TV or film assistant director

Performing arts and media

Career outlook for TV or film assistant director

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would organise and plan everything on set, leaving the director free to deal with the creative side.

You would be known in the industry as an 'AD'. Most productions use a team of assistant directors, with a 1st AD, at least one 2nd AD and possibly one or more 3rd ADs, each with different tasks.

1st ADs have the greatest responsibility. In this job you would do much of the planning before production begins, and you would manage the set during filming. As a 1st AD, you would:

  • Work with the director to decide the order of shooting
  • Plan a filming schedule, taking into account the director’s ideas and the budget
  • Oversee the hire of locations, props and equipment
  • Help recruit the cast and crew
  • Make sure that filming stays on schedule
  • Supervise a team of 2nd and 3rd ADs and runners
  • Try to keep the cast and crew motivated
  • Be responsible for health and safety on set

2nd ADs support the 1st AD and make sure that their orders are carried out. As a 2nd AD, you would:

  • Produce and give out call sheets (lists of timings for the following day's shoot)
  • Be the link between the set and the production office
  • Deal with paperwork
  • Organise transport and hotels
  • Make sure that cast members are in make-up, wardrobe or on set at the right time
  • Find and supervise extras on productions where there is no 3rd AD

3rd ADs assist 2nd ADs, 1st ADs and location managers on set. As a 3rd AD, you would:

  • Make sure extras are on set at the right time and place
  • Brief the extras and give them cues
  • Direct the action in background crowd scenes
  • Act as a messenger on set

Working conditions


Your working hours could be long and irregular, according to the demands of each production. They may often include evenings and weekends.


You could work in TV/film studios or outdoors, depending on the production.


Work may be anywhere in the UK or overseas, so working conditions will vary depending on where the production is being filmed.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Reliable
  • Developing a plan
  • Working with technology
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating
  • Resourceful
  • Creative
  • Problem solving

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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There are no set qualifications required to enter this role.

The key to becoming an assistant director is to get practical experience of the production process, and also to develop a network of contacts in the industry.

Employers are usually more interested in your experience, enthusiasm and initiative than your formal qualifications.

Although it's not essential, it can be helpful to study film, video or media production before you look for work, especially courses that include practical skills and work placements.

You can enter some Technical Theatre National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a relevant degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires a minimum of four highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Media studies
  • Social studies

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of the industry, creative, management and production skills such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ level 4) or relevant college or university qualifications such as a Higher National Diploma in Creative Industries: Television (SCFQ level 8).

There are also a number of industry bodies that can offer relevant training and qualifications such as the British Film Institute.