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

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 portray their characters more accurately. 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 that 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 that 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.

Large productions often have various 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 teams.

Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with smaller production 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.

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 134,700 jobs. The largest employers of producers and directors are as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 30%
Radio and television broadcasting 20
Self-employed workers 16
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 8
Advertising, public relations, and related services 6

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.

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 and where all or part of the filming occurs).

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.

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 experience as an actor, a film and video editor, or a cinematographer.

Education for Producers and Directors

Producers and directors usually have a bachelor's degree. Many students study film or cinema in programs at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. As of 2017, the National Association of Schools of Theatre provided accreditation to more than 180 postsecondary institutions for their programs in theater arts.

Others producers and directors have degrees in writing, acting, journalism, or communications. 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 earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Producers and Directors

Producers and directors might start out working in theatrical management offices as business or company managers. In television or film, they might start out as assistants or in other low-profile studio jobs. For more information, see the profiles on film and video editors and camera operators.

Advancement for Producers and Directors

As a producer's or director's reputation grows, he or she may work on larger, more expensive 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. Directors instruct actors and help them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, which is responsible for 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 $70,950. 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 $32,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $189,870.

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 $93,450
Motion picture and video industries 83,760
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 60,820
Radio and television broadcasting 58,260

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 their schedules may change with each assignment or project.

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

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 12 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 movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

Consumer demand for reality shows on television is likely to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs. In addition, the volume of TV shows is expected to grow as the number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, increases along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth should lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors.

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 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.

Job Prospects for Producers and Directors

Producers and directors face intense competition for jobs because there are 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, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Producers and directors 134,700 150,800 12 16,100


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

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