What is it like to work as a 3d modeler?

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  01 January 2017
What is it like to work as a 3d modeler?

Hi! I am planning to apply to a university/college in Canada next year, and currently interested in becoming a 3d modeller or a 3d animator. I asked my friends and read some threads about this topic, but a lot of people said that it's not a good career. So I would really appreciate to know the opinions of you guys who had experience in this career.
- How about your working hours? Some people said that it is normal for this career to have 12-16 working hours. I understand that sometimes when the deadline is coming close, we have to work extra hours to complete the project, but it can't be frequent, right? Do you still have time to hang around with friends and time for your family?
- What's your salary? Is it possible to earn 40 000$ a year? According to Payscale, 3d modeler can earn from 45 000$ to 72 000$, but some people said it's unrealistic. If we are good enough, can we get higher salary?
- People said that it's hard to get long term contract. Is it true?
- How about the job market in Canada (or in other countries)? Is it really competitive to get a job? People said that even a modeler with amazing portfolio could have hard time getting a job. But I think there should be high demand considering the wide application of 3d (furniture, game, advertisement, film, 3d printing..)?
- I read that it's hard for international student to be hired due to the tax (or something like that). So has any international student here gotten a job in this field after grad in Canada? How do you get your first job? If possible, can I see your reel?
And finally, do you feel happy with this career? Do you think this is a good job? Do you regret choosing it and why?
Thank you so much
 
  09 September 2017
salary depends on experience and the company you work for.
I think 40k is pretty reasonable.
everything in art is hard to get long term.
that is the nature of art. Art is a project based business.  once a project is over.. it's normal to have to look for a new project elsewhere.

Also about money I've heard that big name studios do pay very high.  70-140k salaries..  
but were talking top industry talent at companies like ILM pixar etc.
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-Tomi
portfolio: TOMIAJAYI.com
 
  09 September 2017
- How about your working hours? Some people said that it is normal for this career to have 12-16 working hours. I understand that sometimes when the deadline is coming close, we have to work extra hours to complete the project, but it can't be frequent, right? Do you still have time to hang around with friends and time for your family?
normally you work from 9 to 6, eventually there's crunch time, where you may have to do some extra hours, which in Canada, are payed on top of your salary. Of course there's time for friends and family

- What's your salary? Is it possible to earn 40 000$ a year?
Yes, obviously depends on experience and company, but 40k is a pretty low salary as far as I know.

- People said that it's hard to get long term contract. Is it true? 
Again, depends on the type of job, company and demand, difficult to say, but don't expect a long contract on your first jobs

- How about the job market in Canada (or in other countries)? Is it really competitive to get a job? People said that even a modeler with amazing portfolio could have hard time getting a job. But I think there should be high demand considering the wide application of 3d (furniture, game, advertisement, film, 3d printing..)?
There's quite a lot of demand for 3d artists right now, but this may always change

- I read that it's hard for international student to be hired due to the tax (or something like that). So has any international student here gotten a job in this field after grad in Canada? How do you get your first job? If possible, can I see your reel?
International artists need a visa/work permit to work in Canada, which must be sponsored by the company, so unless they are in real need of unexperienced artists, is probably hard to get a first job, unless you have some open work permit that allows you to already work there. I got my first job en Europe many years ago

-And finally, do you feel happy with this career? Do you think this is a good job? Do you regret choosing it and why?
Like anything, it depends on many factors. You may work at a place where they don't treat people well or you may work at a place that is amazing. People in this industry tend to be in cos they love doing what they do, not cos they may get rich. There are good days and bad days, like in any other industry...

hope that helps
 
  01 January 2018
When I was a student, I did not think about how much I would receive money.
And when I graduated from university, I was least worried about my salary.
The most important thing in life - is that there is an interest in the work and that you aspire to become the best in the industry.
 
  03 March 2018
Interesting to know how it is as a job. Was contemplating on getting this before as a career but I decided not to. Just use it as a hobby now.
 
  03 March 2018
- How about your working hours? 

A good studio prides itself on successfully managing its employees time.  Most work weeks average between 40 and 50 hours a week.  However, when projects have changes or surprises, you are expected to buckle down and do up to 20 hrs 7 days a week should that be necessary for the success of the project.  A month of that kind of schedule will break the will of most teams, so worst case, that kind of badness only lasts a few weeks on a given project.   I have heard of badly managed teams working evenings and weekends for 6+ months, but that sort of thing is rare.  People quit those types of studios, and word gets out.  Not to mention badly run studios tend to go out of business.

- What's your salary? 

You will likely have to work near a big city to work in a big studio.  The more expensive the location's rent and real estate, the more your salary will be.  Base salary in most places I've been in California have been in the mid 70.000's, but rent and cost of living are higher so don't go getting $$ signs in your eyes.  Learn what the cost of living is where you're headed.  A seasoned senior artist can easily get 120 -170K just so you know,  but you have to learn to do more than just be a basic 'modeler" - you have to embrace your technical side and approach an art director level of responsibility.  Also - the more prestigious the studio and the more desirable the project - sometimes the LESS they pay (20-30% less) because you're getting a hot name to drop on your resume and they know it.


- People said that it's hard to get a long-term contract. Is it true? 
 For 20 years I've never taken anything but long-term contracts, but there is a LOT more temporary full-time employee work now than ever, especially for new hires and junior artists.

- Is it really competitive to get a job? 
Yes - you must be the best of the best. After 24 hrs of a 3d job posting our mid-sized studio gets between 140 and 240 resumes.

- Is it hard for an international student to be hired?
It is an extra step for an employer get an international hire.  This will be a deterrent for junior positions because there are hundreds of good people who the company does not need to take extra steps to hire.  

Do you feel happy with this career? Do you think this is a good job? Do you regret choosing it and why?

There are a lot of easier creative career paths to follow. Being a professional 3d artist is very demanding and many solid, reliable artists eventually leave because they can't get that next gig within a reasonable time to pay the mortgage or rent.  Working as a 3d artist and putting down roots is also difficult  You might find jobs dry up and have to move you or your family from one corner of the continent to the other, or even around the globe. As you grow older it's very difficult to have your spouse and family uproot and move   If the 3d artists are lucky and jobs become scares, they teach, and if they're not lucky the move on to other creative/art jobs that are more in demand and not so niche.

Knowing all of that - if you still crazy enough to chose to go into it - well, then you have the right stuff.  The first thing my team half-jokingly asked me at my first big studio as the low-level artist was "Are you sure you really want to do this, man? Are you really sure about this?"
 
  04 April 2018
Originally Posted by Cathat: Knowing all of that - if you still crazy enough to chose to go into it - well, then you have the right stuff.  The first thing my team half-jokingly asked me at my first big studio as the low-level artist was "Are you sure you really want to do this, man? Are you really sure about this?"

Which is also perfect leverage for unpaid overtime if you answer ”yes, yes, yes!”. So, keep it cool when people ask if you are willing to die for pushing polys.

Last edited by masterofacid : 04 April 2018 at 06:35 PM.
 
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