School of Motion

The 2019 Motion Design Survey

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More than 1,000 motion graphics artists report on the MoGraph industry in the 2019 Motion Design Survey

As artists privileged with the opportunity to help advance the modern era of MoGraph, we are consistently amazed at the explosive growth and optimistic tone of our industry. The motion design scene has changed significantly in the last few years, so we thought it'd be helpful to conduct an informal survey with artists around the world to better understand the day-to-day life of today's motion designer.
This is the 2019 Motion Design Industry Survey.
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For our 2019 survey, we polled more than 1,000 motion designers from 95 countries. From the data we collected, we've drawn some conclusions about the current state of the industry and hypothesized what we might expect in the future. We also pointed out some areas that probably need improvement.
While it is important to note that we've derived our information from an anonymous online survey, and our data represents only a small section of the greater MoGraph community, we hope our summary of the results will help you understand at least a little more about this increasingly competitive, ever-expanding and notably nuanced professional field.

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Ready to see the data? You can download a PDF mini-booklet with the full results of the survey.
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The 2019 Motion Design Survey: Inside the Data

For our survey, we divided the data by four sections, and 12 subsections:
1. General
  • General Questions
  • Gender & Diversity
2. Work
  • Business & Studio Owners
  • Motion Design Employees
  • Freelance Motion Designers
3. Education
  • Active College Students
  • College Graduates
  • Continued Education
4. Industry
  • Inspiration & Dreams
  • Changing Industry
  • Meetups & Events
  • Really Important Questions
Our breakdown appears below...

General

Age, Apps, and Income (General Questions)

THE AVERAGE AGE OF MOTION DESIGNERS AND MOTION DESIGN STUDIO OWNERS
Across the world, the average age of today's motion designer is 33.
While the average international age of a motion design studio owner is 35, only two years older, in the United States and United Kingdom the average age increases to 40.
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What's astonishing is that 79% of survey participants have only been in the motion design industry for a decade or less — demonstrating the adolescence of our industry.
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THE MOST POPULAR MOTION DESIGN SOFTWARE
Perhaps without surprise, After Effects is by far the most popular software in the industry, with nearly eight out of 10 motion designers primarily working in this Adobe app.
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Adobe claims the next spot, as well, with 28% of the motion designers polled reporting that Illustrator is their second most-used software.
Illustrator is widely considered the 2D vector design software of choice among professional artists, so the survey results here are certainly not earth shattering.
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THE AVERAGE INCOME OF FULL-TIME MOTION DESIGNERS
Perhaps the most common consideration among motion designers — whether freelance or employed by a studio or other company — is how their income — whether by annual salary or hourly, day or per-project rate — compares to that of their competitors. Well, here's your answer.
Based on the responses tallied from more than 1,000 participants worldwide, we found that the average full-time (30+ hours a week) motion designer salary amounts to $63,000 (USD) a year.
The country with the highest average motion designer income is the United States, at $87,900 (USD) per year, while MoGraph designers based in Canada earn the second most on average, at $69,000 (USD) per annum.
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(More on motion design economics below.)

Gender & Diversity

THE GENDER GAP IN MOTION DESIGN
As in most professional fields, gender equality has been a hot-button issue in the predominantly male-dominated motion design community.
Our survey respondents identify as follows:
  • Male: 74.5%
  • Female: 24.1%
  • Rather Not Say: 0.8%
  • Non-Binary: 0.7%
This represents a somewhat modest increase of 2.1% in female representation since our last poll in 2017.
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Our data also suggests that the gender pay gap exists at every level of Motion Design, with the average female motion designer making 8.6% less per year ($7.5K) than male counterparts. The gender pay gap seems to be more pronounced for freelancers and Motion Designers with more experience in the industry.
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Work

Business & Studio Owners

Of the 1,065 people we surveyed, 88 are business owners with at least one hired employee. We asked these individuals for more information on their businesses, and found:
  • A vast majority of motion design studios (86%) have between one and 10 employees
  • A little more than 50% have been in business for five or fewer years, while 26% have been in business for six to 10
How many employees work in a motion design studio?.png
This supports our qualitative findings — that an increasing number of small, nimble studios have been forming and finding success.
One example of this phenomenon is the four-person team at Ordinary Folk, which recently created our critically acclaimed manifesto video:
Perhaps the most encouraging news is that nearly 50% of all studio owners surveyed report that they've had more work in the last year. (Overall, studios average 34 projects per year, or almost three per month.)
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Motion Design Employees

One of the more telling statistics from our 2019 survey relates to where (non-freelance) motion designers work.
The majority of motion designers report serving as in-house employees at companies they don't own, demonstrating the growing understanding outside the industry of the importance of motion design work. (The same trend occurred in marketing a decade or two ago, when businesses began to recognize the value of this work, bringing it in house for cost savings and stronger interdepartmental coordination.)
Of course, the really important question is how much in-house motion designers earn. The answer: in the United States, full-time motion designers report an average annual salary of $70,700 (USD) — working, on average, 40.8 hours per week.
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Obvious advantages of full-time employment with an established company are benefits and paid time off; 65.6% of in-house MoGraph artists receive medical benefits, while 80.6% get PTO.
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Freelance Motion Designers

While there's certainly less security in working freelance, for yourself, our survey results suggest there's also greater opportunity.
Among our respondents, the US-based freelancers report earning close to $91,000 (USD) per year, or approximately $20,000 (USD) more than full-time motion design employees — and freelancers only work about 50 hours more per year (at 41.9 hours a week, versus 40.8 hours per week for full-time employees).
How much do motion design freelancers make.png
However, not every freelance motion designer works full time.
Globally, the average freelance motion designer — both part time and full time — makes $47,390 (USD) a year from their freelance motion design work.
It's worth noting that the results vary dramatically based on hours worked, experience, expertise and geographic location; among our respondents, annual income ranges from $10,000 (USD) to $300,000 (USD)!
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Education

Active College Students

Of the 1,065 people we surveyed, only 54 are currently college students. Of those, while the split between public and private school is close to 50/50, only one third are attending art school.
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Interestingly, less than one quarter of the current students surveyed express satisfaction with their college experience, and only 16.7% say their professors understand the modern motion design industry.
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This is indicative of a larger reality in higher education, at least in the United States, where — for many — opportunity cost has become an alarming concern.
As our founder and CEO Joey Korenman recently asked his LinkedIn network, "What are the effects of starting your career with a multiple six-figure albatross around your neck?"

