What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Television or Film Producer?

Do you have a passion for motion pictures? Do you havethe business management skills to stick to a budget and a timeline? If so, a career as a producer for film or television could be right for you. Producers manage the business and financial side of creating a show or movie, from raising startup money to making sure the film or episode is completed on time. They also have a role in certain creative decisions, including:

  • choosing actors
  • picking and interpreting a script
  • overseeing costuming

While producers can start their careers from many different academic backgrounds, they typically have a formal college education. Deciding on a major that’s untraditional is a big decision, but it can be lucrative, since professionals in the arts and media industry earn an average of $2.3 million dollars over the course of their working lifetime.

Experience in TV and Film

For television and film producers, the major on their degree is typically less important than their experience in the entertainment industry. For several years, aspiring producers will need to gain experience and build a reputation in other roles. Some producers began their career in film or television as actors. Others started out behind the scenes as:

  • writers
  • animators
  • choreographers
  • editors

Still other aspiring producers begin working in assistant roles in studios and theatrical management offices, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From these roles, candidates may move into management positions or begin directing films and shows before they become responsible for the production aspect of making a motion picture.

Academic Options for an Aspiring Producer

Of course, higher education is still important for a career in film production. Because candidates enter the occupation from so many different backgrounds, students can choose from any number of majors. They should think about what path most appeals to them personally, because they will spend years doing other work before they get the opportunity to become producers. If an aspiring producer plans to enter the industry as an actor, majoring in acting or theatre could be appropriate. Screenwriters might start by studying writing, communication or journalism. Choreographers would naturally study dance, while animators would take courses in art.

If none of these options sounds particularly appealing to you, perhaps you would rather earn a bachelor’s degree that offers you a wider range of opportunities. Film is a common major for aspiring producers. It allows them to develop a strong background in film history and the process of creating motion pictures. Arts management and business are also popular choices.

Work as a producer allows professionals to combine management and creative skills to make a film or television project the best it can be. In addition to being exciting, the job can be financially rewarding. Producers and directors combined earn a median annual salary of $71,350. Those in the cable programming and motion picture industry can earn significantly more.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief