Whether it's a theater, film or TV production, the people at the helm of the ship are the producers and directors. In some productions, the executive producer is the top dog, while the associate producers are second-in-command. To make it to the position of associate producer, people generally have a few common qualifications.
While it's not always required, a lot of producers attend college. They may major in film studies, writing, communication, journalism or theater at the undergraduate level. Some producers gain more education -- and prestige -- by going on to a master's degree in film, screenwriting or media production.
In most film, TV and theater productions, associate producers get their jobs by working their way "up the ranks." They may start out as entry-level production assistants or producer's assistants, and by showing determination and hard work, they'll move on to more advanced jobs. Associate producers can also get experience by working in smaller productions in which they have total control, such as community theater productions, cable TV programs or independent films.
Producers at all levels must be creative. Depending on the type of production, associate producers may have a say in the choice of props, sets, lighting and other visual elements. Since associate producers are often the ones on the set during rehearsals and production, they need to be able to point out visual issues or places where a scene could be enhanced.
While the executive producer is typically the "boss" of the production, associate producers are also in management roles. As such, they need business acumen. They should be able to manage the cast and crew and make financial decisions, and they must be able to troubleshoot issues and make on-the-spot decisions as needed.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.