Are you considering a career in the VFX industry? Or maybe you’re about to graduate? Unsure of what to expect salary-wise? Don’t worry, we asked the hard questions, and have you covered. Read on to explore a few different career options and approximately how much you can expect to make in the VFX industry. The salaries below are based on entry-level averages you can expect to make at the beginning of your VFX career.
What exactly is VFX?
Visual effects use elements of technology and CGI to create moving visuals; the imagery is then manipulated to create realistic elements and environments. Many VFX skills are transferable which allows for more career opportunities within the industry.
What do VFX artists do?
VFX artists need to have a creative eye while also having a technical understanding of the numerous tools used in this industry. While the details of every VFX job will differ depending on the project and size of the company the artist is working for, there are some general responsibilities that are shared among each artist. Some of the most common duties include;
- Creating visual effects, motion graphics and animations
- Brainstorming with other artists and designers
- Developing and optimizing workflows
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary in 2018 for multimedia artists is $72,520 USD.
Motion graphics artists
By taking graphic design to the next level, motion graphic artists are tasked with creating animated 2D and 3D images by bringing graphics to life. They are responsible for the creative process at different stages, for example conceptualization, storyboarding, animating, editing and much more. A basic knowledge of graphics and design is crucial for a future in motion graphics design.
Entry-level salary: $45,000 USD
Better known as a jack of all trades, the 3D generalist is responsible for anything to do with 3D. More specifically, they may work on any and every task from modeling to animation to rendering. Being able to juggle multiple tasks at once is one of the key skills of being a successful 3D generalist.
Entry-level salary: $53,000 USD
With the help of animation software, these animators are in charge of developing, designing and creating characters. By using tools such as Maya, animators can manipulate the characters to interact in digital environments. They often work closely with sound engineers to ensure the characters are working in harmony with character audio and sound effects.
Entry-level salary: $56,000 USD
At the end of the VFX process, the compositor comes in to piece together the final elements of a project. Compositors receive multiple elements, which include special effects, rendered animation, graphics, 2D animation and they oversee the combining of all the elements. Having a strong attention to detail and understanding the CG process are important elements of being a compositor.
Entry-level salary: $42,000 USD
If you’re still unsure of what type of position you’d like to work in, check out this career map created by ScreenSkills, which depicts all the different routes you can take with a career in VFX.
The bottom line
Salary is often a taboo subject, even though it shouldn’t be. It’s important to do your research and be prepared before considering a potential career in any specific industry. Whether you’re a student who’s interested in VFX, or someone who’s looking for a career change, there are many options and transferrable skills that will allow you to explore various career options in VFX. For more tips regarding salary and understanding how to negotiate your ideal income, check out these candid tips from the Bardel recruitment team.
 Multimedia Artists and Animators: Occupational Outlook Handbook: (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm.
 Salary: Motion Graphic Designer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/motion-graphic-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,23.htm
 Salary: 3D Generalist. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/3d-generalist-salary-SRCH_KO0,13.htm.
 Salary: Character Animator. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/character-animator-salary-SRCH_KO0,18.htm.
 Average Compositor Hourly Pay. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Compositor/Hourly_Rate.
r/VFX Anonymous Wage Survey. (2019, July 10). Retrieved from https://www.visualeffects.ninja/.