Film Director: Job & Career Information

Mar 01, 2019

Career Definition for a Film Director

Film directors oversee the overall production of a film. Responsibilities may include interpretation of the script, casting, camera angles, sound mixing, and editing. Recent graduates of film directing and filming programs generally move to where the majority of the work in film directing and filmmaking is located: New York or Los Angeles.

Required Education Not required, but a bachelor's degree in film studies or direction may be helpful
Required Skills Creativity, leadership, business skills, camera operation and organization
Career Outlook (2016 to 2026)* 12% growth (producers and directors)
Mean Annual Salary (2017)* $90,770 (producers and directors)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Many film directors complete a bachelor's degree program in film studies or film direction. Film directing is closely related to screenwriting and cinematography. Alternatives to formal education in filmmaking include related vocational and apprenticeship programs. Aspiring film directors may also take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities provided by professional film directing and filming associations that include on-set experience.

Skills Required

Film directors should know how to be diplomatic so that they can deal with cast, crew, studio staff, and executives effectively. They typically seek out opportunities where they can use their creative and visionary skills to transform a written script into a filmed motion picture. 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, which depend upon job type, employer and many other factors. Despite faster than average expected job growth of 12% from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), competition is stiff and professionals with experience will be the most likely to find work. The BLS reported the mean annual salary of producers and directors as $90,770, or $43.64 per hour, on average, 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. Strong competition for jobs and related on-set opportunities can be expected, since the number of qualified graduates outpaces the number of positions available, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Those interested in other aspects of film production- such as acting and editing- can find options below. Some directors may even begin their careers in these positions.


Those who decide they'd rather be on the opposite end of the camera and interpret scripts to entertain audiences might consider becoming actors. Although a formal postsecondary education isn't required, classes in acting, music and dance may be helpful. Faster than average employment growth of 12% was predicted by the BLS during the 2016 to 2026 decade. Most actors work part-time, and employment can be difficult to secure. The BLS reported an average hourly wage of $17.49 in 2017.

Film and Video Editor

Through a bachelor's degree program and on-the-job training as an assistant film editor, these editors learn to compose final products from multiple captured images. Faster than average employment growth of 17% was projected by the BLS from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, these editors earned an average of $83,950 per year, or $40.36 per hour, the BLS reported.

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