version 3, draft 3

How to Become a Creative Director in the US

On first thought, the position of a creative director appears similar to that art director. But on a deeper look, their roles are different. While creative directors develop unique ideas during the concept stage of a project, art directors oversee their execution through the end of the project. 

Creative directors can work in several industries, ranging from entertainment and fashion to advertising and graphic design.

What Do Creative Directors Do?

Although the specific duties of creative directors vary from industry to industry, they commonly perform the following tasks:

  • Consulting with project owners to identify their needs and preferences
  • Developing unique concepts and ideas
  • Hiring and supervising a creative team that may include writers, researchers, developers and producers
  • Establishing the creative direction for the project and ensuring it meets the required quality required
  • Motivating the creative team
  • Ensuring creative concepts are implemented on budget.

Work Environment

If you want a job with a 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday work schedule, then this is not the profession for you. Creative directors have long and irregular work hours. The need to hit tight deadlines means they have to work late into the evening and during the weekends. Although creative directors in the IT industry mostly work in an office environment, those in entertainment and fashion spend more time on production sites.


The average salary for creative directors in all industries is:

Job Level


Annual average Wage

Starting creative directors


$43,000 -$81,000

Experience creative directors


$81,000 - $110,000

Senior directors


$110,000 - $140,000

Source: Payscale

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for creative directors vary by industry. To get started, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields:

  • Fine arts
  • Markets
  • Computer science
  • Fashion and design
  • Film and media production

These degree programs will prepare you for a creative role in the industry you want to work in. It is important to note that along with a bachelor’s degree, your creative skills must be exceptional.

Since this is a senior position, it is impractical to graduate from college and focus on securing. You should begin in entry-level positions to gain the experience required to successfully perform the duties of a creative director.

While in college, you can volunteer in various projects, work in campus radio stations and secure internships to boost your experience level.

Finally, having a portfolio of your previous work can help you prove to employers that you possess the skills to become a creative director.

Important Qualities

To succeed as a creative director; you should possess the following skills and abilities:

  • Superb creative skills
  • The ability to innovate new products
  • Strong leadership skills
  • The ability to motivate other workers
  • Good critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Good IT Skills
  • Good analytical skills
  • Good decision-making skills
  • The ability to keep up with new creative technologies.

So, you are now a creative director. What next? There are always career development opportunities. However, the exact position you can aim at depends on your industry. In TV and film, for example, many creative directors progress to become TV or film producer and directors.

To boost your prospects of progressing in your career, you should:

Job Opportunities

As a qualified creative director you can look for jobs in:

  • Film production companies
  • Advertising agencies
  • Public relations firms
  • Media houses
  • Performing arts companies
  • Marketing firms.

Apart from becoming film and TV directors, professionals in marketing or graphic design could progress to jobs such as marketing manager and software design manager. Those who are looking to venture into private practice can establish their own creative production agencies.

Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS predicts a 3% job growth for all producer and directors. This means jobs in this profession are scarce. To succeed, you must invest in developing industry connections. Attend industry events and interact with established directors. This way, you will enhance your chances of knowing when a job opening comes up! Good luck.


Image: Ciao Domenica

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'





Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'

G up arrow
</script> </script>