Design master. Magnificent mediator. Highly skilled multitasker. A great creative director brings it all to the party.
Who makes sure creative team members work together like a well-oiled machine, consistently cranking out genius deliverables, meeting deadlines and landing coveted work from desirable clients? It couldn’t happen without the expertise and guidance of a creative director.
The best creative departments have a person who knows the ins and outs of marketing and advertising — and who can herd cats, too. After all, someone has to manage the creative visionaries and their various projects.
Here’s a look at the typical job description and creative director salary expectations.
Creative director salary benchmarks
According to The Creative Group Salary Guide, the average creative director starting salary ranges from $99,500 to $143,500 for professionals with five to eight years of experience. For those with more than eight years of experience, the average creative director salary projection rises to $116,250 to $186,750. A creative director salary at advertising and marketing agencies is $114,000 to $186,250. You can use our Salary Calculator to adjust these creative director salary figures for your city.
Creative director duties and expectations
The creative director guides all projects and is responsible for the overall quality of work produced by the creative department. Depending on industry focus and the company’s needs, the creative director’s role may shift. And while some creative directors take on a purely managerial role, others keep one foot in the trenches, helping to generate the big ideas and create concepts. But in most cases, the following responsibilities can be expected:
- Manage the creative process from concept to completion
- Translate marketing objectives into clear creative strategies
- Work closely with multidisciplinary project teams, particularly IT
- Lead and direct the creative team in the production of all marketing collateral
- Ensure visual communication and brand standards are met
- Oversee client pitches and proposals
- Oversee profitability, deliverables, timelines and budgets
- Meet with clients or upper management to explain campaign strategies and solutions
- Review work, troubleshoot and provide feedback to creative teams
- Remain actively involved in hiring and training creative staff
- Manage and cultivate the career development of staff members, including designers, art directors, copywriters, photographers and web developers
Professional experience and skills
Experience is a key prerequisite for a creative director position. We’re not talking about a year or two in the industry — for a creative director position, at least five to eight years of experience is generally required. Top candidates have a strong understanding of industry trends and creative tools, such as Adobe Creative Suite. Experience performing or managing a range of creative positions, such as graphic designer, art director and copywriter, is important. Expert knowledge of the business side of design is a major plus.
It’s essential that creative directors have stellar communication, presentation, problem-solving and project-management skills, too. The best creative directors have elevated soft skills that enable them to inspire creativity and work well with different personality types — all while juggling various projects.
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