Teaching and Education

5 Steps on How to Become an Animator in the UK

Abu Sayed Naiem
Abu Sayed Naiem

Have you ever watched a movie or played a video game and wondered, “How do they make all these characters move on the screen?” Well, it’s because of animators! So, are you curious about how to become an animator in the UK? If you’re interested in becoming an animator in the UK, you’re in the right spot. This journey is all about creativity, storytelling, and bringing characters to life on the screen.

In this guide, we’ll show you the key steps to turn your dream of becoming a UK animator into reality.

Let’s get started without further adieu.

Young woman working in an animation studio

What is an Animator?

An animator is a person who makes things move in pictures. They create cartoons, video game characters, and special effects in movies. Animators bring still images to life by making them —

  • wiggle,
  • jump,
  • and talk on your screen.

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What Does an Animator Do?

An animator is like an artist who uses technology (multimedia) to create moving images. To do this job, you have to draw and design pictures and then use special computer animator programs (animation technology and software) to make those pictures move.

There are many different ways to do this, like the old-fashioned way of drawing everything by hand for classic films or using 3D art for video games and digital stuff. Most of the time, animators have learned how to do art, and they use their drawing or sculpting skills regularly.

What are the Duties of an Animator?

Let’s explore the duties of an animator in the following:

  • Making Pictures Move: An animator’s main job is to make pictures that, when shown one after the other, look like they’re moving. These moving pictures are used in things like cartoons and video games.
  • Planning with Pictures: Animators also create what we call “storyboards.” Think of these like visual blueprints that help the team understand how the animation should look and work. They can also design backgrounds for characters in games or avatars.
  • Working Together: Most animators don’t work by themselves. They’re part of a creative team. They team up with others to make ideas come to life. But sometimes, this depends on the job you have.
  • Many Possibilities: Animation isn’t just for cartoons. You can find animators in different industries like TV, movies, fashion, ads, and games. So, if you become an animator, you can explore various exciting career paths.

Young woman working in an animation studio

Steps on How to Become an Animator in the UK

So, how to be an animator in the UK? To start a successful animation career, you need to really love animation and have a big passion for art. Think about what you want in your career and check out the different ways you can become an animator. There are some usual ways to become one.

As per animator qualifications, you can follow the below paths:

  • Going to university.
  • Attending college.
  • Doing an apprenticeship.
  • Working your way up.
  • Taking special training courses.


For university, you can do a foundation degree, a higher national diploma, or a degree in subjects like:

  • Animation.
  • Art and design.
  • Computer games development.
  • Animation production.
  • Visual effects.

Typically, you can achieve a bachelor’s degree in animation within three to four years. Before you finish a more advanced course in animation, like a master’s degree, think about what part of animation you want to focus on. It’s a good idea to pick a course that teaches you practical skills and gives you a chance to work in the field.

To get in, you usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels or something similar for a foundation degree or higher national diploma.
  • 2 to 3 A levels or something similar for a degree.

Cropped view of the animator in headphones using a digital tablet


You can go to college and take a course to learn the skills for becoming an animator. The courses you can take are:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Animation, Games, and VFX Skills.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Creative Art and Design.

To get in, you usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs with grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or something similar, for a level 3 course.

Gain Animation Work Experience

As an undergraduate, you can get a taste of the animation world by working in beginner-level animation jobs and moving up. Usually, students apply for internships, but you don’t always have to be in education to do this. The things you learn during these job experiences are helpful for your future as an animator. It makes your resume look better and helps you make contacts in the industry you like.


You can also start in this field through a Higher animation apprenticeship in the UK. These include options like:

  • Junior Animator at Level 4.
  • Junior VFX Animation Artist or Assistant Technical Director at Level 4.
  • Storyboard Artist at Level 7.

To get in, you usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs with grades 9 to 4 (meaning A* to C) and A levels, or something similar, for a higher or degree apprenticeship.

You can begin your journey by working as an animation runner and then progress to roles like digital painter, assistant animator, or animator.


Volunteering is when you work without pay. Employers really like it when you have experience, so it’s a good idea to get as much as you can. To find work experience or volunteer opportunities, you can get in touch with:

  • Broadcasting companies (places that show TV and radio programs).
  • Advertising agencies (companies that make ads).
  • Animation studios (where they create animations).
  • Computer game companies (the people who make video games).

