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What Does A Design Director Do?

A design director spearheads and oversees design projects in a company or organization. They typically have the authority to lead the creative and design teams, make significant decisions, delegate responsibilities, set goals and schedules, manage budgets and resources, and direct the project's cycle from planning to execution. They also coordinate with clients and solve issues when any arise. Additionally, a design director leads and encourages teams to reach goals, all while implementing standards and policies, developing new ones when necessary.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real design director resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Delegate and manage technical and cad team; fittings; and associate designers.
  • Assemble and manage UX/UI team and solutions for dozens of web base applications.
  • Manage and grow brand s social media outlets; Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
  • Design, create and manage promotions and Facebook ad campaigns early user of social media.
  • Hire and manage a team of visual designers and CSS developers who support 50+ SAS shipping products and common UI frameworks.
  • Manage and design advertising programs, photography and merchandising for sales collateral and catalogs.
  • Direct creative projects in support of ongoing B2C marketing campaigns for largest writer of juvenile insurance.
  • Work with programming languages; HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as well as leading content management tool sets.
  • Produce original artwork used in client proposals, presentations, brochures and other marketing collateral.
  • Create visual identity and full business systems design to position clients externally and ensure communications are align with brand strategy.
Design Director Traits
Math skills include being able to perform basic addition and subtraction, as well as solving for the unknown and visualizing data that will be helpful in the workplace.
Computer skills involves understanding how to operate a computer, as well as computer programs and applications.
Artistic ability involves being able to design ideas in a way that makes them come to life.

Design Director Overview

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as a design director is "should I become a design director?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, design director careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "slower than average" at 3% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a design director by 2028 is 8,800.

Design directors average about $55.71 an hour, which makes the design director annual salary $115,873. Additionally, design directors are known to earn anywhere from $62,000 to $214,000 a year. This means that the top-earning design directors make $152,000 more than the lowest earning ones.

Once you've become a design director, you may be curious about what other opportunities are out there. Careers aren't one size fits all. For that reason, we discovered some other jobs that you may find appealing. Some jobs you might find interesting include a graphic artist, production artist, freelancer, and senior graphic designer.

Design Director Jobs You Might Like

Design Director Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 9% of Design Directors are proficient in User Interface, Product Design, and Architecture. They’re also known for soft skills such as Math skills, Computer skills, and Artistic ability.

We break down the percentage of Design Directors that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • User Interface, 9%

    Assisted in companies defining and implementing user interface process into their product development cycle.

  • Product Design, 8%

    Supervised and developed high-functioning assessment management teams specializing in product design, development, intellectual property management, and vendor management.

  • Architecture, 6%

    Established architecture process allowing architecture evolution through contributions

  • Graphic Design, 5%

    Supervised 5 graphic designers in creation of award-winning printed collateral for university departments and corporate affiliates.

  • Market Research, 5%

    Project organization and direction of design, market research distillation, creative strategy development and budget management.

  • Project Management, 4%

    Provided project management for domestic and international clients for both remodel and new build front of house furniture/interior installations.

Some of the skills we found on design director resumes included "user interface," "product design," and "architecture." We have detailed the most important design director responsibilities below.

  • While it may not be the most important skill, we found that many design director duties rely on computer skills. This example from a design director explains why: "most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs." This resume example is just one of many ways design directors are able to utilize computer skills: "developed computer graphics and page-layout software, graphic elements and photography. "
  • Another skill that is quite popular among design directors is artistic ability. This skill is very critical to fulfilling every day responsibilities as is shown in this example from a design director resume: "graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers" This example from a resume shows how this skill is used: "researched trends to developed a design direction for each season-including color palettes, artistic direction and new hosiery styles. "
  • In order for certain design director responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "analytical skills." According to a design director resume, "graphic designers must be able to perceive their work from their consumers’ point of view to ensure that the designs convey the client’s message." As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "directed all technical operations including design, product development, engineering, cost analysis and marketing. "
  • Yet another important skill that a design director must demonstrate is "time-management skills." Graphic designers often work simultaneously on multiple projects, each with a different deadline. This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a design director who stated: "collaborated with product development, purchasing, and manufacturing departments to meet project expectations and deadlines. "
  • See the full list of design director skills.

    We've found that 67.5% of design directors have earned a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, 9.8% earned their master's degrees before becoming a design director. While it's true that most design directors have a college degree, it's generally possible to become one with only a high school degree. In fact, one out of every eight design directors did not spend the extra money to attend college.

    Those design directors who do attend college, typically earn either graphic design degrees or fine arts degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for design directors include architecture degrees or business degrees.

    Once you're ready to become a design director, you should explore the companies that typically hire design directors. According to design director resumes that we searched through, design directors are hired the most by Facebook, Accenture, and New Relic. Currently, Facebook has 46 design director job openings, while there are 19 at Accenture and 19 at New Relic.

