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How to Become a Producer or Director

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in a related occupation, such as an actor or writer.


Producers and directors usually earn a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal training programs for producers or film directors, but some major in writing, acting, journalism, or communication while in college. 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 receive a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, and set design, as well as some acting classes. The National Association of Schools of Theater accredits more than 150 programs in theater arts.

Work Experience

Producers and directors usually have several years of work experience in a related occupation. Many directors begin as actors, writers, film editors, or choreographers, and over the years they learn about directing. Many begin as assistants to successful directors on a film set. For more information, see the profiles on actors, writers and authors, film and video editors and camera operators, or dancers and choreographers.

In nonprofit theaters, most aspiring directors begin as assistant directors, a position that is usually treated as an unpaid internship.

Producers might start out working in a theatrical management office, as a business manager, or as an assistant or another low-profile job in a TV or movie studio. Some were directors or worked in another role behind the scenes of a show or movie.


As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger and more expensive projects.

Important Qualities

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 physically represent the script’s ideas.

Leadership skills. A director instructs actors and helps them portray their characters in a believable manner.

Management skills. Producers must find and hire the best director and crew for the production and make sure that all involved do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition