Creative directors lead creative projects, campaigns and branding for their company or clients.
They direct the entire creative process from conception to delivery whilst mentoring and motivating a creative team.
Ultimately, they are responsible for the quality of the final work and ensuring that all creative work fits the brief and brand.
This guide includes a full creative director job description and all the key facts about creative directors, including average salaries, job requirements, typical employers and more.
- Creative director job description
- How much do creative directors earn?
- What does a creative director do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs creative directors?
- Which junior jobs progress to creative director roles?
Creative director job description
Creative director | We Create
About We Create
We Create are one of the top 10 creative agencies in the UK. From brand strategy to content creation and digital design, we take businesses and brands to the next level and help them to create cutting edge marketing campaigns.
About the role
We’re looking for a talented and experienced creative director to oversee our creative team, guide the visuals of all client campaigns and projects and project manage the creative workflow. Reports to the agency director.
- Overseeing the creative and artistic vision for our key client accounts
- Developing and implement concepts, guidelines and strategies for creative campaigns and overseeing them to completion
- Ensuring all projects are completed with the client’s budget and timelines
- Leading team brainstorming and creative sessions to generate ideas and direct the team
- Nurturing talent and managing performance and professional development of the creative team
- Ensuring that all completed work is both high-quality and effective and consistent with client brand guidelines and objectives
Location & commitments
- Full-time, permanent role based in our central London office
- 40 hours per week with regular overtime to be expected, in line with project deadlines
- Regular travel to visit clients and attend networking sessions required
- Fast-paced, high-pressured creative working environment
- 7+ years in a creative role in an agency environment, ideally as a senior creative
- An exceptional portfolio of high-quality creative work
- Proven experience of managing and leading a creative team in some capacity
- Multi-skilled in content creation, digital design and branding
- High proficiency with creative design software such as the Adobe Creative Suite
- Experience of juggling numerous clients and deadlines simultaneously
- Degree educated in a creative field — ideally 2:1 or above
- Previous experience as a creative director
Contact us to apply
Fancy joining a cutting-edge creative team? Send your CV, digital portfolio and cover letter to email@example.com at the earlier opportunity and tell us why you’ve got what it takes to take our agency to the next level.
How much do creative directors earn?
Creative director roles are typically senior positions, hence the average UK salary of £41,570.
Creative director salaries in the UK
- Low: £32,500
- Average: £41,570
- High: £52,500
Creative director salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The type of employer – Creative directors can work in-house for a single brand, for a marketing/advertising agency that works for several clients or as a self-employed contractor — which each brings huge variations in salary
- The size of the employer – Generally speaking, the bigger the agency or brand, the higher the salary potential
- Level of experience – As with most roles, newly appointed creative directors typically earn significantly less than very experienced creative directors — for example, a CD with 1 year of experience averages £38,000, which increases to an average of £55,000 with 10 years of experience
- Location – Roles in London generally offer higher salaries
For example, a creative director working for a well-known, global brand is likely to earn more than a creative director working for a small marketing agency. Additionally, a creative director working in central London is likely to earn more than a creative director working outside of the capital.
These figures are taken from job advert samples and therefore do not include extra benefits such as bonuses, commission and non-financial benefits such as healthcare.
What does a creative director do?
While job descriptions vary between roles, creative directors will typically carry out the following tasks, duties and responsibilities:
- Pitching and presenting concepts – Pitching ideas for creative campaigns to clients or management/stakeholders to gain approval
- Setting brand guidelines – Setting brand standards and ensuring all campaign and products are brand-appropriate
- Developing creative ideas – Developing new ideas for branding, marketing campaigns and brand communications
- Managing a creative team – Managing, motivating and directing a team of art directors, designers, copywriters, videographers etc
- Allocating work – Allocating tasks and project work to the best-suited creative team member and supervising the daily workflow
- Managing timelines – Setting and monitoring strict timelines, roadmaps and deadlines and ensuring projects don’t exceed deadlines
- Monitoring budgets – Managing projects costs and expenses and ensuring the client’s or project budget is not exceeded
- Signing off work – Quality-checking and signing off all work for approval and providing constructive feedback to the team
- Liaising with clients – Keeping in contact with clients to update them on project progress and to highlight any problems (for agency workers)
- Leading meetings – Organising and leading meetings and creative brainstorming sessions
What do creative directors need?
A role as a creative director is a senior position with significant responsibility. For this reason, creative directors need a wide range of skills, experience, knowledge and often qualifications in order to gain a job and succeed within the role.
Specific entry requirements will vary between jobs and employers — but generally speaking, here is what is needed:
Creative director jobs will usually require the candidate to have gained significant experience within the creative industry, with experience of managing or leading a team of creatives in some capacity.
Specific time frames will vary, but as the role is so senior, it could be anything from 5–10 years+. Candidates should also have a portfolio of successful creative projects or campaigns and relevant work.
Employers will usually expect this experienced to be within the relevant sector — for example, a games design agency would look for candidates with game design experience specifically.
Creative director skills
In order to succeed in the role, creative directors should possess the following skills and competencies:
- Market knowledge: Knowing the the industry of the employer or client (e.g. retail, hospitality etc.)
- Creative skills: Understanding copywriting, design, typography, branding and marketing techniques and best practices
- Creativity: Coming up innovative and creative ideas and concepts in line with the clients’ vision
- Project management: Delegating and monitoring work, ensuring deadlines are met and increasing efficiency where possible
- Communication: Communicating clearly, confidently and articulately with clients, colleagues, managers and stakeholders face-to-face, as well as via email and phone
- Interpersonal: Forging positive, trusting relationships with team members and clients
- Leadership: Leading, inspiring and motivating a creative team to success
- Presentation: Pitching and presenting ideas to clients, colleagues and directors
- Technical ability: Using a wide range of software and applications involved in the creative process
Creative director qualifications
The majority of marketing and advertising agency staff are graduates. However, experience is still the most important factor during the hiring process.
