Advertising Creative Director Job Description

An advertising creative director is a type of advertising manager. Advertising managers are responsible for directing the advertising campaign of a firm or group. Large firms and groups often divide their advertising departments into sub-departments including creative services, accounts, and media services departments. The advertising creative director oversees the creative services department.

Job Responsibilities

The creative services department usually consists of an art director, copy chief, designers, and associated staff, all overseen and directed by the advertising creative director. The department works on the development and presentation of advertising subject matter. It is responsible for writing copy, designing headlines, drawing advertisement storyboards, and other work involved in designing advertisements for a firm. In addition, the creative services department is sometimes involved in the creation of the actual advertisements themselves.

Advertising creative directors must often work extended hours with the creative services department when making deadlines. They must be able to manage the department from conception to completion of a project with good leadership skills. They must sometimes travel to meet with their clients. They should be able to adapt to frequently changing schedules and deadlines. They may also work alongside account executives to make sure their clients’ needs are being met and the firm’s goals are being reached. Overall, advertising creative directors should be able to work well under pressure and maintain their skills of organization and communication despite the long hours, travel, and stress associated with their work.

Training and Education Requirements

An advertising creative director should have a good mixture of formal education and advertising experience. Many employers prefer to hire directors with bachelor’s degrees in advertising or journalism. Courses in consumer behavior, marketing, sales, visual arts, photography, art history, technology and communication may be useful. Good computer skills and the ability to navigate and conduct business through the internet are essential. Speaking a foreign language, particularly Spanish, may be seen as a plus by employers in rapidly growing parts of the country with large Hispanic populations.

Competence in software such as Photoshop, InDesign, PowerPoint, and Flash is usually required to apply for the position. In addition, firms are quickly beginning to require advertising creative directors have experience in HTML, PHP and other tools of web design.

Firms usually require a minimum of five years experience of experience in advertising before hiring an advertising creative director, and trends show that many firms currently require a minimum of seven years experience. In larger cities, firms may ask for ten years experience.

Salary and Wages

In May 2008, the median annual wages for all types of advertising managers, including advertising creative directors, were $80,220. The median hourly wage was $39.60.*

*According to the BLS,

The industry with the highest employment of all types of advertising managers was the industry of advertising and public relations/related services, with a total employment of 8,990. The mean hourly wage for advertising managers in this industry was $59.85/hour, making average yearly wages $124,490.*

*According to the BLS,

Wages of advertising creative directors vary greatly depending on the worker’s level of responsibility, duration of service, and level of education, as well as their firm’s size, location, and industry. In 2008, the top paying industry for advertising managers was the industry of electrical and electronic goods merchant wholesalers. For advertising managers employed in this industry, average hourly wages were $62.73 and average yearly wages $130,480. However, the total employment of advertising managers in this field was only 60. By contrast, the radio and television broadcasting industry, a much larger employer of advertising managers at 1,470 total, had a mean hourly salary of $44.20 and mean yearly salary of $91,930.*

*According to the BLS,


Certification represents both achievement and confidence within a field, and there are a number of certification programs that may be useful for advertising creative directors. Certification programs in digital arts, web design, multimedia design, marketing design, and graphic design are a few possibilities. As the job market for advertising is rather competitive, certification can be particularly helpful to those seeking jobs or promotions. Relatively few advertising creative directors have certifications at present, but the number of those seeking certification is expected to climb.

There are also a number of certification programs for management available, depending on the advertising creative director’s job performance and education. Advancement to the position of advertising creative director, or raises for the current advertising creative directors, may be accelerated by participating in a management certification or training program at the worker’s firm or a local university. Subjects for management conferences, courses, and seminars may include product promotion, brand and product management, and international marketing. Firms often pay some or all of the fees for workers completing courses.

Professional Associations

AIGA, originally the American Institute for Graphic Arts, is now known as the American professional association for design. Its goals are the stimulation of design innovation and empowerment of designers.

IDSA, the Industrial Designers Society of America, is the largest and oldest society for product design, design research, and design management, as well as other design fields, in the world.

NAPP, the national association of Photoshop professionals, helps professionals learn, maintain, and improve their skills in Photoshop’s design software.