CK Logo

How to Become a Creative Director

If you enjoy content creation and leadership, then you might be interested in working as a creative director. Creative directors are in charge of a company’s content strategy, especially in visuals and advertising. This is a sought-after job, as companies strive to build successful digital marketing strategies.

If you think this job is right for you, read on to see the practical steps you should take to pursue a career in creative design.

What Is a Creative Director?

Creative directors play a strategic role in planning and monitoring the creative process of a project. They work alongside other professionals such as copywriters, art directors, web designers, and graphic designers. This is a senior position that involves a lot of innovation and resilience.

Creative directors usually work in the digital marketing department, or with an advertising team. As such, this job usually requires that you have some formal education in marketing or advertising.

What Does a Creative Director Do?

A creative director is a leader who determines the creative or artistic vision of a project. This creative vision may be expressed in the form of a website, video game, or fashion line. It is their job to make sure the vision is coherent and clear to all departments involved.

The creative director acts as a project manager, determining schedules, establishing budgets, and coordinating all tasks with the team. A creative director is like a bridge between the client and their team. Therefore, they are responsible for translating the client’s vision into tasks for the team to complete.

Below are some of the main responsibilities of a creative director.

Advertising Planning

The most important task of a creative director is to develop strategies. They should have a vision in mind and should know which strategies to use to execute it. This is done by communicating with the client and other team members in order to set realistic goals.

Monitoring Campaigns

The creative director needs to keep up with trends and identify possible issues in a project and address them in a timely manner. Monitoring campaigns is vital to success.

Shaping Brand Standards

Creative directors don’t have a single formula that will work for all types of companies. They develop strategies tailored to a client’s needs. That’s why it’s so important for creative directors to understand a company’s vision for a project. Once it is clear what a client wants, the creative director should be able to develop a strategy that will work.

Essential Creative Director Skills

There are many qualities that can help you become a strong creative director, such as work experience or a bachelor’s degree. However, it also takes a lot of soft skills to become successful in creative direction. Below are some skills that are crucial to succeeding in this career.


As a creative director, you will be leading a team every day, so you must have leadership skills. This will help you keep an eye on workflow and make sure your team members are achieving their goals. All members of the team should be able to meet deadlines and complete their assigned tasks.


Communication is key. You’ll need to act as a bridge between the client and the rest of the creative team. To keep people on track to meet deadlines, all parties must understand one another.


It may seem somewhat obvious but it’s worth mentioning that the most important part of being a creative director is creativity. If you’re going to be working in this position, you’ll need to be a problem-solver, an innovator, and a resilient professional.

Creative Director Salaries and Job Outlook

Creative directors are key players in many companies. For that reason, it’s not surprising to see that the demand for creative directors will grow by up to eight percent in coming years, according to

Since creative directors are in high demand, they also have a high salary. Payscale recently reported that the average annual salary for this position is $88,934.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Creative Director?

You should have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing, or a related career to work as a creative director. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree usually takes about four years. After that, you’ll need to gain experience in your field.

When applying for jobs, you may notice that most creative director job descriptions require you to have five to seven years of experience. However, there are some exceptions.

How to Become a Creative Director: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve learned some of the basics of working as a creative director, you can tell if it’s something you would like to pursue seriously. Below, we listed the steps you should follow to become a creative director.

  1. Go for Your Bachelor’s Degree. The first step to becoming a creative director is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You may choose to major in communications, journalism, graphic design, or another related field. This step takes about four to five years, but it is indispensable in your journey toward getting a job as a creative director.

    While completing your bachelor’s degree, you may also want to attend a digital marketing bootcamp to develop a strong foundation in advertising.
  2. Get Some Experience. Now that you’ve earned your degree, it is time to build up work experience. In this step, you will not hold the title of creative director. Still, you must start getting experience in the field you majored in.

    Think about it as another step toward your goal. Some creative directors start as team members in a creative department and are promoted later to the position they desire.
  3. Build Your Portfolio. As you gain more experience, you will need to update your portfolio. It’s important to keep your CV up-to-date to show potential employers that you’re ready for the job. It can take years to land a creative director role, so you make sure you are showcasing the experience that will help you reach your goal.
  4. Get a Master’s DegreeGetting a master’s degree could increase your possibilities of landing a job as a creative director. You should consider studying for a master’s degree in arts or fine arts with a specialization in visual arts, communication, or marketing. It’s not required, but these extra two years of education could potentially increase your odds of finding a high-paying job.
  5. Job Hunt. You are now ready to start looking for a job as a creative director. Now that you have the education, skills, and experience you need, you can begin your job hunt by applying for jobs at marketing and advertising firms, or communication companies.

    After you land your dream job, you may want to look even further ahead. Some creative directors go on to become chief marketing officers, business development directors, or marketing managers.

Required Education to Become a Creative Director

To become a creative director you should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, graphic design, journalism, communication, or the arts. Then, if you want to increase your chances of landing a job, you may choose to study for a master’s degree in arts, fine arts, or business administration. In any case, your degree should focus on visual arts, communication, or marketing.

With the rapid advance of technology, most creative directors find it necessary to level up their skills to keep up with the latest tech trends. This means you might also want to expand your knowledge of computer science by taking a UX design bootcamp or web development course.

Best Programs and Courses to Become a Creative Director

To become a creative director you must have a bachelor’s degree. However, you can also use training programs and bootcamps to complement your formal education.

For example, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, you may want to study a graphic design course. If you’re a journalist but know nothing about marketing, you might want to take a digital marketing course. This way, you’ll have most of the important creative director skills covered. Below are some of the training programs you should consider.

  • Digital marketing
  • UX Design
  • Graphic design
  • Advertising
  • Film
  • Video production
  • Game development

Creative Director Certificates

Unlike other careers, creative directors don’t need to be certified to work. However, for those who want to further develop their career, it is possible to get certified.

Obtaining a certification can provide you with more credibility and self-esteem. As an additional bonus, getting certified will provide you with access to valuable resources, career development opportunities, and special networking events. Some of the institutions that offer creative director certifications are listed below.

  • The Society of Illustrators, Artists, and Designers
  • Graphic Arts Guild
  • The International Council of Design
  • The American Institute of Graphic Arts

Should You Become a Creative Director in 2020?

Becoming a creative director is a well-paid leadership position that many people aspire to. As a creative director, you will be able to work in the marketing department of many reputable companies.

If you’re creative and have communication and leadership skills, you should definitely consider a career as a creative director. It is an entertaining profession that will lead to a rewarding career.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to spend years to prepare and gain experience in the field. This will equip you with the problem-solving skills necessary to face challenges while working on professional projects.


How many hours do creative directors work?
Creative directors work about 40 hours a week. It is usually a full-time job, so you will often have to dedicate long hours to each of your projects, often working on more than one at a time.
What is the difference between art directors and creative directors?
This is an interesting question, as many people use the terms interchangeably. However, art directors and creative directors are not the same. An art director focuses on aesthetics, visual styles, or packaging. A creative director leads the operation by planning content strategies, delegating tasks, and monitoring and executing campaigns. While one of them focuses on the artistic view and the best styles, the other is in charge of managing the team.
Who does a creative director report to?
A creative director is the leading professional in the creative or marketing department. They are in charge of everything related to the content strategy. However, although they have a lot of freedom in their tasks, they must still report to the company’s chief marketing officer.
Get matched to top bootcamps