I was talking to a veteran animator and teacher not long ago and he said that he tells his students that they days of graduating and walking into a solid job at a large studio are long over. He said artists today should prepare to "create their own work." Being an independent animator for 50, or so, years, I think he knows a lot about this subject.
Technology changes everything. It's not just the latest greatest hardware we have today, like the Wacom Cintiq, tablet PC or super fast computers, it is also the software. It's not about choosing a particular software either. That really depends on what you want to create, but there is most definitely something out there that will let you create, and probably let you create the way you want to as well.
I never met an artist who got into this business thinking, "I want to be an in between artist." or "I want to be an inker." Everyone I have spoken to, both students and those working, have their own ideas, and their own stories they hope to see come to life one day. The large studio, though, is like a machine, a well oiled machine that is likely perfect for what they do, but a machine none the less. The chances of that in between artist writing and directing their own projects are slim to none.
As I said before, though, technology changes everything. The tools exist today, right now, for an artist to simply start their project, start telling their story, and why wait? The experience gained alone would be more than worth the effort, and you will only get better, learn more and more and hone your craft with each effort. Today, you can have an idea and see something come to life right before our eyes, without waiting for long processes and different departments of a studio workflow. You can begin to bring your ideas to life right now. Why not try?