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Choosing the right animation school or program

While job growth in the animation professions will remain steady over the next decade, competition for top jobs will be hotly contested. That's why the U.S. Department of Labor recommends that newly trained job aspirants compile their own demo reel while in school. And that's the prime reason for choosing the right animation school to help launch your career.

Not all design and animation programs that are advertised offer comprehensive training in the skill sets, sophisticated software, and interdisciplinary techniques used in today's game design and entertainment industries. Some schools only offer animation courses as electives or short courses as part of a larger art or design curriculum.

If you're hoping to join the animation field, be sure to evaluate your selected programs for a combination of hands-on animation and editing training, along with coursework that leads to the creation of that all-important demo reel that shows potential employers you have the knack to create what they need.

Consider schools that have experienced teachers in state-of-the-art rendering and animation software, as well as teaching professionals that have already worked in the business -- and have industry connections. Many schools offer internships with working studios and animation labs that help you build experience as well as a long-term job network.

Visit schools and tour the labs, holding interviews with the faculty, current students, and former students who have already taken their place in the profession. Most schools will gladly provide a contact list of graduates. Ask them how the skills they learned in your prospective school translated to success in the workplace.

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