Movie Director: Career Summary, Job Outlook and Education Requirements

Explore what it takes to become a movie director. Explore the education requirements, job duties, salary potential and job outlook to determine if this is the right career choice for you. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Movie Director?

A movie director is the leader of a film project, working from pre-production to post-production in order to complete the film. They are the ones responsible for all of the creative decisions of the production. This requires them to work closely with set designers, fashion designers and art directors to create the desired visual effects for the movie. Movie directors may need to conduct research on various topics to prepare for a movie and have an understanding of its subject. They will also work with actors to develop characters and help them deliver the desired performance. After filming the movie, the directors will work with film editors and music supervisors to prepare the final product. The chart below outlines the education and experience requirements, earning potential and job growth projections for a career as a movie director or producer.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree is typical; associate's degrees are available
Education Field of Study Film studies or related field
Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% (for all producers and directors)*
Median Salary (2018) $71,680 (for all producers and directors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Movie Director Do?

As a movie director, you interpret scripts and talk with writers to rewrite the scenes to suit your vision. Directors work with numerous professionals on the set of a film, including actors, lighting operators, cameramen and boom operators. You oversee every aspect to be sure they are producing the result you want. Working with the producer, you select the actors for the cast and the various locations for the film shoot. You have the final say on costumes, music, effects and sets.

Additional tasks include selecting the lighting equipment and props that will be used throughout the filming process. For direction, you should know the movie magic and filming techniques that provide special effects without computer-generated imagery (CGI).

What Is the Job Outlook?

The entertainment business is a highly competitive profession, and competition for jobs is fierce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018, there were roughly 118,630 producers and directors working around the country ( The BLS expects an increase of five percent in job opportunities between 2018 and 2028.

The majority of films are produced in New York City and Los Angeles, although there are production companies across the country. The BLS reports that the annual median salary in May 2018 for directors and producers was $71,680. This figure can be misleading, however, since it includes the salaries of high-profile, multimillion-dollar Hollywood directors. Because of these multi-million dollar productions, directors and producers were paid the most in California and New York.

What Education Requirements Will I Need?

Directors come from all walks of life. Some directors are former actors who use their experience to become directors, while others are fortunate enough to have family members in the industry and can break in very easily.

Many 2-year and 4-year colleges offer film and video programs. These programs are beneficial to understanding the theories of film production. College programs allow you to build your own student projects, putting you behind the camera and in charge of a student film. You'll need to be persistent, hard-working and motivated to make it in this field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in other related careers may consider the positions of art directors, top executives and writers or authors. All of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Art directors develop and maintain a desired visual style for a form of media, such as a movie or magazine. Top executives work to help an organization reach its goals. They do this by coordinating daily activities, creating strategies and enforcing policies. Writers and authors create written content on an array of subjects in different forms of media, such as blogs, scripts or books.

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