    If you're interested in companies where design directors make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Facebook, Apple, and Expedia Group. We found that at Facebook, the average design director salary is $240,430. Whereas at Apple, design directors earn roughly $234,297. And at Expedia Group, they make an average salary of $233,747.

    View more details on design director salaries across the United States.

    For the most part, design directors make their living in the retail and technology industries. Design directors tend to make the most in the media industry with an average salary of $177,941. The design director annual salary in the retail and manufacturing industries generally make $172,542 and $159,729 respectively. Additionally, design directors who work in the media industry make 45.9% more than design directors in the professional Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious design directors are:

      What Graphic Artists Do

      A graphic artist is either an illustrator or an animator who creates art work that will be used in graphic projects such as advertisements, posters, or even book covers. Although a graphic artist has his own style of artwork, he may be often commissioned to create art specifically for a particular project. A graphic artist may work with a graphic designer in order to convey the overall message of a project. The portfolio of a graphic artist includes cartoons, illustrations, and graphic novels.

      In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take graphic artist for example. On average, the graphic artists annual salary is $86,651 lower than what design directors make on average every year.

      While their salaries may differ, one common ground between design directors and graphic artists are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like user interface, graphic design, and design concepts.

      These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. A design director responsibility is more likely to require skills like "product design," "architecture," "market research," and "project management." Whereas a graphic artist requires skills like "adobe creative suite," "photoshop," "company website," and "brochures." Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

      Graphic artists receive the highest salaries in the technology industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $76,068. But design directors are paid more in the media industry with an average salary of $177,941.

      The education levels that graphic artists earn is a bit different than that of design directors. In particular, graphic artists are 12.0% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a design director. Additionally, they're 1.8% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Production Artist?

      A production artist is responsible for managing digital content, meeting clients' standard specifications and requests for successful project completion. Production artists must have computer proficiency, especially on utilizing various software tools and applications to create illustrations and layouts. They also work closely with the creative team, cooperating in brainstorming sessions to ensure the consistency for each assigned task. A production artist should be keen on details, adjusting outputs as needed to maintain the highest quality for the actual presentation.

      Next up, we have the production artist profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a design director annual salary. In fact, production artists salary difference is $81,636 lower than the salary of design directors per year.

      Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Design directors and production artists both include similar skills like "user interface," "graphic design," and "design projects" on their resumes.

      While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that design director responsibilities requires skills like "product design," "architecture," "market research," and "project management." But a production artist might use skills, such as, "adobe creative suite," "layout," "photoshop," and "indesign."

      It's been discovered that production artists earn lower salaries compared to design directors, but we wanted to find out where production artists earned the most pay. The answer? The telecommunication industry. The average salary in the industry is $71,191. Additionally, design directors earn the highest paychecks in the media with an average salary of $177,941.

      In general, production artists study at lower levels of education than design directors. They're 11.8% less likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 1.8% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Freelancer Compares

      A freelancer is a self-employed individual that provides services for multiple clients at one time and usually earns money on a per-job basis. Often known as independent contractors, freelancers usually set their schedules while running their own business and have a flexible lifestyle. They have the liberty to choose their clients that may be less confined to specific markets or sectors. Freelancers usually find work within the creative industries such as graphic design, copywriting, or photography.

      The third profession we take a look at is freelancer. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower salaries than design directors. In fact, they make a $85,085 lower salary per year.

      Using design directors and freelancers resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "user interface," "graphic design," and "powerpoint," but the other skills required are very different.

      Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from design director resumes include skills like "product design," "architecture," "market research," and "project management," whereas a freelancer might be skilled in "customer service," "special events," "online," and "video production. "

      Freelancers typically study at similar levels compared with design directors. For example, they're 1.1% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 1.1% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Senior Graphic Designer

      A senior graphic designer oversees all of the designing operations in a company, from conceptualization to production. One of their primary responsibilities is to ensure that all designs produced are according to a client's preference and brand. They also encourage fresh ideas from the team, communicate with clients or representatives, and manage the schedules to meet all deadlines. Furthermore, as a senior graphic designer, they are responsible for leading and mentoring a team of graphic designers, all in the joint effort to reach project goals.

      The fourth career we look at typically earns lower pay than design directors. On average, senior graphic designers earn a difference of $66,130 lower per year.

      According to resumes from both design directors and senior graphic designers, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "user interface," "graphic design," and "project management. "

      Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, a design director might have more use for skills like "product design," "architecture," "market research," and "design projects." Meanwhile, some senior graphic designers might include skills like "adobe creative suite," "layout," "company website," and "brochures" on their resume.

      Senior graphic designers earn a higher salary in the retail industry with an average of $80,126. Whereas, design directors earn the highest salary in the media industry.

      In general, senior graphic designers reach lower levels of education when compared to design directors resumes. Senior graphic designers are 10.0% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 1.9% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.