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What does a Creative Director do?

A creative director oversees a creative team and project design and handles presentation concepts. Your creativity, strong communication and management skills, and ability to meet deadlines will provide a strong start for gaining the qualifications you will likely need to be successful in this career.

creative director

Creative director job requirements

Even though creative directors can work in graphic design, film, fashion, media, they are usually found in advertising, where they develop the client’s strategy, assign projects to staff, and meet deadlines. As a creative director, you might help with research or oversee product design, but you may be performing a wide variety of tasks–these can include anything from shaping an entire ad campaign to designing coupons.

Creative directors need strong communication and management skills, since they work with and direct a wide variety of people. They also must be able to make sure projects meet their deadlines and that each client’s needs are met. Flexibility is a must, since travel is often necessary, and some projects may require long hours.

Education for creative directors

Creative directors may need a bachelor’s degree in art, graphic design, or a related field. Coursework will usually be in liberal arts, since many creative directors work in graphic design, film, advertising, media, or entertainment. Being a creative director usually requires at least seven years of experience in one of these industries, because experience is needed to troubleshoot problems and ensure the completion of a successful project.

Creative director jobs

Professionals entering the field can benefit by applying within job sectors hiring the greatest number of creative directors. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the following were the top three job sectors hiring the most creative directors:

  • Advertising, public relations, and related services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers

Job growth

Employment as a creative director is expected to grow about as fast as average. But since these positions are coveted, be prepared to compete for one. You also may need to relocate; according to the BLS, the states with the best employment prospects for a creative director are New York, California, Illinois, Texas, and Florida.

What does a Director do?

Directors provide the creative vision for theatrical, broadcast and movie productions. To create scenes that keep audiences involved and entertained, successful directors need a unique combination of talent, creativity, technical, business and management skills.


Directors are responsible for interpretation of the script, guidance of the cast members and management of the entire production from start to finish.

Directors typically audition actors, select cast members, conduct rehearsals and coordinate the activities of the production crew. They make scores of creative decisions:

  • Characterization and movements of the actors
  • Design of sets, costumes, lighting
  • Use of music, sound effects, orchestration, choreography
  • Script changes
  • Camera angles, film editing, special effects
  • Settings or film locations

Depending on the size and type of production, a director might oversee anywhere from a handful of actors up to a “cast of thousands”. Also dependent on the size of the production is the need for assistant directors, who may coordinate activities at a second location or help give cues to actors or crew members. Directors need to keep a close eye on finances and are ultimately accountable to the executive producer for staying within an established budget.

Training for a career as a director

Competition for directing positions is fierce, so formal education is advised. You might pursue a bachelor’s degree in film, theater, radio and television broadcasting, or communications. Some universities offer degrees in film direction. Additional course work might include stage directing, play writing, design or dramatic literature.

Many aspiring directors gain experience in a related field like acting or writing, or learn on-the-job by assisting established directors. Some start their careers with small local or independent productions and progress to larger venues.

New York and Los Angeles may be the “Big Time” for stage, screen and television productions, but you can find directing opportunities across the country in regional theaters, repertory groups, indie film or video companies, local or cable television studios.

Prospective directors can even direct commercials, make corporate or educational videos, or oversee dramatic productions at resorts, universities or community theaters.

Career outlook for directors

Employment for directors is expected to grow at a rate of about 10 percent, as reported by Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued development of interactive media, portable electronic devices, online movies and cable television operations should fuel the need for directors.

It’s worth noting that many directors’ salaries are covered by collective bargaining through unions like Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) for stage directors and Director’s Guild of America for film and television directors.

What does a Director of Development do?

As director of development, you can nearly be the star of your own show! The director of development is a top-spotlight professional spanning a range of career titles, including director of community development, director of industrial relations, and director of human resources. Do a quick Internet-news search on “director of development” to see how this career makes the spotlight:

  • “Urban Mission Fills New Director of Development Position”–It is a big role and inquiring minds want to know.
  • “EDC Director Says Economic Recovery in Area is Slow”–The director of development must ease concerns of employees, investors, and anyone else who might be concerned.
  • “Director of Community Development is Fired”–In this high-stakes job, you are held to high standards. Of course, the spotlight is no fun in these instances.

director of development

If you are ready for the spotlight, find out more about becoming a director of development

To shine in this profession, it is vital for you to have the following qualities:

  • Communication genius, on paper and in person
  • Master of tact, as in, no gossiping (especially about employees)
  • Natural-born (or at least well-learned) leader for your specific director title, because to direct means to lead
  • Hard worker. Yes, it is good to be this for virtually any position. But you will work hard as a director of development, sometimes more than 40 hours a week
  • Fantastic fundraiser. This will especially be essential if you direct a non-profit organization

Taking the right classes: director of development education

Your education will be important, too, to prepare you for the career and to make you stand out in the resume pile. Most often, to be a director, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, and some employees require masters’ degrees. But there are multiple paths toward this career, and directors of development come from diverse backgrounds. However, degrees and/or courses in the human resources, industrial/labor relations, business administration and social sciences can best prepare you for the career. Knowing a second language is also helpful; and in some jobs, technical or scientific backgrounds–such as in computer science, engineering, law, or finace–are desired in candidates.

Director of development job outlook and salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that, for human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists, job growth is expected to be excellent: 22 percent job growth is projected. Jobs in the non-profit sector (advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations) are projected to grow by 14 percent during the same period.

Some of the top earning director of development careers include:

  • Human resources managers
  • Training and development managers
  • Public relations and fundraising managers
  • Administrative services managers

As you begin your new career, keep in mind that salaries vary by industry, geography and employer.