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Working as a Special Effects Artist

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a special effects artist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $25.71 an hour? That's $53,485 a year!

What Does a Special Effects Artist Do

There are certain skills that many special effects artists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed artistic talent, communication skills and computer skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a special effects artist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 25.5% of special effects artists included graphic design, while 16.0% of resumes included maya, and 14.3% of resumes included special effects. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the special effects artist job title. But what industry to start with? Most special effects artists actually find jobs in the media and hospitality industries.

How To Become a Special Effects Artist

If you're interested in becoming a special effects artist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 47.8% of special effects artists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 5.0% of special effects artists have master's degrees. Even though most special effects artists have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a special effects artist. When we researched the most common majors for a special effects artist, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on special effects artist resumes include high school diploma degrees or master's degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a special effects artist. In fact, many special effects artist jobs require experience in a role such as makeup artist. Meanwhile, many special effects artists also have previous career experience in roles such as artist or internship.

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Average Salary$53,485
Job Growth Rate4%

Special Effects Artist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Special Effects Artist

Artist
9.8 %

Top Careers After Special Effects Artist

Artist
10.8 %

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Average Salary for a Special Effects Artist

Special Effects Artists in America make an average salary of $53,485 per year or $26 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $76,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $37,000 per year.
Average Salary
$53,485

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
New York, NY
Salary Range63k - 118k$87k$86,687
Redwood City, CA
Salary Range59k - 106k$80k$79,604
$59k
$118k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Special Effects & Prosthetics Makeup Artist
Special Effects & Prosthetics Makeup Artist
Sticks and Stones
Sticks and Stones
04/18/2014
04/18/2014
$42,72304/18/2014
$42,723
SR. Special Effects Artist
SR. Special Effects Artist
SONY Computer Entertainment America LLC
SONY Computer Entertainment America LLC
08/12/2013
08/12/2013
$95,23208/12/2013
$95,232
SR. Special Effects Artist
SR. Special Effects Artist
SONY Computer Entertainment America LLC.
SONY Computer Entertainment America LLC.
01/05/2011
01/05/2011
$90,00001/05/2011
$90,000
Art Sculptor and Special Effects Make-Up Artist
Art Sculptor and Special Effects Make-Up Artist
McCarthy Studio
McCarthy Studio
12/14/2010
12/14/2010
$39,61112/14/2010
$39,611
Art Sculptor and Special Effects Make-Up Artist
Art Sculptor and Special Effects Make-Up Artist
McCarthy Studio
McCarthy Studio
01/17/2008
01/17/2008
$39,61101/17/2008
$39,611
See More Recent Salaries

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Special Effects Artist Demographics

Gender

male

50.7 %

female

43.7 %

unknown

5.6 %

Ethnicity

White

51.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

22.8 %

Asian

11.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.0 %

Finnish

25.0 %

French

25.0 %
See More Demographics

Special Effects Artist Education

Majors

Animation
14.0 %
Fine Arts
14.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

47.8 %

Associate

21.7 %

High School Diploma

12.4 %
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Special Effects Artist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 25.5% of special effects artists listed graphic design on their resume, but soft skills such as artistic talent and communication skills are important as well.

Best States For a Special Effects Artist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a special effects artist. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, and New York. Special effects artists make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $93,953. Whereas in Washington and New Jersey, they would average $90,220 and $86,088, respectively. While special effects artists would only make an average of $86,024 in New York, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Arizona

Total Special Effects Artist Jobs:
84
Highest 10% Earn:
$134,000
Location Quotient:
1.73
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Mexico

Total Special Effects Artist Jobs:
33
Highest 10% Earn:
$131,000
Location Quotient:
2.16
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Washington

Total Special Effects Artist Jobs:
46
Highest 10% Earn:
$149,000
Location Quotient:
0.61
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Special Effects Artist Employers

1. McCarthy Holdings
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$68,955
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
3+
2. Milestone
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$82,421
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
2+
3. Digital Domain
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$85,101
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
2+
4. The Walt Disney Company
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$90,557
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
2+
5. Comcast
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$81,374
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
1+
6. Paramount Pictures
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$73,817
Special Effects Artists Hired: 
1+
Updated October 2, 2020