Breaking into the television industry as a director is extremely difficult due to the relatively low number of positions available. Fortunately, there are degree programs that prepare aspiring directors in the fundamentals of film and television directing. These degree programs include the Bachelor of Arts in TV & Film Production and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in TV & Film Production.
The 4-year bachelor's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED, satisfactory SAT or ACT scores and some film samples. MFA programs require completion of a bachelor's degree in a related field, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing samples and work portfolio.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Television & Film Production
The Bachelor of Arts degree program in Television and Film Production provides students with an introduction to the fundamentals of directing for television. Students in the program learn how to operate digital HD cameras as well as the fundamentals of cinematography for television. Other courses emphasize working with actors and editing raw footage into a cohesive television program. The program requires that students gain practical experience in television production. Some class work will be devoted to television history and production theory.
Courses for an undergraduate degree in television production emphasize all aspects of the production process. Possible courses include:
- Directing for television
- Writing for television
- Sound recording
- Industrial production practices for television
Master of Fine Arts Degree in Television & Film Production
The MFA program emphasizes hands-on experience and expertise with regards to all aspects of television production. Students receive training in screenwriting, cinematography, directing and editing. Numerous projects in addition to the final project will be required. The purpose of these production projects is to demonstrate proficiency in the field of television direction and visual storytelling ability. Some programs will allow students to specialize in some aspect of film and television production.
MFA classes offer practical hands-on experience in every facet of television directing and production. Potential courses include:
- Television production
- Film and television directing
- Sound design
- Advanced editing techniques
- Television pre-production
Popular Career Options
There is a slim chance that graduates of a television production degree program break into the industry as directors. Graduates typically find entry-level jobs and work their way up the production ladder. Some possible career outcomes for bachelor's degree-holders include:
- Key grip
- Production assistant
- Camera operator
The MFA in film and television production prepares graduates for a range of careers in the television industry including:
- Television director
- Television producer
- Community college instructor
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of producers and directors is expected to grow by about 9% between the years of 2014 and 2024. This growth of employment is slower than the average growth for all jobs in the U.S.
The television and film industry has traditionally been difficult to break into. However, public demand for television shows and movies is high. The BLS reports that the annual average salary for those in the motion picture and video industries, as of May 2015, was $105,550; the average salary for those in the radio and television broadcasting industry was $72,020 (www.bls.gov).
Students aspiring to become television directors could enroll in a Bachelor of Arts in TV & Film Production or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in TV & Film Production, and equip themselves with basic and advanced skills needed in TV directing. Graduates could land support crew jobs, and later on build a director's career in the TV production industry.