Degrees or certificates?

Hello everyone,
I'm looking for some resources for my child.  My youngest will be a rising high school senior this fall and is interested in pursuing a career in practical effects.  Most of the programs (except this one) seem to be focused on CGI/Animation or even just generic cinematography.  Where does one go to learn to join the ranks at Legacy Effects, Weta Workshop, etc? 

We've played with a variety of stuff here (raspberry pi servos, chain maille fab, lots of cosplay sewing, HS art classes, etc.)....there's a definite interest and the classes here are a true blessing right now with everything closed. I'm an IT guy/tinkerer so this is a bit out of my realm...

Any help or advice will be most appreciated. Apologies if this is answered elsewhere.  A quick forum search on degrees results in a lot of servo talk.

Thank you,


  • Hello! I am a college student right now with the same problem. I want to be a costume designer and puppet fabricator and my parents want me to get a degree, but it is hard to find. I have done a ton of research to find a college and what I found works best for me is to take these Stan Winston School classes and hop around different community college art and theatre production classes. I did this because I wanted to stay in LA. If your willing to go international, I think there is a good program through the University of Arts London. I think it is theatre focused but they teach animatronics, sculpture, casting, prosthetics, etc. Other than that there is a puppet course at University of Connecticut but that is all I know of. It seems like a lot of people don't get degrees and just start working but I am not sure. Good luck and I hope maybe this will help. It's hard to find a program that teaches techniques like this but also offers degrees. I hope you find something that works!
  • Thank you!
  • Hi Tim,

    Part of the challenge is that the field of practical effects covers a very diverse array of skills and specialties.  Everything from sculpting and mechanical engineering to welding and painting.   This would make it difficult for any degree program to cover everything.

    What most studios look for when hiring for a role is a body of work or portfolio that demonstrates the skills required to be successful in that role.

    That said, there are degree programs in specific fields like mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial design, etc. which could be useful for anyone wanting to specialize in a specific area of practical effects.

  • Thank you!  That will certainly help provide some focus and options!
  • edited July 2020
    I've attended and toured a couple of post-secondary colleges in Los Angeles over the years like Art Institute,  NYFA, LA Film School etc. I say post-secondary because they aren't universally accredited. Most of the credits don't transfer. They're more or less trade schools. I've found,  generally, a degree isn't required to work in the entertainment industry as long as you possess the skills and know-how to perform specific trades. When I was in film school I always utilized the schools resources and I was always in the field. I struggled to learn in a classroom environment. It was always more practical for me to learn thru doing or being hands-on. I was failing a class because my attendance was down. I was always out filming and the instructor passed me because he liked a final project I did from another class. I'm not sure if that helps.   
Sign In or Register to comment.