Young male game developer using modern software to design the interface

Pursue a Graduate Program

If you’re doing animation work or are in college, you might discover you’re really good at one part of animation. If you want to become an expert in that area, you can apply for a graduate program or master’s course. This will teach you advanced skills for high-level animation jobs. In these senior roles, you might get:

  • More money.
  • Better chances to connect with important people.
  • Experience in managing projects.
  • Working with other top experts in the field.
  • Opportunities to learn from experienced mentors.

Create a Portfolio

Making a portfolio is important in many creative jobs. A portfolio is like a collection of your work. In your portfolio, you should include animations you made in school, college, or as a freelancer. It could be stuff you made for competitions, too.

Portfolios for animation can be different, like video clips or digital art. Make sure to keep updating your portfolio with new work to show your skills. Some jobs might want you to not only show your portfolio but also make something new just for the job. However, this can change depending on the job.

Additional Skills

Here are the skills and knowledge you’ll need:

  • Understanding media production and communication.
  • Knowing about design.
  • Being really careful and paying attention to small things.
  • Good thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Using your own ideas and starting things on your own.
  • Working well with your hands.
  • Being okay with changes and being flexible.
  • Knowing about fine arts.
  • Being comfortable using a computer and important software.

Close-up of a person working on animation project

Different Types of Animators

To become a specialist animator in a particular style, you should really understand that style and create your unique signature within it. There are five main types of animation.

2D and 3D

  • 2D is like drawing on a flat surface.
  • 3D is sculpting designs digitally for a 360-degree look.
  • 3D animators make 3D models move realistically.

Motion Graphics

  • It’s often used for text and logos.
  • Motion graphic specialists work on ads or multimedia projects.


  • Traditional hand-drawn animation.
  • Requires drawing many images by hand and putting them together frame by frame.

Stop Motion

  • Involves moving physical models instead of drawings.
  • Uses things like clay models, puppets, or cut-outs.
  • Historically used for special effects in films.

These styles differ, and each has its unique approach. Understanding them well can help you specialise in the one you like most.

Important Qualities for Animators

Here are some important qualities for animators. Remember, you can grow these qualities over time:

  • Knowing how to use animation and editing software.
  • Loving to tell stories through animation.
  • Being really good at managing your time and staying organised.
  • Working well with a team.
  • Understanding gaming systems and platforms.

Young woman working in an animation studio

Ways to Develop Your Animation Skills

To become a competitive and employable animator, you need to develop your animation skills. Here’s how

Stay Updated

  • Read industry news.
  • Subscribe to newsletters to know about new tech and updates before others.
  • Attend industry events to meet fellow animators and potential employers.

Follow Pros

  • Use social media to follow experienced animators.
  • Learn from their careers and unique job opportunities.

Find a Mentor

  • Join a mentorship program or reach out to a senior animator.
  • They can give you valuable insights and help you improve your skills.

Work on Soft Skills

  • Besides technical skills, practice soft skills like listening and communicating.
  • Take time to reflect on your work and improve how you work with others.

Average Salary of an Animator

So, how much do animators make? An average animator makes around £44,094 a year. However, the animators’ salary can be different depending on the kind of animator job. For example, 2D animation jobs in the UK typically help you earn about £27,552 per year, while 3D animation jobs help you earn about £37,166 each year. Your location and how long you’ve been working as an animator can also change how much you get paid.

Wrapping Up

To sum it up, becoming an animator is an exciting adventure where you can be creative and tell stories. If you’re dedicated and follow the right steps, you can make your dream of becoming an animator come true. So, remember that “How to Become an Animator?” is more than just a question; it’s a journey you can explore. Jump in, improve your job skills, and let your imagination soar because the world of animation is yours to master.


How long does it take to become an animator?

It usually takes 3-4 years for a bachelor’s degree to become an animator, but it might take longer if you want to learn more. How fast you become an animator depends on what you choose and how hard you work.

How to learn animation?

To learn animation, begin with animation courses, practise a lot, and create a portfolio to display your work. Online tutorials and books can be helpful for improving your skills, too.

What is 3D animation?

3D animation is a way to make pictures appear three-dimensional, creating depth and realism in movies, video games, and other media.

What skills do I need to gather for animation jobs that pay well without a degree in the UK?

To do well in good-paying jobs without a degree in the UK, get really good at using animation software, be creative, and learn how to solve problems effectively.

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Abu Sayed Naiem