for visual content. There are many reasons to get into 2D animation, including the potential to work on exciting projects and the flexibility it provides.

Do 2D animators get paid well? ›

As of May 26, 2023, the average hourly pay for a 2D Animator in the United States is $24.36 an hour. While ZipRecruiter is seeing hourly wages as high as $33.65 and as low as $15.14, the majority of 2D Animator wages currently range between $20.43 (25th percentile) to $26.68 (75th percentile) across the United States.

Can you be a millionaire as a Animator? ›

Consulting fees now top $100 per hour for many consultants, who earn more than $200,000. In terms of salaries, visual development artists, character technical directors, 3D modelers, animation art directors, and forensic animators rank among the top five. So can an animator be rich, yes sir!

Do Pixar animators get paid well? ›

How much does a Pixar Animation Studios make? As of May 26, 2023, the average annual pay for a Pixar Animation Studios in the United States is $102,610 a year.

How much does a freelance 2D animator charge? ›

2D Animation Jobs by Hourly Rate
Job TitleRangeAverage
Graphic DesignerRange:$16 - $28Average:$20
Animator, 2DRange:$13 - $56Average:$25
Graphic Artist / AnimatorRange:$24 - $65Average:$35
Digital DesignerRange:$14 - $31Average:$29
3 more rows

Why is 2D animation expensive? ›

Factors that influence the 2D animation costs

The illusion of motion is created by quickly change the images; to make a second of animation, you may need even 24 unique drawings. It takes a lot of work to create a minute of 2D animation.

Why does 2D animation cost so much? ›

Modern TV episodes made in 2D tend to have a pretty long runtime (over 20 minutes) and pretty high quality of animation, and this makes them very costly to produce.

Is animation a stressful job? ›

The work environment for multimedia artists and animators can be stressful. They might work under tight deadlines and significant pressure to get their designs completed as quickly as possible.

Is 2D animation hard? ›

Like any other creative art form, animation can be as easy or hard as you want it to be. With 2D animation, all you need to get started is a pencil and some basic software. If you're looking to create beautiful animated cartoons, the best first step is to work on your static drawing skills.

Is animation a fun career? ›

A career as an animator can be a rewarding way to express yourself artistically, work in a field you're passionate about and contribute to exciting projects. Learning more about the role of an animator can help you decide if the job is the right choice for you and your career goals.

Which animation pays the most? ›

3D Animator

3D animation is also one of the highest-paying animation jobs. 3D animators are professional computer graphics. Their main responsibility is to create video games, websites, animation in films, and much more.

Is 2D animation hand drawn? ›

There are two major forms of animation: 2D (hand-drawn, or computer assisted) and 3D (CGI).

Is 2D harder than 3D? ›

Regarding 2D animation, the level of difficulty also depends on your skill level. If you can draw quickly and efficiently (getting the form right immediately), it will probably be easier for you. 3D animation is quicker because you don't need to animate every frame as you do with 2D animation.

Is animation high paying? ›

Employees who knows Animation earn an average of ₹18.6lakhs, mostly ranging from ₹15.0lakhs per year to ₹50.2lakhs per year based on 69 profiles. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹26.0lakhs per year.

How much does it take to learn 2D animation? ›

Learning to animate at a professional level will often take months or even years, though students can shorten this process differently. Students with prior experience in digital design or a background in animation theory will find the tools and techniques of the process come to them more quickly.

Do you need math for 2D animation? ›

Math in animation is necessary to calculate viewpoints, aspect ratios, character movement, artificial lighting, and color balance. Furthermore, animators use math to calculate movement and frame rates in animation.

Does Disney still hire 2D animators? ›

Disney has announced it's accepting applications for its 2022 2D/hand-drawn trainee program. Designed for emerging artists, the program offers up to a 12-month paid position at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Do 2D animators need a degree? ›

You do not need a degree to be a 2D animator.

Many larger companies require that candidates have a degree in Animation, Graphic Design, or a related field. Many 2D animators in the industry have a bachelor's degree in fine arts, computer animation, illustration, digital arts, media arts, or communications.

How much does a 2D Animator earn in Japan? ›

What is the salary trajectory for a Animator?
Job TitleSalary
AnimatorJP¥2,27,829 /mo
Senior AnimatorJP¥38L /yr
Lead Animator

Is animation a low paying job? ›

Entry Level

The entry-level animation income in the USA is between $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

How do you become a successful 2D animator? ›

Skills required to become a 2D animator
  1. Training in 2D animation, both cel & computer graphics.
  2. Ability to visualize abstract concepts.
  3. Experience with storyboarding, clean ups & layout design.
  4. Drawing ability, artistic mindset.
  5. Visual storytelling.
  6. Ability to draw in a variety of styles & genres.

