Advertising Creative Director Salary

An advertising creative director manages the advertising department of a company. The director is responsible for overseeing the advertising campaign of a group or a firm. Often, large firms will divide their advertising departments into several smaller departments, including accounts, media services, and creative departments. The advertising creative director is in charge of the creative services department.

Members of a creative services department include designers, a copy chief, and an art director. The advertising creative director supervises all of these workers. The department as a whole works together to develop and present advertising campaigns. They must design headlines, write copy, draw storyboards, and accomplish all aspects of designing advertisements for the company.

Salary Overview

As of May 2008, the median yearly salary for advertising creative directors was $80,220. The median hourly pay was $39.60. Advertising creative directors employed in the area of public relations/related services had an average salary of $124,490 and average hourly wage of $59.85. In May 2008, this was the area of the advertising industry that had the highest level of employment of advertising creative directors.*

Wages of advertising creative directors differ greatly according to the director’s amount of responsibility, number of years worked, and level of education completed, as well as the size of their firm, its location, and its industry. In 2008, the highest paying industry for advertising creative directors was electrical and electronic goods merchant wholesalers. Average hourly pay was $62.73, and average yearly salary was $130,480. However, the total number of directors employed in that field was only 60. The television and radio broadcasting industry employed a much larger sector, with 1,470. The median hourly wage in this industry was $44.20, and the median yearly pay was $91,930.*

*According to the BLS,

Training and Education Requirements

A candidate for the position of advertising creative director must have both college education and experience in the field of advertising. Employers tend to prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in either journalism or advertising. Also useful is the successful completion of courses in marketing, sales, consumer behavior, visual arts, art history, photography, communication, and technology.

A director must be proficient in the use of computers, particularly in doing business over the internet. An added bonus is fluency in another language, especially Spanish, because of the growing Hispanic population in the United States. Experience using InDesign, Photoshop, PowerPoint, and Flash is usually a requirement. Some firms are also starting to require experience in PHP, HTML, and other web design tools.

Often a firm will require an advertising creative director to have a minimum of five years of experience in advertising. Some firms even require seven years experience. In large cities, ten years is sometimes the minimum.

Job Description and Outlook

In order to meet deadlines, advertising creative directors must often work overtime with the department of creative services. They must demonstrate good leadership skills and direct the department from the beginning to the end of a project. At times, they will be required to travel to meet with their clients. Directors must endure fluctuating deadlines and schedules. They must cooperate with account executives to ensure that the creative department is meeting the needs of the clients, as well as the goals of the firm. Advertising creative directors must also thrive under pressure. Stress, long hours, and travel must not affect their communication skills.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts average growth of advertising creative director jobs. Approximately 68,000 jobs are estimated to become available through the year 2016. However, competition will be tight, as these positions are very desirable. The most likely candidates for the positions will have college degrees, advertising experience, good communication skills, computer skills, and creativity.*

*According to the BLS,


Representing both confidence and achievement in a specialized field, certification programs are available to advertising creative directors and include web design, digital arts, marketing design, multimedia design, and graphic design. Because the advertising job market is highly competitive, certification can increase one’s chances of getting a job or a promotion. Presently, few advertising creative directors have certifications, but that amount is expected to increase.

Quite a few management certification programs are available, depending on the director’s education and job performance. Promotion to the position of advertising creative director, or raises within the position, may be accomplished through management certification or a training program at the employee’s firm or at a nearby university. Firms often pay all or part of the course fees for their workers. Subjects for the courses may include brand and product management, product promotion, and international marketing.

Professional Associations

AIGA, once called the American Institute for Graphic Arts, is now called the American Professional Association for Design. The goals of AIGA are the empowerment of designers and the stimulation of design innovation.

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

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals, NAPP, aids professionals in improving, learning, and maintaining their Photoshop skills.

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