Can I find a job with a Bachelor's in 3D modeling


Hi everyone,

I have a 3D modeling BS degree program lined up at East Tennessee State University in the spring of 2016 (may postpone until fall of 2016). My biggest fear is that I will spend all my money on this degree and not be able to find a job when I graduate. I went to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) website and found that employment prospects for digital 3D artists is expected to grow by only about 6% domestically USA from now through 2020. This is below the average growth rate of about 8-9% for most industries in the USA. Can any 3D modeler insiders give me any information about future employment prospects in the USA and separately abroad for this industry.

It will be hard for me to move abroad after I graduate because I will spend most of my savings on this degree, so I was hoping I could get employment domestically first. If employment prospects for 3D modeling are dim, I have an online degree in computer programming lined up for 1/3 of the cost and may become a software engineer (i.e. video-game programmer). The BLS states that domestic employment prospects for software engineers (I think game programming fits this category) is 22% through 2020. Even though I like the art field more, I also like programming and have college classes in C and assembly language, and would go this route if it means I can find employment more easily than as a 3D modeler. That just reality…a person’s gotta live right?


It all comes down to whether you’re good or not. If you’re modeling is strong, you’ll find a job. If it’s poor to mediocre, you won’t. It’s a competitive field, but not hopeless.

Also, keep in mind that it’s not either/or when it comes to programming or 3D art. There’s a lot of demand for people who are both competent artists and competent programmers. If you can both model well and right tools that let you and others model more quickly, you will get a job.


Studios don’t care about your degrees, they care about your work. It’s your reel that’s key to getting a job; even the most cursory search of this topic on the web would have told you that already. Ignore statistics about job growth prospects and whatnot - the fact is that the big entertainment industries that rely on CG, like VFX and games, are highly volatile and difficult to break into, while nevertheless remaining the biggest areas of opportunity, since big studios have staff numbers in the hundreds. The only people who get anywhere in these industries are the ones who have both skill and perseverance.


Degree doesn’t matter much as Leigh has said its about your reel and previous experience within industry, if you have any, if not then reel is key.
I know of people in the industry that have come from completely different academic backgrounds that are self taught, in whichever 2D/3D discipline they were interested in.
Something you should be aware of is if you do manage to land a job in the industry as a modeler, or any other department, don’t expect it to be permanent, its most likely going to be contract which will range from a few weeks to a few months, if you’re lucky they’ll extend your contract, if not then you’ll be back to unemployment looking for another contract, which to be honest can be pretty difficult anyway.
Its actually pretty bad if you have a family, rent/mortgage, bills etc. If I could start again back in college days, knowing what I know now about the industry, I would have chosen a different career.
From what I’ve heard theres better job security in the games industry and benefits compared to vfx studios.


I guess this has already been said a lot of times before. Degrees only makes the visa process easier if you ever want to move to a different country. If that online degree that you mentioned is accredited, then I highly recommend you do that instead. Learn your CG skills from online courses and you would still end up paying a lot less. You need to be quite disciplined to manage all that though :wink:

Also, In the games industry, it might be easier to get a break for a technical position. I don’t know if it’s true in all companies, but I’ve seen a lot more recent graduates take technical positions than art . You could always move positions once you establish yourself.

From what I’ve heard theres better job security in the games industry and benefits compared to vfx studios.

I agree with the job security part, but not too sure about the compensation! I heard you get paid better in the vfx industry :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes, the pay is considerably higher in vfx. Whenever I look at game industry postings, I’m utterly horrified by the salaries on offer


Games are more likely to offer health insurance, though, which is worth a lot on this side of the Atlantic. Probably not enough to fully compensate for the difference in take home pay, but it covers a chunk.


I don’t think people particularly care about what your degree looks like, but what your demo reel looks like.

It all depends on how good you make your work. I’m sure a good school is much more likely to push you in the right direction, so I wouldn’t go any old school, I would go to one that would help sharpen your skills. Because I think that’s all that matters in the end: your skills.


Be advised, most jobs in CG are temporary. It will take a while and some connections to get in with a studio especially a big studio. This is just the nature of the industry.

As for jobs in modeling, it is VERY competitive. However, if you are particularly strong especially in some sub modeling specialty will make it easier.


I’d ignore in general terms statistical industry employment analysis, insofar that typically by the time data is published, its nearly always outdated, thereby less that helpful. So my advice is to postpone the modelling BS degree too concentrate your time and resources towards an online self-learning approach ie: the CS course together with tuition in an traditional art program, which provides instruction from professionals, who also coach/mentor as well.

[an analogue art course will push your modelling output beyond mediocre, too be perfectly honest]

Now that said, you still have the option in revisiting your original educational plan, if the online route for whatever reason becomes unviable. In regards to past experience from a related IT computing curriculum I’d undertaken a decade ago, in recollection can be a heavily intensive for most people to grasp initially, probably all things being equal, a tad on the mathematically cerebral side :slight_smile:

Anyways I’d hasten to add just a thought or two geared mainly on the technical side of the equation, quite apart from the overall consensus here, plus as mentioned, an artist with a programming skillset will usually propel their job application up to the head of the queue, provided you’re personable and can work in a team environment that is.

Cheers :wink:


Thanks for the replies everyone…very helpful. leigh, I did do some cursory searches on the net about said topic and found conflicting responses. Some said that the 3D industry is favoring degrees now, while others said no it’s just your reel.

I finally did go for an adviser meeting and tour at ETSU and came away with mixed feelings.
I met with an instructor and one adviser. When I asked if I’d be able to find a job, the
instructor said, “well we have a high placement rate…,” immediately the adviser interjected,
“that depends on you. We’ve had students come to the end of our program with great portfolios and when I later run into them and ask them what they are doing and they say nothing. Those people just expect employers to come to them.” It kind of sounded to me that the two faculty members I was speaking to had uncoordinated sells pitches. This was kind of discouraging to me.

