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Job Description

Special Effects Artists create mechanical, visual and computer generated illusions to enhance productions and make them more believable. They are behind the visual effects seen on TV, film, video games, mobile apps and some live entertainment events. They will work with designers, artists, directors, engineers and other professionals to create the required effects which could be computer generated or old school effects such as precise miniatures, creative make-up and dynamite.  Most good special effects are a mixture of both physical techniques and digital wizardry.

Entry Requirements

To get into this role you will normally need a degree, you could however start at a junior level and get some of the skills required through a college course or apprenticeship.


You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject such as:

  • Visual effects
  • Animation
  • Art and design
  • Film and video

for your course, you will usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

University course search

College Course

You could take a college course which will give you some of the skills required to get started in a junior role courses include:

  • Creative and Digital Media Diploma Level 3
  • Visual Special Effects and Animation Extended Diploma Level 3
  • Digital Arts, Animation and Games Design Applied General Diploma Level 3

You'll usually need:

4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

The following colleges may offer a relevant course


You could take a higher apprenticeship in visual effects, creative and digital media or a junior animator role. This would help you take a step towards becoming a special effects artist.

You will usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

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Career Tips

You will need to keep a portfolio of projects that you have worked on to show prospective employers.

You may find it useful to do some related voluntary work or work experience.

Required Skills

  • Excellent creativity and artistic skills
  • Patience and the ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Excellent IT skills
  • A good eye for detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to work to deadlines

Salary Range

£17,000 to £54,000

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