a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Special Effects Artist

Also known as 3D Animator (Three-Dimensional Animator), 3D Artist (Three-Dimensional Artist), Animator, Artist, Digital Artist, Graphic Artist, Illustrator, Motion Graphics Artist, Multimedia Producer

Special Effects Artist

Also known as 3D Animator (Three-Dimensional Animator), 3D Artist (Three-Dimensional Artist), Animator

Interests Profile
  • Artistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$42,390 - $142,750 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Design
  • Communications and Media
Core tasks
  • Design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
  • Create basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
  • Participate in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design, and progress tracking.
Is Special Effects Artist the right career path for you?

Would Special Effects Artist be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Special Effects Artist and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Special Effects Artist do?

Special Effects Artists create special effects or animations using film, video, computers, or other electronic tools and media for use in products, such as computer games, movies, music videos, and commercials.

What kind of tasks does a Special Effects Artist perform regularly?

Special Effects Artists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
  • Create basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
  • Participate in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design, and progress tracking.
  • Create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling programs.
  • Make objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion.
  • Apply story development, directing, cinematography, and editing to animation to create storyboards that show the flow of the animation and map out key scenes and characters.

The above responsibilities are specific to Special Effects Artists. More generally, Special Effects Artists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

What is a Special Effects Artist salary?

The median salary for a Special Effects Artist is $77,700, and the average salary is $88,080. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Special Effects Artist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Special Effects Artists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Special Effects Artists earn less than $42,390 per year, 25% earn less than $56,890, 75% earn less than $108,640, and 90% earn less than $142,750.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Special Effects Artists is expected to change by 15.9%, and there should be roughly 7,800 open positions for Special Effects Artists every year.

Median annual salary
$77,700
Typical salary range
$42,390 - $142,750
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
15.9%

What personality traits are common among Special Effects Artists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Special Effects Artist are usually higher in their Artistic and Investigative interests.

Special Effects Artists typically have very strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Also, Special Effects Artists typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Special Effects Artist tend to value Independence, Achievement, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Special Effects Artists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Special Effects Artists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Special Effects Artists moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Special Effects Artists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, cooperation, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Special Effects Artists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Achievement/Effort
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Special Effects Artists need?

Many Special Effects Artists will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Special Effects Artists usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Special Effects Artists

  • 2.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 11.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 18.9% completed some college coursework
  • 8.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 43.6% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 13.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Special Effects Artists

Special Effects Artists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, design, or communications and media knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Special Effects Artists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Sales and Marketing
Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

Important Abilities needed by Special Effects Artists

Special Effects Artists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Special Effects Artists need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Special Effects Artists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Visualization
The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Critical Skills needed by Special Effects Artists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Special Effects Artists frequently use skills like active listening, reading comprehension, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Special Effects Artists, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.