Yes I understand that one must proactively search for employment, but when you pay $60-$70k for four years of schooling, which is what this program will cost including room and board, you’d expect some connections in the industry. After all, finding a job is at least 50% connections in my book. This adviser just didn’t seem to care, denied all responsibility, and placed the burden completely on me; then make it seem like they are doing you a favor by taking you money. I kind of feel like I can take the money I would pay for school and learn everything on my own. At least I’ll own the equipment right?

Even though I like the art field better, I also like computer programming and feel that employment prospects are better in that field. Then I can learn the art on my own and combine the two. Art will never be more than a hobby for 98% of the people out there in my opinion. Plus the online computer programming degree from FSU is only about $30-$35k and can be done completely at home.


You can’t expect your school to open up opportunities in the broader industry; their job is to educate you. You make your own connections and you attract employers by creating new great work. I know you’re feeling discouraged by what the people at the school said, but honestly, speaking as someone who has been working in the CG field for a long time, I’d say that schools that brag about industry connections and high placement rates are generally far less trustworthy. At least the guys you spoke to appear to have been honest.

Personally, based on my own experience, finding work isn’t 50% about connections. I’d say that connections may be about 15% of it, at most. Impressing and employer and, crucially, remaining employed is all about the quality of your work and your ability to work productively as part of a team.


leigh, I’ll take your word on everything you said because you have the experience. You see I already have a BS degree geared towards pre-physical therapy or pre-med. However, art has always been my passion and my college career started as a graphic arts major but all I heard from family is that you’ll be a starving artist after college. So after a semester of art I reluctantly switched degrees forsaking my passion. After working in PT for 5 years I realized the mistake…it was boring…not creative. So now I have probably the last opportunity of my lifetime to go back and correct the mistake, but the same feelings are coming up again.

When NightOwl3D says this, “If I could start again back in college days, knowing what I know now about the industry, I would have chosen a different career.” These statements from industry insiders seem to justify my feelings. That’s why I decided to join this website to hear directly from industry insiders about job security and satisfaction etc. Would some of you think that I would have a better chance at job security in the 3D field if I combined it with the science/medical stuff I know? I’ve heard that National Geographic has a video-game division now. Or I might like to be the guy that makes dino documentaries for these science channels.


Yeah I won’t lie, the VFX and gaming industries are pretty volatile. Job security is… hard to come by, let’s put it that way. I’ve been in the VFX field for 15 years now (four years in TV commercials, 11 years in film), and while I’ve only ever had one period of unemployment, it lasted for an entire year; although, to be fair, I could have found work during that time, I was just being picky about who I worked for, and I survived on freelance work during that time, so it’s not like I was starving or poor.

But you never know when those times are going to arise, when you don’t have a job to go to every day in a studio. I’m fortunate in that I own my apartment outright, so I’ll always have a home regardless of how tough things get and that’s a big piece of security for me, but I still have a lot of concerns about the direction the industry is heading, as studios underbid each other more aggressively than ever before, and outsourcing is leading to a lot of work being sent to facilities in the developing world where it’s far cheaper to get done. Contracts in the VFX world are becoming shorter and shorter, and we are finding ourselves hopping from studio to studio more frequently than before. Wages have also dropped somewhat, although overall I’d say the money is still very good.

If I was totally honest, I’d probably agree with the other post about choosing a different career if I could go back in time; having said that, my own reasons for that are more to do with wanting more creative freedom than I have, and just my own changing interests (I’m more interested in photography these days than VFX). I guess, as you get older, your interests do invariably change, so perhaps it’s not surprising that at the age of 36, I’m thinking about doing something else with my life. So take that into account along with my opinion on things.

It’s definitely worth your while investigating medical or scientific avenues. Medical illustration that uses CG is a pretty established field, so definitely check that out, and your mention of National Geographic makes me think of other niche fields, like archeological visualisations. CG is employed in quite a lot of fields, and you may well find more stability, especially longterm, in them. The only tradeoff is that because they’re niche fields, there are fewer jobs, unlike the entertainment juggernauts that hire large numbers of people (and then lay them off at the end of production). I guess it’s a matter of weighing up what’s most important to you, and trying to find some balance in a particular career avenue. At the end of the day, it’s your life and these are big decisions that you need to make, so don’t rely on advice from strangers on the internet, but hopefully my own experiences will help you to see how things work on the entertainment side of things.


Leigh is so right on this .This industry is very hard to get a steady time job .For example if you look at most peoples resume that are wonderful artists they switch from place to place to place .I know one guy who worked at blur for nearly 10 years and has a bachleor in biology but lost his job recently and had to go somewhere else .Or another person who is probably the best artist I have every seen modeling wise works for jobs here and there .Its rough so my suggestion is make sure this is what you really want .I taught for 10 years and and now I work in another field .So Make sure this is what you want to do .Also dont focus on being one thing either .I know almost every aspect of CG from Modeling , Texture ,Rigging ,Animation,Composite work .its how valuable you are .Learn as much as you can not just one thing .


The same here in middle east ! & the problem is more complex …the world of the CG limited to companies paying bribes , TV channels operate nepotism So 10 years in the field of animation 2d, 3d … In the end, I traveled to Saudi Arabia …Here, a good salary, but I thimk am going back lost my mind


I think that it is not so difficult to find a job in the 3D modeling profile, although I have been looking for a long time. Moreover, I had to go through painful interviews with employers. Thanks to, I was able to pass an interview and now I work as a leading 3D designer in a not very well- known company.


Following is everything you need to know about a career as a multimedia artist and animator with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring in . The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career


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