Learning from the Pros. Salary: none
The email comes in from Disney—you got the summer animation internship. All your practice has paid off, and you can't wait to get started two Mondays from now. That is, until you read the fine print and find out they want you there at 7:30AM every day—and the studio is an hour's drive away. Better spend those remaining days adjusting your sleep schedule.
Chief Dendro-Animator. Salary: $43,500
The job title sounds cool, but what it really means is you cover the animation of all trees for the upcoming nature-based animated movie franchise. You draw so many trees you feel like a little kid lost in the woods every day at work. But hey, you're making good money and you're living the animation dream. What could be better than that?
All-Purpose Animator. Salary: $61,370
Ten years into your career, you've done it all, from computer-assisted animation to claymation to motion capture. Now you're a go-to gal for a big animation studio. When the new projects are rolled out, all the supervisors want you on their team, and you get first dibs on the coolest assignments.
Animation Team Lead. Salary: $85,000
You did most of the major CGI characters for the new Star Wars franchise, and it's landed you a cushy job as an animation team leader for a rival studio. Now you just hand out assignments, check up on everyone's work, and give nicknames to all the newbie animators.
Autonomous Animator. Salary: $96,425
After twenty successful years working for the studios, including the last five as supervising manager, you decide to get back to what you love best: the animation itself. You strike out on your own as a freelancer and find that your name is still very much in demand. You have it all—mega-money, glory, creative freedom. If you could only find a decent intern who didn't screw things up, life would be golden.