Animation building blocks - starting your career in animation

Follow the steps outlined below to improve your chances of getting your first job in animation and learn about starting work successfully. You can also download this information as a PDF: Animation Building Blocks.

Animation building blocks - starting your career in animation

If you are interested in getting your first job in the animation industry there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a foot in the door. There are also tips to help you get on once you have secured a job in the exciting, varied and high-pressure world of production.

Starting your animation career can be daunting, but once you have a good plan in place it will be easier to apply for a job and start work in the best possible way.

In short this looks as follows:


Understanding who you are as a professional, and who you want to be, is the foundation of setting clear career goals. Giving yourself an honest audit of what you have to offer a new employer, will set out a definitive path which you can use to confidently grow as an animation professional.

Download our animation career map for more information on the entry level roles which will get you a foot in the door of the industry.

Creating a career plan
A few things to think about when creating a career plan are:

  • visualising your future professional self (e.g. career objectives, personal mission, capability, accountability)
  • assessing your current experiences, skills and USP (e.g. skills gaps analysis, career anchors, unique sales proposition, attitude)
  • thinking about your values and passions (e.g. elevator pitch, passions, personal values)
  • analysing your ideal employer, from their mission to their creative content (e.g. quota, progression, contract terms, content creation)
  • determining a SMART goal and benchmarks to measure your success (e.g. schedule plan, set benchmarks and SMART goal)
  • reviewing who you are right now (e.g. role models, showreel, CV, social media presence)

Additionally, it’s worth exploring the differences between working as a freelancer, entering the industry as an apprentice and getting hired as a PAYE employee. Finally, networking and mentoring support can help you create a clearer long term plan.


Creating valuable career collateral is essential in securing your new animation job. But remember, a hiring manager may not be a creative, so you must provide a three-dimensional view of your professional power. A beautifully crafted showreel and/or portfolio, a strong CV, targeted cover letter, powerful social media presence, and confidence at interview, is the ideal combination.

Your desired job:
When you have found a job role that interests you can ask yourself:

  • about the company, its values and content
  • what kind of skills, attitude and capability the company is looking for
  • what contract type, contract duration and quota the company offers.

Your CV
You need to make sure your CV highlights your skills in the right way. It should be:

  • plain format, no graphics, columns or fancy fonts
  • optimise content to fill the employer's need
  • demonstrate your unique value – why you?
  • highlight your transferable skills
  • link to your reel and/or portfolio on page one
  • use a features and benefit style – how can you help them?

Your reel/portfolio
Your reel or portfolio should showcase what you can do. It should be:

  • no more than two minutes
  • start with your best and finish with you second best work
  • showcase your strengths. Technique outweighs originality
  • demo the 12 principles where possible, but highlight your best bits

Don’t take credit for someone else’s work and check your NDAs and always contextualise your input.

Your confident interview:
To come across confident in your interview, you should:

  • do your research and prepare to pitch yourself
  • use real examples of how you work
  • ask relevant questions and show your enthusiasm
  • be professional and respectful
  • test your technology if the interview is virtual
  • always follow up


It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get swept away in the excitement of your new job. Never agree to work without knowing how much you’ll be paid, when you’ll be paid, and what you’re expected to do for the money. Expect a formalised induction which outlines the company, the who, what, and why of your job; and introduces you to critical contacts. Be both respectful, yet confident. If you’re unsure of anything – ask.

A few things you can expect when you start a new job are:

  • contract: should include a start date, pay and rewards details, working hours, contract length, information on holiday, sick leave and your notice period
  • induction: introduction to the company and your manager, hardware and software set-up, quota and ways of working
  • expectations: your availability, quality of work, quantity of output, communication and professionalism
  • assert: your strengths, how to best communicate, any challenges you are facing
  • respect: people’s time, client demands, onboarding process and your colleagues
  • connect: to a ‘buddy’, your manager, your team, the pipeline

Download this information

"Animation building blocks - starting your career in animation" is available as a PDF