Try to gain as much work experience as possible since employers usually prefer to hire animators who hold some experience in their specialized field. So, while pursuing a degree program, you can manage to get some on the job experience as an intern. This can be a great idea to earn some extra bucks as well as a job experience which will benefit you in future. There is another option for an inexperienced animator.
You can join as an assistant for some time before trying for a proper animation job. This can be a very good opportunity to work closely with other experienced animators in a real time working environment.
It is a very competitive field and hence to increase your efficiency as an animator, you can join some classes to learn advanced software features. A lot of companies like Adobe and Apple as well as colleges do offer such classes.
To know about the current industry trends, one must read the publications which provide useful information regarding animation industry and hence you will be updated about all the new technical releases.