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How Do I Become a Design Director?

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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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To become a design director, you need to be a highly motivated creative person who can come up with ideas and develop them into tangible form. Knowledge of general design, brand equity, and brand development as well as knowledge of the relevant computer software are likely going to be a requirement to become a design director. You will need a bachelor's degree and some years of experience working on a design team under the oversight of a design director. In a marketing or advertising agency, this position may also be known as marketing director, art director, or creative director. A design director will typically manage and direct the work being done by a team or teams of designers.

The educational requirements to become a design director typically include a bachelor's degree in art, design, interior design or some related fine arts field. Some colleges or universities offer industry-specific coursework and degrees in many areas in this field, like advertising design, brand equity, or even architecture. In order to become a design director, you must have gained experience from working as part of a design team in a leadership role, such as team leader or team director. Extensive experience gained over several years in the industry will aid a design director in planning and reaching goals, working with others on a design team, and getting them to deliver top-quality work under extremely tight deadlines.

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Creativity is the primary characteristic necessary to become a design director in any area of work. The ability to create concepts and eventually develop them into tangible products or services is what creativity is all about. In addition to that creativity, you must possess the ability to communicate your creative concepts to a team of designers who will assist you in bringing these rough ideas to life. Communication and collaboration are key skills in working with a team of designers. Self-motivation is another critical skill as you will likely be relied upon to create, design, and produce work under tight deadlines with little or no supervision.

Exceptional communication and people skills are also integral on the path to become a design director. In this position, you will likely be working closely with a design team and with other professionals like architects, other designers, fine artists, or engineers. Since you will likely be responsible for the overall look and feel of the products produced by a company, you will need to know about design strategy, brand development, and brand equity.

In addition to an extensive knowledge of design and design principles, a design director may also need some knowledge of construction, engineering, or any other field specific to a particular industry. For example, a design director working for a company that creates and sells computer games will probably require some knowledge about developing and playing video games along with some experience and knowledge of computers and computer game technology.

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