View Full Version : SALARIES and OUTSOURCING in the CG field

02-20-2004, 04:02 AM

I just joined this forum, and Im currently a 3rd year student at Cal state fullerton.

I want to get into the CG/3D animation field, but I have gotten very mixed answers as to HOW MUCH exactly to cg artists get payed.

I am well aware that it depends on the field and area of concentration, ...

I am most interested in feature films and video games, and modeling, as well as maybe some animation...

My question is, how much does the starting cg artist make (with a 4 year degree).... and does a 4 year degree even matter???

What is the average salary for a person who has been in the field for many years, and what about the salaries for people who have a masters degree in a CG related field?.

I pretty much taught myself webdesign and graphic design, and im pretty good at it, but the pay seemed crappy, and CG seemed more interesting (and promising).

Also, what are the chances that high-end CG work could be outsourced to places like India, much like what is happening in the IT and programming fields???

Thanks alot. I am pretty clueless about all of this.

02-21-2004, 05:09 PM
Starting salary for an artist with a very good demo reel is around $36,500-$42,500. This depends on your skill as an artist and technician, and on the company's size and culture.

The degree doesn't matter when starting off. Just the reel. The degree matters when you're experienced enough to apply for upper management positions. Even then, that's not so much the case at present.

However, having a post-secondary education helps you to add more to your art, and to think more critically. In other words, you're more apt to do work that isn't simply rehashing other's ideas. You're better able to come up with your own ideas, and that will better inform your work.

Eventually, as more and more artists enter the workforce with degrees, the degree WILL become increasingly more important as time goes by. Especially for publicly-held companies.

As for outsourcing, that has been happening for the last three years. India and other countries have been opening up tons of CG houses, which will make them more cost-effective to use than U.S. houses in the short run.

jin choung
02-22-2004, 01:01 AM
4 year education is important just for yourself - as a person.... if you can afford it, soak in the experience, develop as a human being and enjoy your youth - for one day, you'll wake up in front of lw or maya and realize that you're eighty. seriously, once you get into the work force, your life goes away and years disappear.

it's not hugely important to the industry if you have a B.A. if you can kick ***. most people can care less if you went to college... this isn't accounting.

but if you suck, every bullet on your resume counts i guess.

don't worry about outsourcing. worry about being good. if you're good, you won't starve.

outsourcing to india (china, korea, etc etc to follow) is gonna be F'ing HUUUUUUUUUUGE.

heck, digital domain has an india shop now i think.

but don't worry about it. you can't do diddly crap about it. and if you got most of your limbs, pulling shifts at the micky dees will pay the rent in a pinch.

outsourcing in general is gonna syphon boatloads of jobs out of the u.s. but no worries mate.... people are SOOOOOoooooooo worried about this - but WHAT CAN HAPPEN?! WHAT CAN POSSIBLY HAPPEN?! we're not gonna die of starvation! (we'll have invaded quebec long before that! they still haven't found the WMDs after all... never can be too sure....) sure, outsourcing allows us to buy xboxs for cheap but things ain't gonna be so hunky dori in the world if american consumers are so unemployed that they stop buying.

hey, and if america goes under, we have the comfort of knowing that we're takin' everybody with us (global economy eh?)....

systems seek EQUILIBRIUM... we're seeing a period of rebalancing.... it'll work itself out. but that's besides the point.

so again, be good and you won't starve, mcd's in a pinch. right?

oh, and don't worry about competition either. there's a lot of unbelievably talented people out there - scary talented - dishearteningly, discouragingly - talented. and there are also a lot of incompetent sucks - the suckiest sucks that ever sucked. but one quality that they both share is that unless you're gonna go postal, there's nothing you can do about either of them.

so don't think about it. it's not your concern. just be good. don't suck. no starve. no suck, no starve.

oh, and finally - when you get into working, be professional, strong work ethic, reliable.

that, along with a strong predilection toward not sucking will be the road to wealth, happiness and nirvana.

there's a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT to learn... craploads.... scripting and experience programming will help too... lots of cinematic principles that will help, lots of TECHNOLOGY of 3d stuff coming up annually to keep up on. use the time in school to get up to speed and stay up to speed. be a sponge and learn to love learning... also, college is great for figuring out how best you learn - that is truly invaluable.

magazines are a good way to see what the 3d zeitgeist is... highly reccommend that you keep up with cinefex, game magazines, 3d graphics publications as well as websites.



p.s. don't suck

02-22-2004, 04:36 AM
Yeah... What Jin Said.

