In California, the key difference between agents and managers is that licensed agents are the only entities allowed legally to find jobs for workers in the entertainment industry. Securing employment is not the only duty actors, authors, musicians, models, film directors, producers, screenwriters, broadcast journalists and athletes expect from their agents. These representatives are also required to negotiate potentially lucrative contracts while safeguarding, supporting and marketing their clients’ interests. Many agents are increasingly taking their job functions to greater heights by assuming active roles in project development, to help keep themselves and the artists they represent more employable.
Although working as a talent agent requires long hours and due diligence, there is a payoff – especially if the representative is licensed in the Golden State. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more agents are pounding the pavement on a sustainable basis in California than any other district in the nation.
Recent BLS data shows that more than 4,000 agents and business managers are gainfully employed in the most populous U.S. state, compared with 2,270 in New York and less than 1,000 in Florida, Tennessee and Illinois. The majority of these busy handlers are holding down the fort in the metropolitan division of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale, where nearly 3,600 are bringing home hefty paychecks.
In metro LA, entertainment agents and managers earn an average annual salary of about $132,000, or roughly $63 per hour, reports the BLS.
Becoming a successful talent agent or business manager entails specializing in a specific range of talent and knowing the intricate corporate side of the competitive entertainment industry. Most of these consummate professionals have secured a four-year degree in public relations, marketing or business management.
Experts say the best way to break into the field is to either participate in an internship program or sign up for hands-on training sessions at an established company. United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, for instance, hires qualified applicants for its ongoing agent-training program. After completion, ambitious students become legitimate brokers.
In the entertainment capital of the world, industrious talent agents earn their keep.
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.