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Television Director: Career and Education Facts

Get career and education information for aspiring television directors. See what kinds of subjects you'll study as part of a degree program, how to choose a school and how to break into the field after graduation.

What You Need to Know

Because directors are involved in every facet of the television production process, many educational programs for aspiring directors devote much of their curriculum to technical and theoretical approaches to TV production. Many production-based directing degree programs focus on theater, film or video rather than TV. If you're passionate about directing only television, you may decide to pick a program that addresses the television industry and has an emphasis in directing.

Degrees Associate's, bachelor's and master's in film or a related field
Training Internships available; work as a writer, actor, film editor or other role within production
Median Salary (2017) $71,620 annually (for all producers and directors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Should I Select a Television Director Program?

Because they require less time to complete, associate's degree programs generally do not offer as many opportunities to practice directing for student projects. Bachelor's degree programs may provide more opportunities to take on various roles in a number of productions. If you want to pursue an in-depth study of directing, master's degree programs tend to culminate in a thesis project, which may be a television show or short film. Here are a few degree options to consider:

  • Associate in Arts in Broadcasting: Performance
  • Associate in Arts in Broadcasting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business/Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television
  • Bachelor of Science in Film and Television
  • Bachelor of Arts in Television Production and Studies
  • Master of Fine Arts in Production
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Producing

What Should I Consider When Looking for a School?

Facilities differ among schools and may affect your choices about a program. Some schools have rooms specifically designated for casting, shooting and other elements of production. You may want to consider how many cameras, lights and recording tools are available to students.

What Will I Study in a Television Director Program?

In a directing program, you can expect to explore various genres of television. Because directors work so closely with actors, you may also take an acting class. You will probably direct practice, student-produced pieces like news shows for class projects. Directing programs may cover the following topics:

  • Television history
  • Production
  • Directing actors
  • Directing cameras
  • Aesthetics of storytelling
  • Documentaries
  • Narratives
  • Film analysis
  • Cooking programs
  • Talk shows
  • Sitcoms

How Can I Prepare for My Career?

Directors need management skills. They are in charge of meeting deadlines on a project and making sure everyone is on task. You may want to get organizational and leadership practice through supervisory positions.

You may try to jump-start your career by working at on-campus TV stations. As a student, your work might be broadcast locally or online, giving you real-life experience as a director. Similarly, you could look for internships at television stations, where many directors begin their careers as production assistants.