Discover what makes certain cities ideal for pursuing a career in 3D animation and the opportunities these locations offer. Learn about the role of a 3D animator, what factors make a city a good place for animators and the top cities for 3D animators in terms of job opportunities and training.

Key Insights

  • 3D Animators are creative professionals that are responsible for designing and building 3D animated models for a variety of entertainment and consumer products. They often work in the film and television industry, the video game industry, and the consumer software industry.
  • Whether a city is a good place for a 3D animation career largely depends on the number of job opportunities available, the level of salary, the existence of a strong 3D animator community, the overall artistic community and culture, and the quality of life.
  • Most 3D animation jobs are located in major cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, and Houston. These cities offer an ideal blend of job opportunities, high salaries, and vibrant artistic communities.
  • Los Angeles is home to nearly a quarter of all 3D Animator positions, largely due to its status as the center of America’s film and television industry.
  • Seattle is the second-largest city in terms of 3D animation jobs, largely due to its home to several multinational tech firms, including Microsoft and Amazon which employ a significant number of artists and animators.
  • Noble Desktop offers a wide range of motion graphics design classes that provide students with hands-on instruction guided by industry experts. Students can also consider enrolling in Noble’s Motion Graphics Certificate Program for a career-focused course.

One important consideration when deciding if you want to pursue a career in 3D animation is deciding whether or not you want to move to a new city to find work. 3D animation careers tend to be localized in a few cities, particularly those jobs within the film and television industries. Even though many 3D Animators are freelancers, they still may find that they need to relocate to places where there is demand for their services. In this article, you will learn what makes a city a good spot for 3D animation and a few of the major cities that offer the best job and training opportunities for aspiring 3D Animators.

What is a 3D Animator?

3D Animators are creative professionals responsible for designing and building 3D animated models for a wide range of different entertainment and consumer products. They are tasked with taking static images and using computer technology to give those assets the illusion of depth, weight, and motion. 3D Animators build everything from animated logos for webpages to elaborate 3D-rendered models for major Hollywood films. They also work in the consumer software industry, the video game industry, and even aspects of the entertainment industry you might not expect, like theme parks.

3D Animators are also often the professionals responsible for the thousands of minor digital alterations that go into modern film and television. Physical props and practical effects are less common, and it increasingly falls on 3D Animators to create the environments and assets that actors interact with on a film set. This means that 3D Animators are likely to find work in the film and television industry as their services are increasingly in high demand. This isn’t the only industry in which they can find work, but it is the one that is most commonly associated with 3D animation skills.

Read more about what a 3D Animator does.

What Makes a City Good for 3D Animators?

There are a few factors that will determine whether or not a city is a good place to move to start a 3D animation career. Some of these factors are generally true for most jobs, while others are unique to the field of 3D animation.

Job Opportunities

The most basic factor to consider is whether or not there are a lot of 3D animation jobs available in a given city. Nothing else about the city will matter if you can’t find employment at a 3D animation studio. This means you should consider looking for metropolitan areas with significant connections to the film and television industry or the software development industry since these are two of the largest employers of 3D animators. You’ll also want to consider the cost of living since major cities can be expensive places to live. Finally, for 3D Animators in particular, you’ll want to consider cities on the west coast. California and Washington (and their associated major metropolitan areas) are home to about half of the nation’s 3D Animator jobs, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High Salaries

At the end of the day, you will want to be sure that you find a job that pays you well enough to live comfortably. To achieve this goal, you’ll want to consider the kinds of salaries that you can expect to earn in a 3D animator position. Then, you’ll want to consider how this stacks up against the cost of living in a major metropolitan area. The two numbers tend to correlate with one another, so you’ll be paid more if you live in a city like LA or New York City, but the cost of living in these cities will be significantly higher than in a place like Des Moines. You’ll have to choose whether or not the increased price in things like rent and food is worth the increase in salary when looking at possible cities to look for work in.

Strong 3D Animator Community

Since 3D animation is a creative and collaborative field, many aspiring artists will want to ensure that the city that they move to has a thriving community of 3D Animators with whom they can work and socialize. These communities will tend to be larger in cities with larger animation industries since most animators will be living in those cities already. This has a compounding effect where the handful of cities tied to the film and television industry (and to a lesser extent, the software industry) attract more animators making the cities more appealing to other animators who move to the city to find work.

