Film or Television Director Career Information

Mar 01, 2019

Find out about the career of film and television directing. Learn about the education, skills, salary and employment outlook to determine if this occupation is the right one for you.

Career Definition for Film or Television Director

Film directors are responsible for overseeing the overall production of a film. Job duties may include interpreting scripts, casting talent, determining film style and camera angles, mixing sound and editing. Since the majority of the work in filmmaking is located in New York and Los Angeles, recent graduates may want move to where the work is.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in cinema production or film directing recommended
Job Duties Making decisions about filming, casting, style, editing and other aspects of a film
Median Salary (2017)* $71,620 (for all producers and directors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 12% (for all producers and directors)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Film directing is closely related to screenwriting and cinematography, and many film directors hold a bachelor's or master's degree in cinema production or film directing. Film directors can also get into the field through on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. Aspiring film directors can find bachelor's and master's degree programs in film directing, filming and film studies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that stage directors may complete a Master of Fine Arts through one of more than 150 National Association of Schools of Theater-accredited schools. Students may take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities provided by film directing and filming associations that include on-set experience. They can also work for small local theater houses and move up the ladder. Other paths to becoming a film director include technical school or apprenticeship work.

Skills Required

Film directors seek out opportunities where they can use their creative and visionary skills to transform a written script into a filmed motion picture. Film directors should be diplomatic so that they can deal with cast, crew, studio staff and executives effectively. Film directors also need solid technical and business skills like camera operation, budgeting and organizational skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Film directors can expect a wide range of salaries that depend upon job type, employer and many other factors. Work opportunities can be sporadic and not always well paid despite faster-than-average expected job growth from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, The BLS reported the median annual salary among producers and directors as $71,620 in May 2017. However, film directors may earn a lot less if they are working on small independent films that are not part of the union system. Film directors can expect strong competition for jobs and related on-set opportunities, as the number of qualified graduates may outpace the number of positions available.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary for a film or television director can also be applied to other similar occupations.


Many announcers have bachelor's degrees and experience in communications, broadcasting or journalism. Announcers who often host music, sports and news programs, or sometimes interview guests, could expect a decline of 9%, from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. Radio and television announcers earned an annual median salary of $32,459 in 2017, the BLS reported.

Set and Exhibit Designer

Creating sets for television, movies or the theater, these designers often have bachelor's degrees in theater, scenic design or set design. The BLS projected faster-than-average job growth of 10% from 2016-2026. In 2017, set and exhibit designers earned an annual median wage of $53,090, per the BLS.

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