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What is 3D Modeling?

A 3D modeler is a type of multimedia artist or animator who creates three-dimensional models or visuals of items using a variety of different computer software programs and tools. This complex process is typically used to create 3D models for television, the motion picture industry, the video game industry, websites and advertising. However, these professionals may also create 3D models for scientists, architects, engineers and more. These professionals are very tech-savvy and must be very familiar with the variety of computer software programs used to build models, background scenery and other elements required for projects.

The technology and advances in the field of 3D modeling are continuously growing, so the professional that chooses this career must stay up to date and current in their field. A deep understanding of the applications and software must be combined with a natural artistic talent; a 3D modeler who has developed both his or her technical skills and artistic abilities will be most valued in this industry.  This kind of work requires pulling from a diverse set of skills, so those who are most successful in this industry have a strong background in design and animation. Aspiring 3D modelers are wise to start with basic animation art and then build their expertise with modeling applications and software experience.

What Does a 3D Modeler Do?

Professionals who work in 3D modeling are often part of a larger design team creating projects like films, video games, commercials and marketing campaigns. They often work in office buildings or agencies that are fast-paced and exciting. A small percentage of 3D modelers may work from home; the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies 3D modelers under “multimedia artists and animators,” and approximately 57% of these professionals are self-employed. Many who work with agencies still work from home, and because this particular field is highly specialized and professionals are valued in many different industries, the 3D modeler often has a choice as to where they work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 13% of multimedia artists are employed in the motion picture and video industries – the largest employer of multimedia artists. Other industries employing these professionals include computer systems design and related services (6%), software publishers (5%) and advertising, public relations and related services (4%).

Education Requirements for a 3D Modeler

The education for a 3D modeler should depend upon the industry they plan to enter. For instance, individuals who want to create art for video games should consider majoring in game design, and should have a strong background in art and multimedia art. Those who wish to become a 3D modeler in a scientific field should major in a science-related degree such as physics with a focus on modeling. In any case, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends that those pursuing a career as a 3D modeler earn at least a bachelor’s degree. As the competition for this career grows, those who display more education and experience will have better opportunities and prospects. It is wise to research schools and available programs in-depth before choosing, and it’s also a sound decision to speak with a career counselor about your goals and to determine what education path to take.

What is the Annual Salary for a 3D Modeler?

The salary for a multimedia artist can vary greatly depending upon his or her specialization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2013, multimedia artists and animators earned an annual median salary of $61,370. However, the top 10% of earners brought home more than $113,000 and the lowest 10% earned less than $35,000. The highest paying industry for 3D modelers is the motion picture and video industry; the median wage for these professionals in this industry as of May 2013 was $72,680. Following that was the software publishing industry ($62,310), the advertising and public relations industry ($60,220), and computer systems design ($58,950).

What Can I do with a Degree in 3D Modeling?

It can be difficult to get job outlook data on 3D modelers, especially since they can be employed in a plethora of different industries. However, the multimedia artists and animator anticipated job growth rate is 6% through the year 2022. While this is slower than the average job growth rate for all other occupations (11%), this can be attributed to high competition. More and more individuals want to become animators and work with video games and movies; however, a fewer number of individuals are going to specialize to become 3D modelers. It’s safe to say that individuals who take the time and study 3D modeling as well as choosing a wise career path for their eventual industry will have great job prospects and opportunities.

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