Artistic Communities and Culture

Beyond looking for cities with large communities of animators, many aspiring 3D Animators will want to consider the overall artistic community and culture that a city has for them to participate in. While most cities have artistic communities, venues, and museums, historical and social factors will play a role in shaping what those communities look like. Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and Boston all have hundreds of decades of artistic traditions to draw on, but each of those cities' artistic communities will look and feel different from one another. Aspiring 3D Animators are encouraged to consider whether or not they feel like they would gain from being a part of these communities when looking for a place to live and work.

Quality of Life

At the end of the day, your job isn’t everything, and you will want to consider whether or not you could imagine yourself happy living in any given city before moving there to find work. This is going to vary from person to person, but there are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about quality of life. If most of your family lives in New England, you may want to consider finding work in Boston or New York. However, if you never want to deal with another northeastern winter, it might be worth giving Los Angeles and San Francisco a look. No matter what personal factors are going to contribute to your happiness, you should take them seriously when considering moving for a career.

Top Cities for 3D Animators

Most 3D animation jobs are located in a handful of major cities. While many remote work and freelance jobs are available for 3D Animators, if you want to climb the ladder in the field, you will probably need to move to one of a few metropolitan areas. However, these jobs are slowly moving out of California and into other parts of the country, so you still have some options on the table if the prospect of living in LA or San Jose doesn’t appeal to you.

Los Angeles, CA

Nearly a quarter of all 3D Animator positions are located in Los Angeles. This is because LA is home to Hollywood and Burbank, placing it at the center of America’s film and television industry (so much so that when a city tries to improve its own film and television industry, it positions itself as the Hollywood of its region). Not only is LA home to major employers like Walt Disney Pictures, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros, it is also the location of some of the most important art schools in the nation, like UCLA and CalTech, making it an ideal place to find local artistic communities to join. 

Seattle, WA

While 3D animation is most commonly associated with the film and television industry, it is also very commonly employed in the commercial software, mobile application, and game design industries. Owing to this, Seattle is actually the second-largest city in terms of 3D animation jobs. Seattle is home to a significant number of multi-national tech firms, including Microsoft and Amazon, both of which employ a significant number of artists and animators to create assets for their work. Seattle is also home to a diverse array of smaller software companies that are always looking for new talent to help improve their projects.

New York, NY

As the largest economic center in the country, New York City has no shortage of career opportunities for aspiring artists, including 3D Animators. The city is home to some of the largest tech companies and media firms in the nation, making it an ideal place to find work in a wide range of different industries. New York City is home to dozens of small, independent animation studios and major media companies, including NBC Universal, Warner Bros Discovery, Dreamworks and Marvel Comics. Not only is New York City an economic powerhouse, but it is also one of the cultural hubs of the world. New York is home to major cultural institutions like Broadway and has the most museums in the nation.

Atlanta, GA

For the last two decades, Atlanta has been successfully attempting to brand itself as the Hollywood of the South. Thanks to studio-friendly tax laws, diverse natural beauty, and a few established media corporations, Atlanta has made itself an attractive destination for Hollywood studios. This means that more and more 3D animation jobs are becoming available in the state as California-based television and movie studios establish permanent locations in Georgia. Disney, AMC, and CNN all have studios headquartered in Atlanta and aside from the presence of the film industry, Atlanta is home to major corporations like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Southwest.

Houston, TX

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and it has spent the better part of the 21st century attempting to establish itself as one of the artistic capitals of the American south. Houston is the founding place of South by Southwest, one of the largest independent art festivals in the world. Outside of its thriving art scene, Houston is attempting to establish a tech industry to rival Seattle and California. Major companies, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, and McDonalds, all have set up shop in Houston, so there is no shortage of demand for web and media animators.

Why Become a 3D Animator?

