School of Motion

How Much Does the Average Motion Designer Make?

  • By Joe Camarata
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So you're curious about the average motion graphics designer salary? Well my friend, you've come to the right place.

From storytelling to animation, the motion graphics industry is, in our opinion, the most exciting industry in the world. Like most artistic disciplines, professional motion designers know that Motion Design is ultimately not about the money, it's about creating meaningful work.
As a result, you must have the will, passion, and determination to see projects to completion even when times get tough. But with enough hard work (and a lot of Red Bull) you'll get there!
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So, you want to be a Motion Designer?
Motion Designers are problem solvers who use their artistic skills to tell stories through animation and design. Motion Design is everywhere and the industry is growing year after year. Motion Designers are more than animators. They're storytellers with skills that go far beyond a single application or artistic discipline. If you want to learn more about the industry we highly recommend that you poke around our site here at School of Motion. We also have a free 10-day crash course that will show you what the motion design industry is like.
Now to the question at hand...

Average Motion Design Salary: $62,000 a Year

According to our 2017 poll featuring 1300 active motion designers, the overall average Motion Design salary is $62,000 a year, and the average freelance motion designer salary is $65,000 a year. Freelance means a motion designer booked contract gigs with clients or studios rather than working full-time for a single company.
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Salaries generally range from $40K to $83K per year, but these salaries can obviously be higher or lower depending on your experience in the industry. The longer you're in the industry the more money you typically make. And if you own your own studio the sky's the limit.
One of the challenges with mapping out a Motion Design salary is the simple fact that so many people in our industry pull the majority of their income from freelance projects. Motion Designers are small business owners, and most of these businesses only have one employee, you.

3 Cities with the Best Salaries for Motion Designers

Location plays a big role when it comes to in-house salaries. Obviously cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York pay more than the average city for motion graphics designers. Here's a quick breakdown of what you can expect in these locations:

San Francisco

  • Average Salary: $85K per year
  • Salary Range: $56K to $147K per year
  • Median Household Income: $92K per year
  • Median House/Condo Value: $941K
  • Median Gross Rent: $1,600 per month
The average salary for motion designers in San Francisco is $85,000 a year. This is undoubtedly due to the high cost of living and demand for Motion Designers in the tech industry. New technological achievements have made it possible for Motion Designers to work on UI/UX projects without writing a single line of code. We strongly believe that the motion design industry in San Francisco will only continue to grow over the next few years.

Los Angeles

  • Average Salary: $64K per year
  • Salary Range: $47K to $81K per year
  • Median Household Income: $52K per year
  • Median House/Condo Value: $542K
  • Median Gross Rent: $1,200 per month
The average salary for motion designers in Los Angeles is $64,000 a year. However, 'salary' might be a funny way to describe the MoGraph scene in Los Angeles as a lot of work is contract-driven through the use of freelance labor.
As you might have guessed, many of the most popular motion design studios in the world have a presence in Los Angeles including Buck, We are Royale, and Gentleman Scholar. Studios will often commission artists to work in-office for a short period of time as projects arise. As a result, many artists in Los Angeles find work through making good connections and staying ready for upcoming projects. Los Angeles also has fantastic tacos, which is really important.

New York City

  • Average Salary: $64K per year
  • Salary Range: $44K to $96K per year
  • Median Household Income: $56K per year
  • Median House/Condo Value: $538K
  • Median Gross Rent: $1,300 per month
The average motion designer salary in New York City is $64,000 a year. New York City is an incredible hub for Motion Design work, from tech gigs to advertising agencies there is a healthy balance of freelance contract-gigs and full-time jobs in NYC. New York is home to many mograph meetups and events. However, similar to the two other cities above, the cost of living in New York can be prohibitive to newer artists. But a little ramen never hurt nobody...

Do I Need to Live in a Big City to be a Motion Designer?

No, you do not need to be in a big city to be a motion designer. As tools continue to make collaboration easier, it is becoming increasingly easy for Motion Designers to live anywhere they want. Some of the best artists in our industry live in rural areas. That being said, big cities do offer you the opportunity to meet with fellow artists in-person and show up to in-house gigs. If you have the chance to live in a bigger city do it, but if that is an impossibility for you don't sweat it!

Skills that can Effect Motion Design Salary

There are also quite a few skills that can help you become more marketable as a Motion Designer. In fact, if you're curious about what skills you need to have to get hired as a motion designer just read some Motion Design job postings. However, to make it a little easier for you I created a list of a few skills that can positively affect your Motion Design salary.
Keep in mind that when it comes to becoming a great motion designer it is less about knowing an application and far more about understanding the core-concepts behind visual storytelling. Motion Designers are more than 'After Effects Artists'.
While the skills above do look nice on a resume, it's essential that you actually have an eye for design, animation, and storytelling if you want to set yourself apart. A killer portfolio and demo reel is more important than an impressive resume. It is also very important to be friendly and a good person to collaborate with, nobody wants to team up with a negative nancy.

Do I Need a College Degree to Be a Motion Designer?

No, you do NOT need to go to college to be a motion designer. An expensive degree is worth little value compared to a killer portfolio and demo reel. We've written pretty extensively on the subject here at School of Motion. While there is certainly some value in obtaining a degree for Motion Design, we do not believe that a degree is worth the price of tuition.

How Much Experience do you Need to become a Motion Designer?

If you stopped reading this article right now and worked very hard on your skills, we believe that you can make enough money to live as a freelance motion designer in less than a year.
In the chart below you'll see a graph of industry trends for Motion Designer salaries based off experience from PayScale. As you can see, the longer you're in the industry the more money you can make.
It should also be noted that the motion design industry is still new and always evolving. A 'motion design' job from 20 years ago looks completely different than a motion design job today. Also, the data below can be a little confusing as many motion designers move into art director, creative director, producer, or owner roles later in their career.
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Graph of industry trends for Motion Designer salaries based off experience from PayScale.

How to Start a Career as a Motion Designer

Do you want to become a motion graphics designer? Well, you're in the right place. If you don't have any experience we highly recommend that you check out The Path to MoGraph here on School of Motion. The free 10-day course is an introduction into the motion design industry complete with interviews with mograph (as the cool kids say) celebrities and real-world project breakdowns.
Once you're ready to get serious about growing your skills in motion design, check our our courses where you'll find some incredible courses taught by some of the world's best motion design educators. School of Motion course alumni make an average of 14% more than the median Motion Designer.
We hope this article has been helpful. Now go out there and make something awesome!