What Are the Differences Between a Director and an Associate Director?

Directors and associate directors both belong to the management structure. In order to thoroughly understand the difference between the professions of director and associate director, this article would help you analyze the thin line that separates them. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Director vs. Associate Director at a Glance

Although 'director' and 'associate director' are two prominent positions in an organization or a company that sound pretty similar, they possess different roles, powers, and duties along with differing pay scale and scope. Both of these professionals may work for the same area of a company, organization or project, yet on ground level these two occupations have some basic differences.

Associate Director Director
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Business or finance Business or management
Key Skills Required Organization and development, knowledge of relevant regulations and quality standards, communication Strategic thinking, good judgment, vision and leadership, communication
Average Salary (2019)* $60,057 (for associate director, career services) $86,163 (for marketing director)
Job Growth (2016-26)** 10% ( for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers) 7% (for sales managers)

Sources: *Payscale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Who is an Associate Director, and What are their Key Responsibilities?

An associate director is a person in charge of planning or organizing day-to-day affairs in a particular department/area of a company or organization. They basically implement strategic plans to help complete various operations. The basic duties of an associate director include the following: supporting and executing the plans according to the standard of the company, overseeing business related development, maintaining relevant client information/data, managing day-to-day activities, and looking after the important deadlines related to projects and assignments of the company.

Who is a Director, and What are their Key Responsibilities?

A director, often elected by the shareholders in a company, is the person who basically leads or supervises a specific area/field. They are appointed to look after the business. The job responsibilities of directors include: forming policies and determining the objectives, keeping the property and all important records of the company safe, calling statuary and annual meetings, making necessary independent judgments in support of the overall growth and development of the company, and implementing the plans for the company by taking care of the budget. The directors are usually expected to have the ability to adapt and adjust, since in a profession like business, there are many variables, where it's natural to deviate from the original blueprint.

What are the Basic Differences?

To understand more clearly with an example, an associate director for a magazine company would basically be responsible for looking after the design and development of layout work needed for their magazine. They would work together with their other team members and decide the content, writing style (font, text format etc.) or photographs to be used. Therefore, the associate directors have to be creative and innovative in their respective field, while following the company's norms and standards.

In this same magazine company, the director would oversee and execute the overall ideas of the associate director and other management members. It is the director who takes care of the budget and recruitment of clients according to the planned proposals and ideas made by those team members. The associate director leads its subordinates through supervision and instructions, while the directors provide intrinsic leadership and direction to the other members and staff of the company.

What is the Career Path for These Professionals?

While working toward top level positions like director and associate director, individuals usually serve in various levels to gain experience, before finally achieving the management goal. For example, it may take a decade of experience to move from associate director to director, depending on the particular position and organization.

Where Might These Individuals Work?

These professions have a wide range and are not confined to only the corporate field. Associate directors and directors can also work for smaller businesses, organizations, events or even programs, such as cinema and art.

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