What Can You Do With A 3D Animation Degree?


What do “Toy Story”, King Tut and the iPhone have in common? The answer: 3D modelers, artists, and animators who use specialized computer software to create visuals and images that appear three-dimensional. These professionals work on the teams that helped bring Pixar’s Woody and Buzz to life, put a face to a centuries-old mummified pharaoh, and develop the iconic look of Apple products.

It’s an exciting time to find work or advance your current career in graphic design. If you want to become a graphic designer, you can consider getting your degree. Most jobs in the field require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, media arts, or a related field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Because the field goes beyond traditional design, today’s multimedia artists and animators must possess advanced technical skills. That’s why Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) Online Graphic Design Degree offers a concentration in 3D Modeling and Animation.

Earning a graphic design degree can help you learn the latest principles and techniques using standard 3D animation programs, software, and tools, including Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk’s Maya and Mudbox. If you plan to “pursue a career in animation, whether 2D or 3D, knowledge and experience of the principles of animation is crucial,” says Max CallahanAssociate Dean of Game Art and Development at SNHU.

According to BLS, graduates with a background and experience in 3D animation or modeling can find job opportunities in a variety of industries, from film to healthcare. A majority 59% some special effects artists and animators are freelancers, but where you work depends on what’s best for you personally and professionally. As the BLS notes, these entertainers and animators had a median annual salary of $77,700 in 2020.

So, if you are ready to combine creativity with construction and imagination with innovation, consider one of the following industries for a career in 3D modeling and animation.

An infographic piece with the text Industries Graphic Designers Work.  Left to right: An icon of three people talking with the text Advertising and Marketing.  A square icon of rulers and a diagonal line with the text Architectural, Industrial & Interior Design.  An icon of an open book with the text Education.  Icon of a gamepad with the text Film, television and video games.  A microscope icon with the text Medical and Scientific Services

Cinema and television

A degree in 3D animation can be your foot in the door with the film and video industries, the second largest employer of multimedia artists, according to BLS.

“3D modeling and animation are used in television and animated films, and both are visual effects (VFX) elements in film and television as well,” Callahan said.

Do you know the dinosaurs from Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” or the dragons from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”? These computer generated images (CGI) and other on-screen VFX include 3D modeling work. Not surprisingly, animation and special effects studios such as Pixar and Industrial Light & Magic continue to be at the forefront of developing the latest and greatest in 3D animation and modeling technology, and a program of online graphic design has even helped one Disney Imagineer hone his craft.

Advertising and Marketing

Advertising and marketing are closely aligned with the film and television industries. From the Super Bowl to Facebook, media and platforms offer many opportunities for digital designers to work with animation or 3D modeling.

The best advertising and marketing campaigns are memorable, emotional, interactive, or a combination of these. Compelling computer-generated graphics or images can go a long way in creating innovative or successful commercial videos – think of GEICO’s Flagship Gecko or the enduring allure of Coca-Cola’s polar bears.

While working on your 3D animation degree, you can study both the theory and practice of multimedia graphic design, including design fundamentals as well as advanced digital sculpting. Meanwhile, you can continue to master tools of the trade, software, and apps designed for creative professionals working in 3D modeling.

Video games

Video, computer and other electronic games have come a long way since Pac-Man was released over 40 years ago in 1980, CNN reports. Today, the video game industry has become a $85 billion market, according to Statista. The industry is constantly evolving and now offers features like photorealistic graphics that simulate reality, reports Statista. Video games are even expanding to include more technologies and platforms, such as mobile devices and social media.

Max Callahan with text Max Callahan3D modelers and animators “are an integral part of game development, and the games industry is now bigger than film and television,” Callahan said. If you want to become a video game designer, the next step is to learn how to create initial wireframes to render photorealistic effects with the latest software. A 3D animation training allows you to learn the process of 3D sculpting. The hands-on training and projects you complete as part of your studies can prepare you for a career in the game arts industry while building your game design portfolio.

Architectural, industrial and interior design

From the iPhone to IM Pei’s Louvre Pyramid, good design balances form and function. These three industries use 3D technology in different ways. In the architecture industry, they use visualizations with cameras and animated elements to help develop their work, according to Callahan. “Interior design visualization also showcases work through flyovers of 3D modeled spaces,” he said.

The industrial design industry also uses virtual tools to develop plans. “Industrial design projects are often built virtually with 3D modeling and animation to demonstrate the function of products and mechanisms prior to real-world manufacturing and construction,” Callahan said.

Similarly, most people interested in a 3D animation program want to balance their creativity with their mastery of technology. Mastering the ability to visualize and design original concepts using emerging technologies can give you a professional edge.

By focusing on 3D modeling and animation, you have the ability to produce multi-dimensional digital representations of your design concepts. Using 3D wireframe modeling techniques and software, you can learn how to render digital designs of prototypes, products, properties, and more, for businesses, clients, or yourself.

Medical and scientific services

The entertainment and design industries aren’t the only options for pursuing a career in 3D modeling, especially if you have previous experience, interest, or background in science or healthcare.

The medical industry, for example, continues to expand its use of 3D imaging to create detailed models of human anatomy based on CT scans or MRIs. Meanwhile, forensic anthropologists work with 3D modelers to restore the faces of deceased people based on CT scans of the remains, according to the Smithsonian. In addition to facial reconstruction, forensic artists at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) even use software to create “age-processed” images of missing children to help find them.


Online learning has created a new career opportunity for 3D animation or modeling graduates: virtual instruction designer. A digital clinical experience (DCE) is a virtual patient simulator that offers healthcare students the opportunity to prepare for what they might see in their careers, according to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE). SNHU health programs use some of these ELDs, including software such as Shadow Health and i-Human, which need professionals to design, develop and maintain online tutorials, interactive multimedia and distance learning courses.

This is where virtual instruction designers come in. They help people learn better by using research, design and technology to improve online instruction. This is important with the increasing use of virtual learning technologies and learning management systems, especially in business and higher education.

So how does this career path fit into a 3D animation program? Online courses and virtual training benefit from well-designed 3D animation and modeling, which help by illustrating key concepts or facilitating retention and recall.

If your dream job combines design, technology and teaching, keep an eye out for such opportunities.

Is 3D modeling a profession?

An infographic with the text BLS reports that 59% of special effects artists and animators are self-employedThe need for capable and creative graphic designers with advanced training continues to grow. The world needs digital artists and animators to help tell intriguing stories, imaginatively solve problems, and effectively illustrate solutions.

“Due to the highly competitive nature of these careers and the degree of difficulty associated with the tools and skills they entail, students interested in pursuing these careers should learn to apply these skills to a range of applications and industries. wide as possible,” Callahan said. You can create a graphic design portfolio to showcase what you’ve learned and help you get noticed by potential employers.

If the idea of ​​creating visual content using emerging technologies appeals to you, consider exploring a degree in graphic design or a 3D animation program. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design with a concentration in 3D Modeling and Animation can prepare you for a variety of existing and future career opportunities, whether in the entertainment or education industry or elsewhere.

Learn more about SNHU’s Graphic Design degree: Learn about the courses you’ll take, the skills you’ll learn, and how to request information about the program.

Sofia Tokar is a freelance writer and editor in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @stokar or log on to LinkedIn.


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