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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 Lighting Designer do?

Lighting designers conceptualize, create and plan lighting designs for a wide variety of industries. A lighting designer can work in fields such as the theater, film and television industries, as well as special event coordinating, retail store display and residential and commercial interior design.

lighting designer

A lighting designer is often required to have both engineering skills and a creative outlook, as they are often responsible for capturing a particular mood in a space. Though there are a wide range of avenues to pursue, a lighting designer is often knowledgeable about design and function.

Educational requirements of a lighting designer

All employers for lighting designers will require a different amount of education and experience. To become a lighting designer in the interior design or retail display industries, you typically need at least an associate or bachelor’s degree. However, most design firms will also require postsecondary education from a professional design school. In addition, many interior design firms also require a designer to take a qualifying exam and become licensed by the state.

The motion picture and video industries, on the other hand, tend to look for an applicant with more hands-on training. In this field, an entry-level lighting designer may work on documentaries and educational videos to gain experience.

Career paths of a lighting designer

A lighting designer can pursue a number of careers after completing the necessary education requirements and training. Interior designers that focus on lighting design can work independently or with a design firm. They can be responsible for creating lighting solutions for both residential and commercial spaces.

A lighting designer that pursues a career in the theater, motion picture or video industries can be responsible for the lighting of a play, movie, television show or commercial. They can work with production companies and directors to create lighting effects that are unique and aesthetically appealing.

Job outlook of a lighting designer

Though there are a wide variety of industries a lighting designer can pursue, many are expected to have ample competition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Students have an increasing interest in many of these fields, especially high-paying positions in the motion picture, television and interior design industries. All three of these fields are expected to grow between 14 and 19 percent.

California and New York have both the highest concentration of these positions but also the highest salaries.