College Graduates

Overall, nearly three quarters of the 1,065 motion designers we polled have attended college, and more than 50% of the graduates believe college did not equip them for a motion design career.
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There is some good news for college graduates in motion design, though: $5,200 more in annual earnings than non-college graduates.
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As for the opportunity cost, the average college graduate leaves school with $31,000 in debt; one person polled reports a college debt of $240,000!
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For a college-by-college breakdown, here's a list of the most popular schools among survey participants, along with the average associated post-graduation debt:
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Of course, there are alternatives to traditional undergraduate education for those looking to enter the MoGraph industry — and SOM is one example.

Continued Education

Feeling underprepared to enter the workforce as a motion designer, many college graduates — and non-graduates, of course — elect to invest in their creative future through continued education.
In fact, more than 82% of motion designers say they plan on financially investing in their education in the next 12 months.
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And, our data suggests that those who invest in a continued education after college earn a higher yearly income:
  • Motion designers who invest financially in their continued education make an average of $69,000 (USD) per year
  • Motion designers who do not invest financially in their continued education make an average of $65,000 (USD) per year
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Industry

Inspiration & Dreams

One of the reasons motion design is such a thriving community is the education, inspiration and empowerment motion designers gain from each other's work.
We asked more than 1,000 motion designers who and what most inspires and them.
The Most Popular Motion Design Studios
  1. Buck
  2. Giant Ant
  3. Ordinary Folk
  4. Cub Studio
  5. Oddfellows
The Most Popular Motion Design Artists
  1. Jorge R. Canedo E.
  2. Ash Thorp
  3. Sander van Dijk
  4. Beeple
  5. Markus Magnusson
Where Motion Designers Go for Inspiration
  1. Instagram
  2. Motionographer
  3. Vimeo
  4. Behance
  5. Pinterest
Where Motion Designers Go to Enhance their Skills
  1. YouTube
  2. School of Motion
  3. Greyscalegorilla
  4. Skillshare
  5. Instagram
Of course, as in any field, practitioners of motion design also face roadblocks. We asked what they are.
The Top Five Excuses Reasons Motion Designers are Not Yet Where they Want to Be
  1. Lack of Time
  2. Lack of Money
  3. Lack of Motivation
  4. Lack of Experience
  5. Fear of Failure

Changing Industry

More women in the workforce is one positive change in the motion design industry. A growing commitment to continued education is another. But perhaps no greater indication of our industry's progress is the fact that two thirds of all motion designers have seen an increase in income in the last 12 months.
Are motion designers making more money than before.png
We asked our survey participants if there are any industry trends that worry them. Here's what they said:
The Top Five Concerns Among Motion Designers
  1. Shrinking Budgets
  2. Automation
  3. Competition
  4. Shift to 3D
  5. Template Sites
On a more positive note...
The Five Most Exciting Opportunities in Motion Design
  1. 3D
  2. Virtual Reality
  3. Freelancing
  4. Augmented Reality
  5. UI/UX

Meetups & Events

One thing's for sure about motion designers, and that's that they spend a lot of time behind their machines.
If you're not a nature enthusiast, concert goer, bar hopper, gym buff or mall rat, the motion design meetup is the perfect excuse for getting out of the house.
Plus, unlike those other aforementioned options, you can actually enhance your career by attending an industry event. Among the many benefits, there are great opportunities to learn and network...
Not sure which one is right for you? We've got it covered.
We asked more than 1,000 motion designers which motion design meetup they want to attend, and here are the top 12 most popular:
Popular Motion Design Events.png

The Important Questions

So, what are you going to wear to these MoGraph meetups?
Important question, obviously, and we were sure the answer would be the hoodie... but we were wrong!
More than 60% of our respondents reported not regularly wearing a hoodie.
Guess we need to update our wardrobes.
To wrap up this year's motion design industry survey, we asked what's obviously the most important question of all — and we're thrilled to report that 86.4% of the industry does in fact "bless the rains down in Africa."
Phew!
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And that's all, folks.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!
Want to see some other questions asked in our next survey? Let us know.
Want more information on the 2019 report? Download the PDF, which expands significantly upon our synopsis; or, email us your questions.
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Download the results!

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Increase Your Opportunities — Continue Your Education

As the 2019 Motion Design Industry Survey shows, investing in your education pays dividends, especially when the cost of that education does not bury you in college-level debt.
With School of Motion, you'll gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make major moves in motion design.
Our classes aren't easy, and they're not free. They're interactive and intensive, and that's why they're effective. 
In fact, 99.7% of our alumni recommend School of Motion as a great way to learn motion design. (Makes sense: many of them go on to work for the biggest brands and best studios on earth!)
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Pick the course that's right for you — and you'll gain access to our private student groups; receive personalized, comprehensive critiques from professional artists; and grow faster than you ever thought possible.
WHEN'S THE LAST TIME SOMETHING MOVED YOU?