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Media Arts Colleges and Vocational Schools

By Publisher
| Last Updated March 8, 2023

Discover an intriguing new path for your artistic talents with media arts colleges.

Vocational schools for digital arts specialize in empowering the potential of creative individuals who enjoy using technology. Their immersive training can set you on a course toward a colourful and lively career in the digital arts. It's a future that could involve working on fun projects like animations, films, video games, soundscapes, or interactive Web apps. With the professional skills you can acquire, the possibilities are almost limitless.

5 Popular Careers You Can Train For at a Media Arts College

Media Arts SchoolsAs an aspiring artist or designer, you want a career that builds on your imagination and talent. And for someone who is also tech-minded and enjoys interacting with the digital world, combining the artsy side with the techy side could come naturally. That's what makes the media arts sector so exciting, especially with emerging technologies that transform how we live our daily lives. Working in media and digital arts can allow you to combine your strongest interests and prosper from them.

Plus, Canada is a terrific place to pursue a digital arts career. This country is home to some of the best art schools in Canada, such as LaSalle College Vancouver, with internationally recognized programs in the field. And you can't discount the sustained success of the nation's media arts industries. Canada's Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) released it's Digital Talent Outlook 2025, and it looks like this industry is set to grow even more.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for the digital economy. As Canadians faced waves of lockdowns, digital tools and services enabled them to work, study, shop, access news and entertainment, stay connected, and complete other tasks. Businesses also used (and continue to use) these tools to serve and maintain connections with customers. The pressure on both the demand and supply sides meant that the digital economy has not only survived but saw its output and employment hit new highs.

The pandemic also demonstrated to many Canadians various digital tools for the first time. Additionally, data science and analytics use rose significantly, with discussions about privacy, ethics, and data sovereignty taking center stage.

Look at these facts from The Canadian Video Game Industry 2021 report conducted for Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC):

  • The video game industry experienced a GDP growth rate of 23% from 2019-2021.
  • Canada's digital games industry was among the top ten in the world for revenue in 2021.
  • Jobs in Canada's video game industry increased by 28% in 2019 compared to 2017.
  • Canada has more than 930 active video game studios.
  • Video game companies in Canada directly employ 32,300 FTEs.
  • Canadians own about 75% of the video game companies in Canada.

Clearly, the media arts sector is flourishing with compelling opportunities. So, how can you contribute? First, check out five of the most common vocational paths below. And keep in mind that media artists and designers often perform work that overlaps. For instance, a digital illustrator or graphic designer might, at some point, work on projects related to each of these areas. And the same is often true of other types of creative professionals.

*Salary details following are from Canada's Job Bank.

1. Animation and Visual Effects (VFX)

Today's visual media incorporates more animation and VFX than ever before. In fact, many of the world's top moneymaking movies are driven, to a large extent, by computer-generated imagery (CGI) and 2D or 3D motion graphics. And a lot of Canadian studios are involved in creating effects for big Hollywood productions like The Hunger Games as well as for everything from video games to TV shows to electronic learning platforms. Computer animators have become vital to the success of the entertainment industry and are increasingly playing more significant roles in interactive education.

  • Animation artists make a median wage of $28.00 per hour and up to $43.27 on the high end of earnings.
  • Related job titles you may encounter in this field:
    • 3D animation artist
    • Advertising designer
    • Animated cartoon technician
    • Animation painter
    • Animator for films
    • Cartoonist
    • Commercial artist
    • Computer graphics technician
    • Graphic artist
    • Graphic designer
    • Graphics technician
    • Illustrator
    • Layout designer
    • Medical illustrator
    • Multimedia graphic design technician
    • Multimedia illustrator
    • Scientific illustrator

2. Video Game Design and Development

Young professionals working on a tabletVideo games now dominate the popular entertainment sector. And while this sector has been booming for a while, pandemic-related uncertainty has only increased it's popularity. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) determined that sales for video game consoles were 58% higher in 2020 than in 2019. ESAC's research included reports from Canadians stating that video games were helping them to get through hard times and stay connected to others. It's no surprise that the gaming industry contributed $5.5 billion to Canada's 2021 GDP.

