What’s the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Creative Director?

Even if you decide to major in art and design because of a personal passion, it makes sense to aim for a career that is as lucrative as it is meaningful. One such career is creative director. The role of creative director in the field of graphic design is the highest paying career for art and design majors. Experienced creative directors earn a median annual salary of $84,700. To become a creative director, you must first earn a college degree.

Education for Aspiring Creative Directors

Creative directors are idea people. They lead teams of creative employees in developing and carrying out ideas in a creative industry, like graphic design, advertising, film and music. It’s essential that creative directors thoroughly understand the industry in which they work as well as skills like managing a team, making decisions, solving problems and providing criticism constructively. They must also handle the less creative tasks, like dealing with budgets and schedules, that are necessary for implementing ideas. The first step to gaining these skills and abilities is through college coursework. A good place for aspiring creative directors to begin their career preparation is to study in the field in which they intend to work. Because this is not an entry-level job, students should plan to work within the industry upon graduation and work their way up to the role of creative director. Some common courses of study for aspiring creative directors include graphic design, marketing, advertising, media, music or film. Other majors, like public relations or integrated marketing communication, may also provide students with valuable skills. Students can also improve their job opportunities by taking courses like digital design, even if those courses are not a required part of their degree program.

Attaining Experience

No matter how talented and passionate you are, don’t expect to start out as a creative director. Instead, you will have to gain experience in your field and prove yourself in the industry. Whether you work as a graphic designer, copywriter or member of the creative team in the development of film or music, you’re not just putting in time. You also need to develop additional skills, like the ability to focus on both the big picture of an idea and on the individual steps needed to implement it. In your interactions with a creative team, you can develop your teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills by taking on new responsibilities and having the mindset of a creative director, The Houston Chronicle reported. Creative director is a fulfilling and financially rewarding job, but students need to consider their entire career path before they choose what to study. Don’t choose to seek a creative director career in graphic design, for example, if you’re not willing to spend the time working your way up in the field of graphic design. The wide variety of career options for creative directors means that students can choose a major and industry about which they are truly passionate.

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