If the world of animation has captured your imagination, you might be considering a career as a Motion Graphics Designer. You might be wondering what kind of training you will need in order to find a job. While many Motion Graphics Designers have degrees in film or art, it isn’t absolutely necessary to go to college to work in motion graphics.

Degree Requirements for Motion Graphics

Many employers require bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions, and the same often goes for Motion Graphics Designers. A successful job candidate with a bachelor’s degree should be familiar with the most common types of editing and special effects software used in film and television, including Adobe’s After Effects, Animate, and Premiere Pro.

Motion Graphics Degree Programs

Many colleges and universities offer classes in aspects of motion graphics as part of art or film degrees. These are four-year schools with many other requirements for graduation. Some schools are specifically devoted to the arts, and offer classes like the following:

  • Filmmaking
  • Digital Editing
  • Cinematography
  • Documentary Filmmaking
  • 3D Animation & Visual Effects
  • Photography
  • Broadcast Journalism

Other schools give courses in special effects software as part of other degree programs, for example:

  • Art
  • Audio/Visual Communications Technology

The important thing to look for in a degree program in motion graphics is the opportunity to edit videos and compile a portfolio.

Cost of a College Degree

Not only does it take four to five years to get a bachelor’s degree, it can cost between $20,000-$100,000, depending upon the school, when you are finished. Of course, a degree includes many other classes in subjects like English, psychology, math, science, and social studies, in addition to the classes in the major area of study. A four-year college degree is a well-rounded education but it isn’t the only way to become a Motion Graphics Designer.

Careers in Motion Graphics Design

Training in motion graphics can lead to jobs in the motion picture and television industry, or in various businesses. Corporations use Motion Graphics Designers to work on company training films or commercials. Music videos are another possibility. Many businesses use videos on social media to sell products, and these businesses often contract for services.

There are some corporate jobs for Motion Graphics Designers, but many work freelance. This involves putting together a portfolio of work to show to prospective clients, and advertising on platforms like Craigslist, Angie, UpWork, or Thumbtack. Video Editors often work alone or as part of a small team, and can work long hours to meet a project deadline. The median annual salary for a Motion Graphics Designer in the United States is $77,700. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 62,400 people working as Motion Graphics Designers in the US in 2020, and the field is expected to grow quickly, with a projected increase of 16% by 2030.

It is difficult to become a Motion Graphics Designer through self-study and tutorials; taking classes is a more efficient way to gain these skills. You can choose from in-person classes at colleges or training programs, or sign up for online classes, certificate programs, and bootcamps. Some companies provide on-the-job training.

Important Qualities for Motion Graphics Designers

There are some important qualities that draw people to work as Motion Graphics Designers. People who enjoy working on their own, like technology, and have a creative bent are most likely to be successful in the field. Some other useful qualities are as follows:

  • Good communication skills - Motion Graphics Designers need to communicate clearly with their team.
  • Knowledge of computers and technology - Animation is generally edited using computer software, so familiarity with computers and digital art tools s a must.
  • Creativity - Motion Graphics Designers need an artistic sense to create good-looking graphics animation.
  • Attention to detail - Motion Graphics Designers need to pay close attention to many details to avoid inconsistencies and to ensure that the animations work.

Software Programs for Motion Graphics

Although most Motion Graphics Designers do have a college degree, it is possible to build a career in motion graphics without one. If you are planning to switch careers and want to create animations, you will need to learn to use the software. There are many tutorials out there to get you started for the different types of software, so if you are a “dig in and figure it out” type of person, you have a lot to choose from, but that may not be your best course of action.

Animation and special effects software is complicated and difficult to learn. There are many different options for animation and special effects software, including the following:

After Effects

After Effects is a video compositing and animation program from Adobe. After Effects allows an Editor to insert animations and special effects into videos during post-production. Create titles, move objects, correct color, or use an extensive library of special effects.

Cinema 4D

With Cinema 4D, an Editor can create, insert, and manipulate 3D graphics in a video. It also includes some lighting, texturing, and special effects capabilities. Cinema 4D is included in the Adobe Creative Cloud through an agreement with Maxon.


Animate is another Adobe product that creates mostly 2D animation. It can be used for characters but also to animate elements and drawings.

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya is the animation software used by Disney Studios for major animated films like “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Avatar.”


Houdini’s benefits are nodes and a procedural workflow. The nodes are pieces of stored action that can be used over and over to create effects like ruffled feathers or blowing grass. The procedural workflow is used to create smooth and dynamic effects.


Blender is a powerful animation program that does pretty much what all of the others do with one big difference. It is a free, open-source program.

Learning Motion Graphics Without Going to College

You can get started with video editing without going to college. There are schools and training programs available that offer intensive classes in software and technique. You can choose classes that meet in-person or online to learn After Effects, Animate, and other relevant software. Some people prefer to attend brick-and-mortar sessions when learning new information, but that isn’t always available. Live online classes have a similar set-up with a real-time, remote instructor who can answer questions and take control of your monitor—with permission—to show you how to do things. Training is part or full-time and available weekdays, weeknights, or weekends.

The best way to prepare for a career shift to a technical field like motion graphics is to enroll in a bootcamp or certificate program. These are intensive training courses that run for a few weeks to a few months and will cover motion graphics in much more depth than tutorials can. Another plus of training is that you will leave the class with a professional-quality portfolio of sample videos that you can show to prospective employers.

It isn’t necessary to go to college to learn motion graphics and start a new career. Check out Noble Desktop’s motion graphics classes. Choose between in-person sessions in NYC at Noble’s location or sign up for live online motion graphics courses and attend from anywhere. Use Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me to find other courses in motion graphics in your area.