+ CAREERS IN JAPAN: Animation +

While thousands of anime, j-pop and game nerds proclaim their intention to "grow up and work for a Japanese company", most of them never make it past the checkout counter at the local grocery store. Why? What does it take to get the job of your dreams? Does the job of your dreams even exist? Can you live on the pay? Will you be prepared to go out and get it when the time comes?

Job Profile #2. The Animator

Live your dream of working in Korea or the USA!! (wait, what?!) Use your own time and money to build a portfolio of short films and winning accolades to get your butt hired in the first place!!

Demand: (in Japan/Korea) Nonexistant, why sponsor a visa for a foreigner to do a job in which their "foreignness" brings nothing to the table? Seriously... you're farther ahead trying to become a geisha. (in the USA) Fairly high, as long as you know your way around a computer and have some background in CG both the gaming industry and big animation studios are currently on the hunt for new talent.

Longevity: If you specialize in traditional animation, you've got until whenever you are replaced by a computer... Traditional 2-D animation is troubled, nearly all of it is currently outsourced to North and South Korea due to cheap production and labor costs. If you have a solid background in computer animation, you can probably find a good long-term career for yourself in the States without too much hassle.

Average Pay: USD $20,000 - 35,000 a year (up to $80,000 for those in the same position for over 10 years)

Workplace: Animation Studio (at a desk or computer most of the time)

Requirements - If you have talent, you can get a job in the field based only on your portfolio but art school certainly helps. If you want any sort of job security - you'd probably better have a background in CG and computer animation. If you want any chance of working in this field in Japan, you will need to excel in your field in the US first, master the Japanese language and then somehow convince a company to take you on in a higher-level position (as a key animator or animation director).

Breakdown: You probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than finding an entry-level job in Japan in the field of animation. Job searches I've run in both languages yeilded no results of available positions and I've yet to meet (or hear about) someone who has actually gotten an animation job in Japan. A quick glance at the credit reel for most Japanese animation seems to imply that most Japanese animation jobs have more or less dried up and blown off to Korea. This is a pipe dream... there are certainly viable ways for foreigners to get involved with the Japanese animation industry -- but this isn't one of them

How you can prepare: If you're still determined to pursue this particular career goal - you should start studying Japanese immediately. You will most certainly need to be fluent before gaining any sort of position of merit in any primarily Japanese-speaking workplace. In the meantime, start thinking about a porfolio. A good art school will take you quite far, both in developing your portfolio and in training you in the use of tools and methods specific to your area of interest. Applying to an animation trade school in Japan (attended part time while working another job in Japan for which you have a suitable visa) MAY result in you making the contacts you need to get a position in the field in the future. Be willing to settle for a job in the United States if it doesn't work out (because it probably won't).

One Last Shot: There are a variety of short indie contests in Japan for which the prizes are field internships, money, and general all-around prestige. If you can learn enough Japanese to enter a Japanese-language film and have enough artistic ability to win ~ you may just be able to get your foot in the door.


Animator Career Description (Sessions School of Design): Animator/ Cartoonist Career Job Descriptions - Graphic Design Careers - Sessions

Animation Toolworks Library: Animation Toolworks' Library - Who

US Job Listings - getthejob.com:
Animator jobs - GetTheJob.com

AJA - The Association of Japanese Animation

AJA Sponsored "Animator Project", in which 11 independant animators will be awarded with internships --
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Best of luck!!

Up next - #3 ~ The Voice Actor