Producers and Directors

Career, Salary and Education Information

What Producers and Directors Do[About this section] [To Top]

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties of Producers and Directors

Producers and directors typically do the following:

  • Select scripts or topics for a film, show, commercial, or play
  • Audition and select cast members and the film or stage crew
  • Approve the design and financial aspects of a production
  • Oversee the production process, including performances, lighting, and choreography
  • Oversee the postproduction process, including editing, special effects, music selection, and a performance’s overall tone
  • Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
  • Promote finished works or productions through interviews, advertisements, and film festivals

Large productions often have associate, assistant, and line producers who share responsibilities. For example, on a large movie set an executive producer is in charge of the entire production, and a line producer runs the day-to-day operations. A TV show may employ several assistant producers to whom the head or executive producer gives certain duties, such as supervising the costume and makeup team.

Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with tasks such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. The specific responsibilities of assistant producers or directors vary with the size and type of production they work on.

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, commercial, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, film and video editors, a musical director, a choreographer, and other workers. Some producers may assist in the selection of cast members. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and they are ultimately responsible for the final product.

Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production. They select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. During rehearsals, they work with the actors to help them more accurately portray their characters. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They investigate the topic and may interview relevant participants or experts on camera. Directors also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure the final product matches the overall vision.

Directors work with set designers, costume designers, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product comes out the way the producer and director envisioned. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors who document their product with cameras, make sure the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance. For more information, see the profiles on actors, writers and authors, film and video editors and camera operators, dancers and choreographers, and multimedia artists and animators.

Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to producers. Some directors also share producing duties for their own films.

Work Environment for Producers and Directors[About this section] [To Top]

Producers and directors hold about 122,600 jobs. The industries that employ the most producers and directors are as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 26%
Radio and television broadcasting 20
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 8
Advertising, public relations, and related services 6
Cable and other subscription programming 3

About 1 of 5 producers and directors are self-employed.

Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under constant stress to finish their work on time. Work assignments may be short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.

Producer and Director Work Schedules

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 work more than 40 hours per week. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek because their schedules may change with each assignment or project. Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio where all or part of the filming occurs).

How to Become a Producer or Director[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Producers and Directors near you!

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as an actor, film and video editor, or cinematographer.

Producer and Director Education

Producers and directors usually have a bachelor’s degree. Many students study film or cinema at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. Others major in writing, acting, journalism, or communication. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.

Many stage directors complete a degree in theater and some go on to receive a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting. The National Association of Schools of Theatre has accredited more than 180 programs in theater arts.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Producers and directors might start out working in a theatrical management office as a business or company manager. In television or film, they might start out as an assistant or another low-profile studio job.

Advancement for Producers and Directors

As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on larger projects that attract more attention or publicity.

Important Qualities for Producers and Directors

Communication skills. Producers and directors must coordinate the work of many different people to finish a production on time and within budget.

Creativity. Because a script can be interpreted in different ways, directors must decide how they want to interpret it and then how to represent the script’s ideas on the screen or stage.

Leadership skills. A director instructs actors and helps them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, who are responsible for the behind the scenes work.

Time-management skills. Producers must find and hire the best director and crew for the production. They make sure that all involved do their jobs effectively, keeping within a production schedule and a budget.

Producer and Director Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for producers and directors is $68,440. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,780, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $181,780.

The median annual wages for producers and directors in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services $93,700
Motion picture and video industries 77,980
Cable and other subscription programming 72,020
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 58,640
Radio and television broadcasting 56,260

Some producers and directors earn a percentage of ticket sales. A few of the most successful producers and directors have extraordinarily high earnings, but most do not.

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 work more than 40 hours per week. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek because they have variable schedules. Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio where all or part of the filming occurs).

Job Outlook for Producers and Directors[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films. Also, consumer demand for reality shows on television is expected to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs.

In addition, production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as watching TV on mobile devices and online, which may lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors in the future. These delivery methods are still in their early stages, however, and their potential for success is not entirely known.

Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as the fewer tickets are sold. Large theaters in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Producers and Directors Job Prospects

Producers and directors face intense competition for jobs because there are many more people who want to work in this field than there are jobs available. In film, directors who have experience on film sets should have the best job prospects. Producers who have good business skills will likely have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for Producers and Directors, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Producers and directors 122,600 133,800 9 11,100


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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