Additionally, there are numerous qualifications that are recognised throughout the creative industries and can help creatives to refine or update their skillset and become better candidates for creative director roles.
These include, but are not limited to:
Most creative professionals are degree educated and, as such, a relevant undergraduate degree is often (though not always) listed as an essential requirement for creative director jobs. There is a huge range of creative degrees available in universities across the country, in subjects such as:
- Graphic Design
- Fashion design
- Game design
- Creative writing
- Media production
- Fine art
Creative directors are often qualified in a subject relevant to the industry they work in — for example, a creative director of an advertising agency would benefit from a marketing or advertising degree, while a creative director of a video studio would benefit from a degree in video, media production or photography. However, this isn’t a necessity, as many creatives gain experience in numerous disciplines and end up specialising in an area that is unrelated to their degree.
Chartered Institue of Marketing qualifications
An understanding of how to effectively market products is often a fundamental part of the creative director’s role. Whether working in-house or as part of an agency working for numerous clients, the end goal is almost always to raise brand awareness, engage with the target audience and increase sales.
As the marketing industry’s professional body, creative directors can benefit from gaining qualifications from the Chartered Institue of Marketing. The qualifications are globally-recognised and can help to develop a creative director’s strategic approach and a deeper level of marketing expertise.
The key qualifications are:
- Foundation Certificate in Professional Marketing or Digital Marketing: Level 4
- Diploma in Professional Marketing or Digital Marketing: Level 6
- Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Marketing: Level 7
- CIM Marketing Leadership Programme: Level 7
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising qualifications
The IPA is the UK’s advertising professional body and set the standards and protocols for best practice standards. For creative directors with a focus on advertising, the IPA’s qualifications are prized for their direct commercial relevance and make for a great way to diversify skillsets and advertising knowledge.
The key qualifications on offer are:
- IPA Foundation Certificate: 30 hours
- IPA Advanced Certificate: 45 hours
- IPA Excellence Certificate: 150 hours
However, they also offer a range of short courses on subjects such as presentation, branding and leadership.
What is expected of creative directors?
Creative directors are typically expected to commit to the following:
- Full-time hours – Due to the demands of the role, creative director position typically require full-time hours (35 – 40 hours per week) — part-time positions are rare
- Regular overtime – Working long hours outside of the core hours is to be expected, in order to meet deadlines for major campaigns
- Fast-paced work – The role is known to be fast-paced and often stressful, with tight deadlines to meet and multiple projects to juggle
- Location – Normally based at the employer’s head office
- Regular travel & networking – There may be some day-to-day travel involved in order to meet clients, as well as regular networking responsibilities outside of office hours
Creative director benefits
As creative directors are typically senior-level employees, they’ll usually receive a generous benefits package. This may include some or all of the following perks:
- Bonuses – based on campaign performance
- Commission – based on client sales and upselling (normally when working for an agency)
- Generous pension contributions
- Generous holiday allowance
- Private healthcare
- Company car or car allowance
- Company discounts
- Flexible working opportunities
Who employs creative directors?
Creative directors typically work at marketing or advertising agencies or in-house for a single company.
Agencies offer their services to numerous clients, meaning creative directors would work on a large variety of projects, campaigns and briefs. In-house creative directors, in comparison, work for a single brand and are devoted to that company’s vision, ongoing campaigns and creative communications.
Roles are available all over the country but are far more widely available in London and the major cities. Jobs are more common within the private sector but are occasionally available within charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Typical creative director employers include:
- Marketing agencies
- Advertising agencies
- Branding agencies
- Large companies and brands
Which junior jobs progress to creative director roles?
Creatives typically spend 5 to 10+ years in the type of creative media they’re looking to work in before having the breadth of experience required to lead a creative team and become a director.
There is no linear career path, as so many creative jobs and career paths exist. However, creative directors typically get started in a junior creative role to build a portfolio and experience, before moving into a mid-weight or senior creative role, such as:
- Graphic designer
- Marketing executive
- Advertising executive
- Fashion designer
Which senior jobs do creative directors progress to?
Even though a role as a creative director can offer lucrative salaries and enjoyable work, the job also offers varied opportunities for progression within the creative industry.
Promotion is varied and largely depends on the size and structure of the organisation being worked for. However, most creative directors progress into other director-level roles or use their experience to set up their own agency or business. Some common moves include:
Chief marketing officer
A chief marketing officer (CMO) takes the lead in the planning, development and execution of a marketing strategy within a business. A CMO has more involvement in the overall business and marketing strategy than a creative director, who focuses solely on the creative execution of the strategy. Experienced creative directors who work for an in-house marketing department often move into the role of CMO, which typically offers even higher salaries.
Creative director consultant
Creative director consultants/freelancers work for agencies or brands on short-term, temporary contracts or for numerous clients at once. Once creative directors have gained experience and built up a professional reputation and strong network, the opportunity for freelance work is plentiful and offers an average day rate of £525.
Agency or brand owner
The creative and leadership experience paired with the large network of contacts gained, typically puts creative directors in good stead for taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. For this reason, experienced creative directors sometimes end up starting their own marketing/advertising agency or brand.
Creative director job description – conclusion
Landing a role as a creative director is often considered the pinnacle of a creative career.
The job requires years of experience in creative roles and (often) a degree.
While competition for this senior role can be competitive, it does offer higher than average UK salaries and a rewarding work life.