Planning three years out

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.
(Yogi Berra)

The first thing you can do is change your thinking to always plan three years ahead. Beyond that, the fog of statistical and actual uncertainty creeps in and does a motion blur on your most careful planning. As Elon Musk says, predicting the future is difficult, which is why most people don't even try. But from your prediction, you can go on to make that future, to create a better life and control your destiny. From today until three years out, that’s your window, and you can make some pretty good career bets based on what you think is coming up next, in that near future. Here’s an example:

Opportunity – food for China

As of 2024, there are 1.5 billion people in China. The government, to stay in power, must ensure at least 2 meals a day per person. THREE BILLION MEALS A DAY! But only 10% of China is arable... farmable. So, as they continue to prosper, they will import more food... from guess who?

And that would be your project – what large American food suppliers are already exporting to China? Do I hear Cargill? General Mills? ADM (Archer-Daniels-Midland)? Do your research... these will be great places to work... any large stable company in the food-to-China distribution chain... for a long, long time to come.

Opportunity – medical devices and medicine for the aged

Look around. Funny how there seem to be more old people than there used to be. Well, it’s true. There are a LOT more folks over 65 than ever before, thanks to good food, safer jobs, and much better drugs and medicine. And, even during a recession, a surprising percentage of those old folks have money. Savings. hard assets, like paid-for homes.

You can see the wave coming in, every time they run a Viagra ad about some old guy chasing a starlet through Beverly Hills. There is a HUGE upcoming opportunity for artists to work for rich, stable companies that make medical devices, like pacemakers, artificial hips, and insulin pumps (as you know, diabetes is going through the roof).

For you, the artist, the more high-tech or biomed the better... because they will need a TON of accurate medical illustrations for product literature and user manuals, as well as art for the flood of ads that you, and why not you, can help produce. Also, it’s an animator’s delight – see the little red corpuscles run into that nasty aortic plaque blockage... and... blam! Unless you buy new AspiriX, etc, etc.

Remember – always try to figure out what will probably come along in two or three years. Stay tuned in. Keep aware. So you won’t be caught short, and you’ll always be ready to ride the next big wave coming in.

The $156,000,000 airplane

Besides Pixar and Disney, you’ll want to look outside of Hollywood for high-paying animation work with job stability and benefits. Who’s got money? Defense contractors (more on them later). For example, take the F-35 Lightning II. The United States planned to buy a total of 2,443 F-35s for an estimated US$323 billion, making it the most expensive defense program ever. But cost estimates have risen to $382 billion for 2,443 aircraft, at an average of $156 million each.

Now that’s a LOT of money. And a no-brainer for animators. Because nobody in THEIR RIGHT MIND is going to let some hot-rod 25-year-old Air Force pilot fly one of these things – without rigorous, extensive training! And, since a training mistake on the real thing means you’re out $156 million dollars, that means simulator training, and high-end simulators mean massive computer animation, and that means you. High pay, security, and excellent benefits.

Universities are in on this defense cash-cow game, too. Like the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), right in bed with the US Army’s University Affiliated Research Center program. Money and, again, lots of jobs.

But if you have a problem working on military products – if you actually take the Sixth Commandment seriously, just shift gears and head over to the civilian side, of, say, Boeing – where you can do exactly the same work but this time on the CST-100 Starliner astronaut space capsule program... the gift that keeps on giving, with costs over $700 million, before a single manned launch!

Anyway, you’ve got the message. There’s a ton of high-paying animation work out there, and you want to seek out companies making complicated expensive products that really need excellent simulator training. Planning three years out: as technology becomes more and more complex, your opportunity to prosper in this field can only grow. Have fun!

Two useful links –

Bureau of Labor Occupational Handbook - Artists – (also see Designers and Graphic Designers)

Art career info –

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