Video Director Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and con of a video director career? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming a video director is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Video Director

Becoming a video director can be an artistically rewarding experience that gives you the chance to express your creative visions and bring them to life through television shows or movies. Read on more to find out the ups and downs of being a video director.

Pros of Being a Video Director
Room for specialization (movies, television shows, commercials, documentaries, etc.)*
Potentially high paying (annual income of $90,300 on average as of May 2014)*
Opportunity for self-employment (15% of directors and producers were self-employed in 2012)*
Involvement in ground breaking media (online movies, interactive media, videogames)*

Cons of Being a Video Director
Unusual and long hours (nights, weekends, working for months at a time without a break)*
Constant stress to find new jobs and keep employers happy*
Difficult career to break into: keen job competition*
Occupational opportunities are predominately located in New York City and Los Angeles*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Description and Salary Information

After a video director has been placed in charge of a project, the production can begin. A video director reviews scripts and speaks with the writers to determine if any necessary changes have to be made. Additionally, auditions are held by the video director to determine which actors are best suited to the roles the project calls for. The creative decisions that go into making a commercial, television show or movie is put into the hands of the video director with some input by the producers.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014 found that the hourly income for producers and directors was about $43, which amounted to average yearly earnings of around $90,000 ( The wage estimates for the top-earning 25% in this field were over $52 an hour and $109,640 a year. The top-paying locations for directors as of May 2014 were California, New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Illinois. The top-paying industries were the communications equipment manufacturers; independent artists; advertising, public relations and related services; specialized design services; and accounting and tax preparation services.

Educational, Training and Personal Job Requirements

There aren't any strict educational requirements to become a video director, although the BLS notes that most directors hold at least a bachelor's degree. Typically, the more you know about the entertainment industry, the better prepared you'll be for this career. For example, if you pursue a postsecondary education in film studies, you'll have the chance to understand the nature and level of involvement that is required to successfully produce a film, television show or commercial. While you're in school, an internship opportunity on a film project can give you some firsthand experience in the industry. Studying drama, theater and communication are possible alternatives to film studies.

What Employers Are Seeking in Video Directors

It can be difficult to find job advertisements for video directors, since many employers develop a roster of preferred directors for projects. Many employers want video directors who are passionate about their work and can demonstrate their success record. Video directors who have a successful record of getting jobs done on schedule are more likely to see more job offerings in the future. Take a look at some job postings that were posted in February-May 2012:

  • A business in North Carolina needed a video director with a track record of successful project completions. The position required a minimum of a bachelor's degree in filmmaking, advertising or business communications.
  • A television station in Rhode Island advertised for a video journalist who could write, shoot, edit and produce news-related videos. The position required strong organizational skills and a driver's license; a minimum educational requirement was not specified.
  • A church in Alabama was looking for a videographer to work on a variety of video projects from start to finish. The position required at least three years of relevant experience and familiarity with Final Cut Pro software. Applicants were required to provide a demonstration reel.

How to Stand Out

Although it can be difficult to stand out when you're just starting out as a video director, you can do a few things to separate yourself from everyone else. If you're new to the field, you can start out in an assistant director position for a nonprofit theater. These roles are generally considered to be unpaid internships, but they provide you with the chance to develop your skills. Taking the time to earn additional work experience in a related career can help as well. Many directors got their starts by working as editors, writers or actors. Finally, you may get the opportunity to do more expensive and bigger projects as your reputation grows as a video director.

Other Career Choices

If you want to be involved in the entertainment industry, but you'd rather be in front of the camera, then you could consider becoming an actor. As with video directors, it can be difficult to land an acting job, but acting jobs can be high-paying if you receive recognition and acclaim. Many acting jobs require actors who fit a certain role or look a certain way, so it is important to keep that in mind. The BLS found that acting jobs were too sporadic to appropriately calculate an average annual income, but the average hourly salary was reported to be about $33 as of May 2011.

If you like the idea of working with video formatting, but you want to be more involved in the editing and filming process, you can look into a career as a film and video editor. If you're working directly with the camera, you'll capture the images necessary to put together the movie, television show or commercial. Once all the footage has been shot, you'll piece it together to form the creative vision required of the project while placing sound effects and other touches up into the editing. The average salary yearly for film and video editors was around $62,000, according to the BLS in May 2011.

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