Casting Director: Job Description, Duties and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a casting director. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties, and experience needed to find out if this is the career for you.

Casting directors can begin a career without a formal education, although a bachelor's degree will increase job prospects. Experience is crucial in this field, and can be gained by working as an intern or a casting director assistant.

Essential Information

Production companies and studios hire casting directors, also called talent directors, to spearhead the casting process for commercial and print advertisements, theater productions, television shows, and films. Formal education is not required, but casting directors must have strong interpersonal and communication skills, and an eye for acting ability.

Required Education None required, however bachelor's or some education recommended for increased opportunities
Other Requirements Related experience usually needed
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% for producers and directors
Median Annual Salary (2016)** $103,277 for talent directors

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

According to the Casting Society of America (CSA), casting directors work directly for studios and production companies, and their agencies function like human resource departments. Casting directors typically work on a freelance basis, charging a set fee for each production in which they're involved. They must possess strong interpersonal and communication abilities, because they work closely with producers, directors, writers, casting agents, and talent agencies. Being a casting director also requires a flexible schedule, because the job requires long hours and often frequent travel to find talent or meet with producers, directors, and other key production staff.

Job Duties

Casting directors read scripts and collaborate with producers, directors, and writers to create breakdown notices, which are brief descriptions of the physical attributes, skills, and experience sought in actors to portray particular characters. With the aid of casting assistants, casting directors submit these breakdown notices to agents and talent agencies. Casting directors then receive actors' headshots and resumes, which they must sift through to select the most qualified actors and schedule them for auditions, often with the help of casting assistants.

Depending on the size and scope of a production, a casting director may hold an initial round of auditions and personally decide which actors to call back for the producer and director. After each round of auditions, the casting director becomes responsible for notifying and scheduling selected actors for additional rounds of auditions, until a final casting decision is made. Although the decision of which actors to cast is ultimately up to directors or producers, casting agents often directly influence the decision of which actor is cast for a particular role.

Educational Requirements

Formal education isn't required to become a casting director, but experience is necessary. Many casting directors begin their careers as casting assistants to CSA casting directors, by apprenticing for casting agents or as interns for talent agencies and production companies. Individuals seeking careers as casting directors can increase their opportunities by completing bachelor's degree programs or taking classes in theater or film production, acting, or business.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, talent directors earned a median salary of $103,277 as of October 2016. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of casting direction, the BLS did project that the employment of producers and directors would likely grow by about 9% between 2014 and 2024, a rate that's faster than the average predicted for all occupations.

A casting director finds the right actor for the role they're seeking to fill, and they need strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work long hours. They primarily learn on the job as an assistant or intern, and a degree in theater, film production or business may be helpful in this field. Producers and directors, including casting directors, can expect to see a faster-than-average increase in job opportunities through 2024.

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