3D Animation is a vibrant and attractive career path for anyone interested in working in a creative, in-demand field that blends traditional creative skills with technical knowledge. 3D Animation lets users take their creative ideas and make them into a reality using powerful computer-assisted design applications. As 3D animation tools become more powerful and more accessible, an even greater number of creatives are going to be able to enter the field and have their voices heard, making it an attractive career choice for anyone interested in collaborative projects or who are hoping to be able to eventually tell their own stories in a compelling visual medium.

Owing to the increased demand for 3D Animators, it is also a well-paying career path that offers employment opportunities in some of the most vibrant industries and locations in the country. For example, many 3D Animators will find work in the film and television industry (in cities like Los Angeles) or in the software development industry (in cities like Seattle or Houston). Not only will animators be able to find good jobs in these areas, but they will also be able to enter into local creative communities and begin the process of collaborating with others on complex and memorable animated projects. If you are a creative interested in finding a community of like-minded artists or you just want to work alongside other artists on large-scale projects, 3D animation is an ideal career path for you.

How to Find a 3D Animator Job

Once you have prepared your job materials and are comfortable with your resume and demo reel, you need to begin the process of searching for job openings that you can apply for. In the modern job market, most jobs are posted on aggregation websites to make it easier for companies to reach a mass audience. Common aggregation services include,, and LinkedIn. While narrower in scope, is a specialist job board for finding work in 2D animation, 3D animation, or storyboarding. While these webpages can seem intimidating to navigate at first, they are probably the best way to find work in the field without significant industry connections.

When looking for jobs on job boards such as these, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. The first is that the main function of these job boards is to get maximum coverage and attract as many applicants as possible. Owing to this, you will be competing with a much wider pool of applicants, meaning that your materials will need to be stronger and your search will need to be more judicious (you are unlikely to get jobs you only kind of qualify for or that you don’t align with in terms of specialty). In addition, you will need to become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the search engine and the way that employers post jobs. While searching “3D Animator” is a good first step, many jobs won’t be tagged as such, or they will be tagged as such despite not being relevant to your interests. Mastery of the search tool is vital to avoid missing potential job opportunities. Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye out for older offerings or mass-hiring listings. Many employers don’t update their listings all that frequently, so sometimes, you may find a job that sounds good only to realize too late that it has been open for a year, meaning it is likely that the job search has ended and the listing simply wasn’t updated.

Learn the Skills to Become a 3D Animator at Noble Desktop

Anyone looking to become a professional 3D Animator will need to learn how to use the tools of the trade. Applications like Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D can be difficult for new animators to learn, which is one of the reasons that guided, live instruction is so profitable for aspiring creatives. Noble Desktop offers a wide range of motion graphics design classes and these courses are available either in-person or online. These classes provide students with hands-on instruction guided by industry experts who can help students learn the ins and outs of 3D animation programs. Class sizes are limited, so even online classes are kept small, meaning students won’t have to compete for their instructor’s attention. As a bonus, every student who enrolls in a Noble Desktop training program can retake that course within a calendar year, giving them more time to develop their skills and build their demo reel.

Students looking to start a new career as a professional 3D Animator should consider enrolling in Noble’s Motion Graphics Certificate Program. This career-focused course will teach students how to animate complex 3D assets and objects using Adobe After Effects. Students will learn how Cinema 4D can be used to create and render 3D models, and students will get hands-on experience working with animated text, graphics, and both Photoshop and Illustrator files. Since this is a career-focused program, students will benefit from resources aimed to help them succeed on the job market, including one-on-one career mentorship sessions and a capstone project in which students construct their own sample demo reel to take with them onto the job market. 

Students who want to learn 3D animation skills but aren’t preparing for a shift in their career may want to enroll in a class like Noble’s Adobe After Effects Bootcamp. This course aims to provide students with hands-on training in the 2D and 3D animation tools offered through Adobe After Effects. Students will not only learn how to build 2D and 3D assets, but they will also learn how to integrate text and audio into those designs, how to transition between animation cycles, and how to work with layers to add complex lighting and the illusion of depth to a 3D asset. This course is an ideal fit for students looking to learn how to use this dynamic animation tool.

If you would like to learn more about animation as a professional and technical field, please visit the Learn Animation page on Noble’s Learn Hub.