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Career and Education Opportunities for Art Directors in Birmingham, Alabama

Art directors can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Currently, 530 people work as art directors in Alabama. This is expected to grow by 10% to 580 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for art directors are expected to grow by about 11.7%. In general, art directors formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.

Income for art directors is about $25 per hour or $52,280 per year on average in Alabama. Nationally, their income is about $37 hourly or $76,980 per year. Art directors earn more than people working in the category of Art and Design generally in Alabama and more than people in the Art and Design category nationally. Art directors work in a variety of jobs, including: arts administrator, product designer, and art supervisor.

There are fifteen schools of higher education in the Birmingham area, including two within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can get a degree to start your career as an art director. The most common level of education for art directors is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree. It will take about two years to learn to be an art director if you already have a high school diploma.


In general, art directors formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.

Art directors formulate basic layout designs and presentation approaches and specify material details, such as style and size of type. They also talk with creative or production department heads to consider client requirements and presentation concepts and to direct creative efforts. Equally important, art directors have to develop custom illustrations or other graphic elements. They are often called upon to inspect and approve art materials and proofs of printed copy developed by staff members. They are expected to inspect illustrative material to establish if it conforms to standards and specifications. Finally, art directors talk with clients to establish objectives and presentation approaches, styles, and techniques.

Every day, art directors are expected to be able to be creative and generate new ideas. They need to see details at a very fine level of focus.

It is important for art directors to mark up and complete layouts and write typography instructions to ready materials for typesetting or printing. They are often called upon to hire and direct staff members who develop layout concepts into art layouts or who ready layouts for printing. They also oversee own accounts and projects, working within budget and scheduling requirements. They are sometimes expected to attend photo shoots and printing sessions to insure that the products needed are obtained. Somewhat less frequently, art directors are also expected to ready detailed storyboards showing sequence and timing of story development for television production.

Art directors sometimes are asked to negotiate with printers and estimators to establish what services will be performed. and coordinate with creative directors to optimize layout solutions. And finally, they sometimes have to attend photo shoots and printing sessions to insure that the products needed are obtained.

Like many other jobs, art directors must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • Craftsman. Create or reproduce hand-made objects for sale and exhibition using a variety of techniques, such as welding, weaving, and needlecraft.
  • Director. Interpret script, conduct rehearsals, and direct activities of cast and technical crew for stage, motion pictures, or radio programs.
  • Display Specialist. Plan and erect commercial displays.
  • Fashion Designer. Design clothing and accessories. Create original garments or design garments that follow well established fashion trends. May develop the line of color and kinds of materials.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Graphic Designer. Design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. May use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.
  • Industrial Designer. Develop and design manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and children's toys. Combine artistic talent with research on product use, marketing, and materials to create the most functional and appealing product design.
  • Interior Designer. Plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. Formulate design which is practical, aesthetic, and conducive to intended purposes, such as raising productivity, selling merchandise, or improving life style. May specialize in a particular field, style, or phase of interior design.
  • Multi-Media Artist or Animator. Create special effects, animation, or other visual images using film, video, or other electronic tools and media for use in products or creations, such as computer games, movies, and commercials.
  • Music Composer. Write and transcribe musical scores.
  • Music Director. Direct and conduct instrumental or vocal performances by musical groups.
  • Public Relations Specialist. Engage in promoting or creating good will for individuals, groups, or organizations by writing or selecting favorable publicity material and releasing it through various communications media. May prepare and arrange displays, and make speeches.
  • Set and Exhibit Designer. Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.


Samford University - Birmingham, AL

Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229-2240. Samford University is a small university located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,469 students and an admission rate of 89%. Samford University has a bachelor's degree program in Graphic Design which graduated seven students in 2008.

Virginia College-Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Virginia College-Birmingham, 65 Bagby Dr., Birmingham, AL 35209-3703. Virginia College-Birmingham is a medium sized college located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 6,090 students and an admission rate of 64%. Virginia College-Birmingham has an associate's degree program in Graphic Design which graduated thirty-eight students in 2008.


Certified Graphic Communication Manager: The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's (IPMA) Certified Graphic Communications Manager (CGCM) designation was created in 1976 to establish a professional standard of proficiency for the in-house graphic arts and printing management profession.

For more information, see the International Publishing Management Association website.


Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.