Art Director: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become an art director. Learn about degree requirements, career outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Art Director?

Art directors oversee creative presentations for advertisements, films, publications or websites, among other media. They develop visual concepts for ideas or messages that need to be portrayed. They select the art or pictures that will be used, as well as create and maintain an overall style throughout the project. Art directors work closely with their clients, film directors and other creative assistants to create the desired effects. Their work must often be approved by the client, director or other executives. In addition to a bachelor's degree in an art-related discipline, most of these professionals have five or more years of experience in the field. In the table below, learn about some of the job skills and degree requirements, as well as employment projections and median salary for this highly competitive field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Art, design
Key Skills Creativity, leadership, time management, communication
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $89,760*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Art Directors

Artists frequently hone their skills through postsecondary training. According to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, several hundred colleges and universities offer degrees in art. As a future art director, you may find pursuing a degree in art administration or management to be helpful.

Art directors usually begin as entry-level designers and artists in motion picture, design, publishing and advertising firms. You may make the step up to art director after having demonstrated strong leadership and artistic abilities.

Job Duties

Art directors develop and design concepts and review material that will appear in periodicals, motion pictures, design, advertising and publishing outlets. They control the main visual thrust of a project in such fields as publishing and advertising. They decide how best to present a concept visually, so that it is appealing, organized and eye-catching.

Art directors decide which art work or photographs to pick and manage the layout, design and production of materials. Art directors create art which conveys feelings, ideas or thoughts. Unlike some fine artists, art directors tend to work regular hours in clean, well-ventilated surroundings.

Portfolio Development

Like many fields, skill and talent can open some doors. A portfolio of art is useful for any aspiring art director. It shows a prospective employer samples of your best work. As an artist, if you experiment and embrace new ideas, in the pursuit of your style, you may see career growth.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The median yearly income for art directors in 2015 was $89,760. Employment of artists and art directors was predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow 2% from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Like all jobs in the arts, the competition is fierce. If, as an art director, you develop a striking visual style, you may see your income and career grow.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several other related jobs involving creativity that require a bachelor's degree, such as fashion design, writing and graphic design. Fashion designers create sketches and select materials for new clothing. They may also design shoes or accessories. Writers and authors provide the written content for things like books, magazines, blogs or even songs. Graphic designers may help provide some of the visual concepts that an art director asks for. They may use a computer to design images for magazines, brochures and more.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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