Art Director: Employment Information & Requirements

Read about a career in art direction. Research the educational and skill requirements, and learn about the job description and employment and salary outlook for an art director.

Career Definition for an Art Director

Art directors oversee the creation of visual material for advertisements, print publications, product packaging, film productions and other outlets. Art directors typically manage other staff members, including designers, artists and writers. They may look over specific elements, such as design concepts, original or stock artwork, layouts and the stylistic components of written materials. They may also create budgets and deadlines, collaborate with other departments like copywriting or production and communicate with clients throughout the project's lifespan.

Most art directors work for advertising and public relations firms, print and online publications, design companies or the motion picture and entertainment industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that over half of art directors were self-employed in 2016. People in this position typically work full time and spend the majority of their time in an office or design studio.

Education Bachelor's degree in art
Job Skills Communication, creativity, leadership, time management
Median Salary (2017) $92,500 (all art directors)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 5% (all art directors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Art director positions typically require a bachelor's degree in an art or design major such as fine art, visual communications or digital media. Depending on their industry, art directors may have several years of work experience in graphic design, photography, illustration or other fields. Some art directors pursue a master's degree in fine arts or business administration to prepare for a leadership role.

Required Skills

According to the BLS, art directors need the following traits for success:

  • Excellent aesthetic judgment
  • Strong leadership skills to oversee the work of other artists
  • Creativity and superb communication to develop products that meet clients' needs
  • Ability to prioritize work and manage deadlines

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for art directors was $92,500 in 2017. Employment in the field was expected to grow 5% from 2016-2026, which was as fast as the national average for all occupations. Because the production of print publications is decreasing, new jobs will likely require interactive media skills, such as web page design.

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