Becoming a Talent Manager: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a talent manager career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a talent manager is right for you.
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Becoming a Talent Manager: Pros and Cons

Working with actors and musicians may seem like a dream come true, but there are both upsides and downsides to becoming a talent manager. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of the job to determine whether or not this career is right for you.

Pros of a Talent Manager Career
Unlimited salary potential, earnings are based on commission*
Ability to meet and influence up-and-coming talent*
Perks of the job may include free movie passes and access to exclusive events*
Opportunity to network in glamorous industry*

Cons of a Talent Manager Career
It may take time to work up to this position*
Working long and unusual hours is often necessary*
Resolving conflicts is a necessary skill for the job**
Work can be tiresome and many talent agents leave the industry while young*

Sources: *UC Berkley, **O*NET Online

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Talent managers handle the business and administrative tasks of actors, musicians and athletes. They may schedule interviews, handle public relations tasks and help to increase the popularity of their clients. Talent managers also handle behind-the-scenes activities, such as arranging travel, overseeing finances and handling other administrative or professional duties for their clientele.

Some managers may share duties with a talent agent; agents are generally responsible for booking auditions and jobs for their clients. However, because of their contacts in the industry and knowledge of their clients' abilities, managers may book jobs for the talent they represent as well. Another major difference between agents and managers is that agents are responsible for negotiating contracts. A manager is generally retained only after an athlete, actor or musician has experienced some success and needs assistance managing publicity, schedules and endorsements.

Job Growth and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2014 the average yearly salary for agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes was about $97,000. The growth rate for this job is predicted to be 10% from 2012-2022; this outlook is the same as the national average.

What Are the Requirements?

Most talent managers need a bachelor's degree and some experience in the industry. Majors where students learn effective communication, financial and business skills can help prepare them for the job. Business, public relations, communications and management are possible educational paths.

Managers often start as assistants or in low-level positions and work up to management. You may begin working in the mailroom and progress up the ladder. Low-level jobs may not be high paying, but are often necessary due to the contacts and networking they provide.

To be a successful talent manager, you'll need negotiation skills, the ability to communicate with many groups and outstanding organization skills. You should be cool under pressure in order to manage crises for your clients, financially savvy and socially perceptive. Talent agents must also be licensed through their state, though requirements for licensing can vary.

What Employers Are Looking for

Employers often seek the same characteristics in talent managers and agents. Both must be highly motivated and detail oriented. Agent trainees and assistants learn the job skills necessary to progress in their field. Take a look at the excerpts below, from online job ads from March and April 2012, to see what actual employers were looking for.

  • In Los Angeles, an experienced theatrical talent manager is needed. Applicants must have connections in the industry and be able to work in a team environment.
  • In California, an agency is seeking an ambitious trainee to begin working in the talent industry. Candidate must have professional communication skills and researching abilities.
  • Another California agency is seeking assistants to work with literary clients. Applicants must be deadline oriented, willing to perform administrative tasks and technologically savvy.

How Can I Stand Out?

Actors, musicians and athletes depend on their managers to cultivate their image and find appropriate work. Managers depend on their contacts within the industry to serve their clients. Because networking is important in this career, you can benefit from having experience in the industry. Taking a low-level job allows you to meet others in your field and up-and-coming stars that could serve as future clients. Attending film screenings and industry events can serve the same purpose.

Other Careers to Consider

Human Resource Manager

If you like the duties and daily tasks of a talent manager, but are looking for a more 9-5 job, consider working as a human resource manager. These individuals work in organizations of all sizes, bridging management and employees. They coordinate administrative functions, hire new employees and train staff. To enter this career, you'll need a bachelor's degree in human resources or business management. The BLS estimates that demand for this job will grow at a slightly slower rate than that of a talent manager from 2010-2020; however, the average yearly income for human resource managers was about $109,000 as of May 2011.

Public Relations Specialist

Another job with similar duties, but a faster than average projected job growth rate (23% from 2010-2020) is a public relations specialist. In this career, you'll increase the visibility of your clients by writing press releases, coordinating events and setting up media plans. To enter this field, you'll most likely need a bachelor's degree in communications or public relations. This career does have a lower salary potential though; the BLS reported an annual yearly income of $60,000 for this occupation as of May 2011.


If you like working behind the scenes but aren't so keen on managing individuals, you may want to work as a film or television producer. In this position, you'll manage the financial and business aspects of a production. You'll likely need a bachelor's degree and many years of experience in your industry to begin working in this field. The BLS reports that the job outlook is expected to increase about as fast as average at 11% from 2010-2020. In May 2011, the average annual salary for producers and directors was about $92,000.

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