Degree? Wotz a degree? Admittedly, I'm in the games industry, where we can get away with murder, but I can tell you that when a showreel comes in, it isn't the education that we look at, it's the graphics.

The thing that is most likely to appeal, is when people take the time to actually read the job specs & tailor their CV to suit.

The current starting wages here in the UK for comparison, are a little lower than in the US, around 17 - 20k ($30k ish). Rising to maybe 35 - 40k ($64k ish) for someone with a few years experience. In the States, that same person, working in Games might earn $90k (but afaik - that's danger money for having to move to the USA).

I think the Figures quoted by Digi... are probably for the top few percent of new starters. The wages in this field are pretty fluid - and skill dependant.

02-23-2004, 12:22 PM
Thanks for the replies guys.

I was quite shocked as to the starting salaries of CG guys.

One would think that with the amount of skill and technical expertise that is needed within this field (as well as the billions of $$$ that are made within the movie and video game industry), the starting pay would be alot more.

Right now its really crappy.

As far as outsourcing, would that apply more to low-level animation (like commercials, etc), or would it also apply to big-budget feature films???

02-23-2004, 08:14 PM
Hmm.... You think $36k or so is a bad wage for someone who may be on his first job after college? How much does McDonalds pay these days?

It beats the wages I was on a few years back when I was responsible for peoples lives doing aircraft maintenance. IMO I needed much more skill & technical expertise to do that job.

jin choung
02-23-2004, 09:44 PM

you think that's LOW?!

if you want to do cg as a living, you'll likely be begging for a job that pays even less initially.... and if the outsourcing continues, MUCH LESS.

also, the higher pay stuff goes to people who do craploads of programming, animation and TECHNICAL DIRECTORS.... the very very technical stuff.

don't kid yourself... cg isn't that hard. there are junior high school kids who can blow lots of us away over a weekend. and that situation is only gonna get worse. god bless the little [email protected]@rds.

there are indeed lots of people who are a lot more skilled and do more of more significance that get paid significantly less.

if you're in it for the money, better bone up on your programming - or your day trading skills.


p.s. oh, as for the outsourcing, it hasn't really started en masse yet so it's hard to tell but if it happens at all, it's as likely to start with big movie work as not.

02-26-2004, 03:21 PM

Jin you are the man! Everytime I ready something you write. I fall out of my chair laughing. I started reading this thread and the first thing that got me was the way college friend spelled PAYED vs Paid and I say Jin will fix.

P.S. What Jin said good luck, follow your bless....J. Cambell. No bills money isnt everything. (i.e. the starving artist.)

02-28-2004, 06:11 PM
Well Well,
I was just reading my copy of GAME DEVELOPER Febuary 2004 issue last week and a "salary survey" article.
The numbers for ART & Animation
ANIMATOR salary per year:<2yrs experience $48,304 2-5 years $53,636 6+ years $63,636.

Now granted theses are averages for the gaming industry. They also show that 20% of the peeps in the industry have <2 years experience, 43% have 2-5 years experience and 37% 4+ years experience. They also talked about how many game artists (modelers & texture artists) go on to the movie industry. OH ya...also noted was the 72% receiving additional compensation....hmmmm stock options?401k?compleation bonuses?free copy of the game?

It looks like the game industry is not the once small niche market. Games industry as a whole is taking in revenues compairable to the movie industry! $$$

Have fun!

btw I just got out of a local community college and I do not think I'll spend the money on a 4yr in the field, too little time too old ;>)

ok jin choung your mind sounds like mine...are you my un-identicle twin?

02-29-2004, 11:25 AM
The market is flooding w/ artists. Heck, I'm already showing my 9 year old how to model w/subD's. :D
That's funny Jin. "Just don't suck." Instead of "Just do it." :p