Magazine Art Director: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a magazine art director. Learn about job responsibilities, education and skill requirements, and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Magazine Art Director?

Magazine art directors decide what images to put on publication covers and how to arrange the articles on a page. They are also responsible for creating and maintaining an overall visual style throughout the publication. To do this, they help figure out the best way to represent different concepts visually, and work closely with graphic designers and other creative workers as they develop page layouts and images. Magazine art directors also have administrative duties, including managing budgets and coordinating deadlines. Their work is often approved by the magazine's editors prior to publication. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree required, master's degree optional for advancement
Skills Required Creativity, detail orientation, planning and organizational skills, problem solving capabilities, ability to work within a team
Key Responsibilities Oversee design and presentation of written content, photographs, and graphics, hire and manage staff, meet with clients, collaborate with production managers and creative directors
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for all art directors)*
Average Salary (2015) $87,170 (for all art directors in newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishing)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Might I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art directors typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). Majors than can help you prepare for this career include graphic design and media arts, art history and visual arts. You also might consider undergraduate programs in communications, journalism or marketing.

Completing a master's program can help you advance in your career. For example, you might consider earning a Master of Science in Publishing with an emphasis in digital and print media. A Master of Science in Arts Administration could be helpful for pursuing magazine art director positions at nonprofit establishments, such as museums or universities.

What Might My Responsibilities Be?

As a magazine art director, you likely would oversee the design and presentation of written content, photographs and graphics. You also might hire and manage a staff of graphic designers, copywriters and editors.

Additionally, you could meet with clients to determine project expectations, gather information and discuss budget. You might liaise with production managers and creative directors to share ideas and coordinate assignments. Traveling to photo shoots and printing facilities might be necessary to ensure that production standards are being met.

What Skills Might I Need?

As a magazine art director, you'll need to be creative and detailed-oriented. These skills can help with developing original concepts and ensuring that print materials are free of errors. Having strong planning and organizing skills is important to complete projects in a timely manner. Additionally, good problem-solving skills can be helpful in resolving client and vendor issues.

Working as a magazine art director involves collaborating with various departments, so being team-oriented and able to communicate with all levels of employees is important. You also may interact with clients regularly, so good relationship building, negotiation and presentation skills are needed.

The technical aptitude to use various design and editing software may be essential to your job. Strong math and accounting skills may also be needed to balance budgets.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the BLS, art directors in the publishing industry earned a mean annual salary of $87,170 as of May 2015. Salaries for this position can vary by education level, years of experience and geographic region. For example, the BLS reported that art directors in major media and publishing regions like New York earned a mean annual wage of $128,750 as of May 2015. At the same time, art directors in Pennsylvania earned a mean annual salary of $75,200.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Craft and fine artists, fashion designers and writers and authors are a few of the related careers that require at least a bachelor's degree and some creativity. Craft and fine artists create an array of art pieces that they sell and/or display. They may create paintings, sculptures, glasswork and more. Fashion designers design and create new clothing and accessories. They oversee their design's production and sell their finished pieces to retailers or consumers. Writers and authors write about a huge variety of subjects for things like songs, books, articles, advertisements and more.

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