I was thinking about the old saying that it takes 10,000 hours of work in a subject to become a master, so I decided to try and make a little breakdown that mimics our work cycle in the US:
30 days in a month - 2 days off each week=
Approx. 22 work days in a month
8hr x 22 days = 176 hrs a month
176 x 12 = 2,112 hrs of work a year
10,000 hrs in a subject for mastery
10,000/2112 hrs of work= 4.73 years for mastery
The students I teach are often on my heart, I try to help them in anyway I can. I was considering how much work it takes to get into a CG related industries. The numbers above may seem bleak, but the good thing is that it doesn't take a full master to get a job in CG, yet, it does take some level of mastery to get a job; let me explain: When you take the challenge of getting into the CG world, in order to get paid for an internship, or junior position doing whatever the particular job might be, (Animator, Modeler, Technical Artist etc. etc.) you need to prove to the employer that you have the skill to accomplish the job you are applying for at a level that is at beyond "good enough" for the more menial tasks the job may entail. You must also show potential, creativity, positivity, drive, and the professionality that it takes to be a person who will grow in their work place and add value to their company.
This all sounds like a great, gritty pep talk, but it is so ethereal. In concrete terms, what is it going to take to get into the position you want? Well unfortunately I don't have an exact answer for that, this is not really a math equation that one might find the right answer for. But, for those who have worked in the field extensively, (by extensively I mean into that 10,000 hour range) the stories are usually somewhat the same: "I worked really long hours, studied hard, failed a lot, found mentors and forwent the pain and insecurity, ups and downs that went with it all". You see, until you give yourself, I mean really give your all to a study, you will not know how good you might be, nor how much it may pay off.
One last thought, what about if you do all the above and you still don't make it? You are a winner! I know, I know, you may not have gotten the prize you wanted, but winners go for the prize, even if in the face of possible defeat. Going for it with all you've got is enough.
Daniel Triplett, is an artist that worked in game development for over 6 years, and now teaches in the Computer Graphics Technology department (CGT) at Purdue University.