Design master. Magnificent mediator. Highly skilled multitasker. A great creative director brings it all to the party.

What does a creative director do? To start, they use their expertise and guidance to make sure creative team members work together like a well-oiled machine, consistently cranking out genius deliverables, meeting deadlines and landing work from desirable clients.

The best creative departments have a director who knows the ins and outs of marketing and advertising — and who can manage the creative visionaries and their various projects.

Here’s a look at the job description, required experience and salary of the typical creative director.

A closer look at the job of a creative director

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. But in most cases, the creative director job description includes:

  • 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

Creative director salary projections

The Robert Half Salary Guide lists the midpoint starting salary projections for creative directors in design and production management.

You can use the Salary Guide to search for and select the city nearest you to automatically adjust salaries for regional cost of living, talent availability and other factors. If no selection is made, salaries will default to the national average.


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 — creative director job descriptions typically ask for at least five to eight years of experience. 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. Successful creative directors have polished soft skills that enable them to inspire creativity and work well with different personality types — all while juggling various projects.