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Types of Employment



Author: Bill Fischer
professor of Digital Media, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.

Image: Kendall Digital Media student: Sarah Fifarek (screen capture from a stop-motion animation)


 Types of Employment  

When choosing a Digital Media profession, it's important to consider the types of employment that are available. For instance, if a person would like a steady job, Illustration may not be the best choice, because it is typically a freelance profession. However, adding graphic/interactive design or animation skills can help one find work in game and advertising studios. They can hire full time artists and designers as they tend to have steady project backlogs. Video, Motion Graphics and Interactive designers have the most opportunities in today's marketplace. However, in all types, it's not unusual for a new professional to work freelance for a year or two, gaining professional experience and building a professional portfolio, prior to landing their first full-time position.


 Employment Types by Profession  

Freelance:
• Illustrators
• Animators working in entertainment
• Interactive Designers
• Motion Graphics and Video Production

In-House Contract:
• Illustrators and animators working in entertainment
• Mostly in LA and NY

Full Time Employment:
• Illustrators and/or animators (with graphic design skills) in game, retail and advertising
• Interactive Designers
• Motion Graphics and Video Production


 Employment Types: Logistics 

Freelance - Work for hire 
• You, as the artist, retain no rights to the creative work. All rights are transferred to the client.
• You will be responsible for providing health insurance and retirement savings for yourself.
• You work in your own studio and incur all (tax deductible) operational expenses.
• You bill the client either hourly or, more commonly, per project.
• You are responsible for paying taxes quarterly.

Freelance - Traditional (becoming somewhat rare)
• You, as the artist, sell usage for media that you create (every time the media is used
   you can ask for more payment). You as the artist retain the rights to the creative work.
• You will be responsible for providing health insurance and retirement savings for yourself.
• You work in your own studio and incur all (tax deductible) operational expenses.
• You bill the client either hourly or, more commonly, per project.
• You are responsible for paying taxes quarterly.

In-house contract
• Creative work is generally owned by the employer.
• Sometimes includes health care and retirement benefits if the employment is through a
   contract agency or you belong to a union.
• You work in-house at the company and they supply all necessary equipment and software.
• Can be direct or through a contract agency
• In broadcast film and animation, the contract is usually for the duration of the show
   (season by season).
• In feature film and animation, the contract is usually for the duration of the production
   process you are involved with.
• You are responsible for paying taxes quarterly. If you are contracting through an agency,
   they will deduct it from your paycheck.

Internship
• Creative work is owned by the employer.
• Health and retirement benefits are usually not provided by employer.
• You work in-house at the company and they supply all necessary equipment and software.
• Taxes are deducted from your paycheck.
• By law, this is required to be short-term employment situation... usually no more than 3 months

Full-Time Employment
• Creative work is owned by the employer.
• Health and retirement benefits provided by employer.
• You work in-house at the company.
• Taxes are deducted from your paycheck.


 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 
from US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Here are some employment statistics that can help you to understand what and where the opportunities are going to be in the near future. It is my experience that young artists and designers often become pragmatic about their professional training later than they should. Early understanding and planning of their options can significantly shorten the path to success.
Click Link:


 Take-aways:  

  • When planning your career, ask yourself 'does being self-employed interest me?' or 'would I really like to (eventually) work for a company'.
  • In the current economy, many new creatives will have to build professional experience as free-lancers until they can land their first full time position.


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