People enjoy being actively involved in fascinating stories and engaging with creative digital environments, objects, and characters in a way that isn't passive. But it takes teams of highly skilled and imaginative professionals to create games that people want to play repeatedly and share with others. It's why video game designers, developers, and programmers can find very appealing opportunities in Canada.

  • Video game designers make a median wage of $30.25 per hour and up to $45.00 or more on the high end of earnings.
  • Video game developers make a median wage of $40.38 per hour and up to $58.97 on the high end of earnings.
  • Related job titles you may encounter in these fields:
    • Application programmer
    • Computer game developer
    • E-business software developer
    • Interactive media developer
    • Multimedia developer
    • Software developer
    • Software development project manager
    • Software programmer
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3. Digital Film and Photography

Nearly everyone loves a good story. And images, whether moving or static, can make us feel closer to a story's subject matter. Films and photographs resonate in our minds and hearts. They are deeply embedded in many of our cultural experiences. Moreover, a single image or film work can spark a revolution. So digital filmmakers and photographers often have the power to make us see things in new ways and open us up to new possibilities. Videos, films, and images often stand on their own, but many are also frequently part of larger media projects or communications strategies. As a result, people with well-developed skills in this area tend to be in solid demand across almost the whole media arts sector.

  • Filmmakers make a median wage of $35.00 per hour and up to $48.08 or more on the high end of earnings.
  • Photographers make a median wage of $20.00 per hour and up to $40.00 or more on the high end.
  • Related job titles you may encounter in these fields:
    • Aerial photographer
    • Artistic director for motion pictures
    • Choreographer
    • Commercial photographer
    • Cyber-choreographer
    • Director for motion pictures
    • Director of photography
    • Forensic photographer
    • Industrial photographer
    • Multimedia audio producer
    • Photographer
    • Portrait photographer
    • Producer for performing arts
    • Producer-director
    • Radio producer
    • Record producer
    • Scientific photographer
    • Stage director for performing arts
    • Technical director for broadcasting
    • Television producer

4. Web and Mobile App Design and Development

The past few years have brought a massive increase in the number of things people choose to do online compared to in person. Shopping, schooling (from elementary classes to advanced college degrees), dating, fitness classes, and medical appointments are just a tiny sampling of what people do virtually more than ever. And people worldwide are increasingly using mobile devices as their primary tools for accessing the Internet. As a result, the tremendous power of online connection continues to become even more powerful. Web designers and app developers get to keep evolving with the exciting technologies they love. Their creativity and skill result in transformative new ways to find and process information, shop, entertain ourselves, build relationships, conduct business, and so much more.

Plus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems like ChatGPT are rapidly expanding and becoming more user-friendly and changing the landscape of the digital world dramatically. So this can be an exhilarating and lucrative time to learn and work in web and mobile app design.

  • Web designers and developers make a median wage of $30.00 per hour and up to $50.00 or more on the high end of earnings.
  • Related job titles you may encounter in this field:
    • E-business Web site developer
    • Internet site designer
    • Internet site developer
    • Intranet site designer
    • Web designer
    • Web developer
    • Web manager
    • Web site developer
    • Webmaster

5. Audio Production

The digital arts aren't just for visual creators. They're also for people who possess great enthusiasm for audio content. After all, what would most films or video games be without quality sound effects or mood-enhancing music? And just think of how many people you know who make listening to music a daily part of their lives or look forward with great anticipation to seeing a live concert by one of their favourite recording artists. This industry often rewards creative people with great skill, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking.

  • Sound technicians make a median wage of $28.00 per hour and up to $42.00 or more on the high end of earnings.
  • Audio directors make a median wage of $35.00 per hour and up to $48.08 or more on the high end.
  • Related job titles you may encounter in this field:
    • Audiovisual (AV) technician
    • Multimedia audio producer
    • Multimedia sound technician
    • Postproduction technician
    • Radio producer
    • Record producer
    • Recording engineer
    • Recording studio technician
    • Sound effects editor
    • Sound mixer
    • Sound technician
    • Technical director for broadcasting
    • Television producer
    • Video and sound recorder
    • Video recording technician