Art DirectorJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Do you have a keen eye for design, a knack for directing innovative talent, and strong organizational skills? A position as an Art Director is a rewarding, creative role that might be perfect for you.

Art Directors are instrumental in creating the visual language and style of advertising campaigns, magazines, product packaging and branding, film, and television productions.

In addition to creating the overall look for a company’s products and marketing, Art Directors manage a team of designers and artists that develop day-to-day assets to bring that vision to life.

A great Art Director must be able to think creatively and critically to determine the best way to represent concepts visually. He or she must also be able to talk with clients to devise a complete artistic approach to a project, as well as speak to and defend his team’s work during client presentations.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced Art Director with a passion for creativity and an eye for design to lead our highly skilled art department. An art director must have exceptional leadership skills in order to guide projects and communicate their vision effectively to others. The ideal candidate has artistic and marketing experience that will aid in promoting our company brand. If you have the vision to identify what speaks to consumers and the ability to inspire others to clearly execute that vision, you may be the right fit for our company.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Determine and develop the visual style of advertising campaigns, publications, and other visual elements for the client
  • Manage design staff and collaborate with other creatives
  • Create detailed timelines and budgets for the creative team
  • Review and approve the artwork, photography, and graphic designs produced by design staff
  • Select photography, artwork, designs, and other visual elements for layout
  • Coordinating multiple projects simultaneously to product quality content and meet client deadlines
  • Present creative concepts and finished projects to clients for review

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in fine art, digital media, visual communication, photography, or a similar field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • ong attention to detail
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Proficiency with industry-standard tools, such as Adobe Creative Cloud

Preferred qualifications

  • Good communication and organization skills
  • Basic mastery of relevant graphic design software
  • Ability to effectively handle pressure and responsibility

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for an art director is $89,250 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$88,750$120,100
Los Angeles, California$100,150$135,500
Denver, Colorado$83,450$112,900
Washington, DC$101,650$137,550
Miami, Florida$83,050$112,400
Orlando, Florida$76,600$103,650
Tampa, Florida$77,400$104,700
Atlanta, Georgia$81,150$109,800
Chicago, Illinois$93,300$126,250
Boston, Massachusetts$100,900$136,500
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$80,400$108,800
New York City, New York$106,200$143,700
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$86,500$117,000
Dallas, Texas$84,200$113,950
Houston, Texas$83,450$112,900
Seattle, Washington$97,100$131,400
National Average$75,850$102,650

Typical work environment

Art directors work within a fast-paced office environment. There is a high level of social interaction involved with designers, photographers, artists, and clients. Art directors are often under strict deadlines to complete their work and often work in close proximity to others throughout the day.

Typical hours

The work hours for an Art Director are typically from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may, at times, be necessary.

Available certifications

Art directors do not have to be licensed or hold any kind of certification, however, being certified in an artistic field increases your chances of being hired for the position. These are the top certifications to consider for aspiring art directors:

  • Professional Certified Marketer (PCM). This certification equips you with the knowledge and skills to excel in a digital marketing landscape. These courses teach you about social media, email, and content marketing as well as leadership skills, digital strategy, and customer experience. You can gain a PCM through online courses that range from 30-120 hours of learning and it must be renewed every 3 years.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP). As a certified project management professional, you let employers know that you are capable of taking the lead in a team environment. Holding a PMP shows that you have experience with the people and processes required of managing a project. Before you can take the PMP exam, you must have at least 35 hours of project management course training and at least 36 months of project management experience. Your PMP certification is renewed every 3 years by either maintaining at least 60 hours of professional development during that time or retaking the exam.
  • Certified Interior Designer (NCIDQ). The NCIDQ is a way to verify your experience and skills in the realm of interior design. Gaining this certification consists of an exam with 3 sections – TheInterior Design Fundamentals Exam, The Interior Design Professional Exam, and The Interior Design Practicum Exam. You are required to have a certain level of secondary education in interior design and a certain amount of experience hours in interior design before you are eligible to take the NCIDQ exams for certification. This certification must be renewed every year.

Career path

The path toward a career as an Art Director begins by earning a bachelor’s degree in one of the art and design fields, such as visual communications, fine art, digital media, or photography.

Other essential requirements for any Art Director candidate include previous work experience and a strong creative portfolio. Depending on the industry, experience as an Editor, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, or Fine Artist will help put you in better shape to get hired for an Art Director role.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-1011

2020 Employment98,500
Projected Employment in 2030109,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% Increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift10,800 Increase

As the role of the Creative Director becomes less common in traditional ad agencies, Art Directors can step up to the plate. By working closely with Copywriters and Graphic Designers, a seasoned Art Director can create outstanding content — all while taking on more managerial tasks, as well.

Art Directors will continue to learn cross-disciplinary skills, such as copywriting and web development, to better collaborate with their creative teams. When Art Directors familiarize themselves with their team’s skillsets, they can more effectively communicate their creative vision, which leads to a more agile creative team — and a more productive one.

Sample interview questions

  • Who are your favorite designers?
  • What do you do in the first week of a project to learn about a new brand you’ve started working with?
  • In your opinion, what makes an ideal team member?
  • How do you keep up-to-date with the latest creative trends and tech? 
  • How influenced are you by current trends?
  • What’s the most challenging design project you’ve ever worked on?
  • How do you update your colleagues and clients about a late deadline?
  • How have you mentored or led colleagues on projects in the past?
  • What product would you like to design or redesign?
  • What tools do you rely on in your day-to-day work?
  • Has your design direction ever helped solve a business problem?
  • How do you keep your team motivated in the face of tight deadlines?
  • Describe a time you’ve reduced the scope of a project based on what your team could realistically accomplish.
  • How do you measure the success of your role within a project?
  • Which of our clients are you most interested in working with? Why?

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