Is animation a successful career? ›

Job Prospects

Full length animation movies are in great demand. A single animation film requires as many as 500 animators, which means huge employment opportunities.

Can I learn 2D animation in 3 months? ›

Students interested in intensive training and willing to put in the effort can become ready to start working as a 2D Animator in as little as three months. While finding a job may take longer, you can set yourself up for success through intensive skills training.

Is 2D animation declining? ›

And the answer is YES. There is still plenty of work for 2D animators, it's just less in films and more in the huge market of mobile gaming, commercials or TV series (for kids and adults). They all still use a ton of 2D animation and don't seem to be slowing down.

Is it better to be a 2D or 3D animator? ›

2D animation involves less complexity and processing time, but 3D offers more dynamism and freedom to create worlds of your own choice. 2D animation suits more to the style of artistic minds while 3D takes the liking of technical professionals.

What is the life of a 2D animator? ›

2D animators develop storyboards, characters, and backgrounds to bring stories to life in 2D. Working with software such as Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and 2D animators provide creative support to art directors in a variety of industries.

Can you be a 2D animator without drawing skills? ›

While drawing skills can help you to improve, that is not the essential skill to do animation. For animation you need to understand the most basic principles in animation, like timing, anticipation, pose to pose.

Do you need to be good at drawing to be a 2D animator? ›

Amazing artists do not consistently make great animators, and vice versa. Now, if you're wanting to learn 2D animation, then yes, knowing how to draw is going to be vital, but even then you need to have a strong understanding of the foundations of animation.

How many hours do 2d animators work per day? ›

Work environment

Staff animators work a regular 40-hour workweek but may occasionally be expected to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines.

Do animators get underpaid? ›

Anime's rise in popularity over the past few years and especially during the pandemic is evident in the increase of streaming sites and the abundance of merchandise, so why are animators living in poverty? The main reason that an animator's salary is so low is that most studios pay by commission.

Why do 3d animators get paid so little? ›

This is due to the amount of work required for many animation projects and tight deadlines. Many animators are not paid overtime when they work over 40 hours per week. Some animation jobs get outsourced to countries where local animators are willing to do the work for less pay.

Can animators make 6 figures? ›

Glassdoor has the national average a bit higher at $74,000. Like many other fields, compensation for animators also depends on experience: it's not uncommon for senior-level animators or art directors to earn well into six figures.

Is animator a difficult job? ›

It's a career path that takes a great deal of love and dedication to the art form, but if you love it then it's going to be completely worth it. You'll find out very quickly if character animation is something you want to pursue; it's at times frustrating, confusing and, above all, difficult.

Can I be rich by drawing? ›

The answer is yes. As an artist there are many avenues that you can explore to monetize your talent, allow yourself to be your own boss and spend your days doing what you love.

How much do CGI animators get paid? ›

Cgi Animation Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$142,500$11,875
75th Percentile$138,000$11,500
25th Percentile$72,500$6,041

Is it hard to get a job at Pixar? ›

Getting a job at Pixar is notoriously difficult. The American computer animation studio, known for its critically and commercially successful computer-animated feature films such as “Lightyear” and “Coco”, only employs the best of the best. It is one of the most important studios in Disney's media kingdom.

How much do CGI animators make? ›

$45,500 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $84,000 is the 75th percentile. Salaries above this are outliers.

Do animators make good money? ›

Animator salaries typically range between $52,000 and $112,000 a year. The average hourly rate for animators is $36.95 per hour. Location, education, and experience impacts how much an animator can expect to make. Animators make the most in Nevada, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Delaware.

Can an animator become a billionaire? ›

In terms of salaries, visual development artists, character technical directors, 3D modelers, animation art directors, and forensic animators rank among the top five. So can an animator be rich, yes sir!

Why are animators paid little? ›

This is due to the amount of work required for many animation projects and tight deadlines. Many animators are not paid overtime when they work over 40 hours per week. Some animation jobs get outsourced to countries where local animators are willing to do the work for less pay.

How hard is it to animate 2D? ›

Is 2D Animation Easy? Like any other creative art form, animation can be as easy or hard as you want it to be. With 2D animation, all you need to get started is a pencil and some basic software. If you're looking to create beautiful animated cartoons, the best first step is to work on your static drawing skills.

Is animation a stable career? ›

Yes, animation is a good career.

Many people only think about animation in terms of entertainment, and while there are many animators in that field, they also hold a firm spot in industries like advertising, marketing, and multimedia. Here are some common career paths for animators: Animator. 3-D animator.


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