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The Average Salary & Education Needed to Be a Talent Agent

by Karen Farnen

Talent agents keep artists, actors, singers and athletes in the public eye. As promoters and managers, talent agents find work for their clients and negotiate the best possible pay. Many also manage their clients' business finances -- for example collecting and keeping track of fees. The education you'll need depends on where you apply, and in any case, skills and experience count. Not all talent agents earn big salaries, but some hit the jackpot.

College Training

Talent agency jobs attract a lot of applicants, but a college degree will increase your chances. According to the U.S. New University Directory, the preferred degree varies from agency to agency. Some employers prefer grads with business degrees, either a bachelor's or a master's degree, and preferably with a marketing specialty. Some recommended classes include finance, marketing and accounting. Other agencies prefer to hire grads with a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or advertising, including classes in sales, marketing and consumer behavior. Another possible degree is a bachelor's in public relations, with classes in advertising and business administration.

Other Qualifications

You'll need more than a newly-minted degree to stand out in the field of talent agency applicants. Whatever your major, you'll need strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as good computer skills. Work experience related to entertainment, sports or advertising or a college internship in a talent agency will also strengthen your application. Whether through classes or experience, you'll need an understanding of the sport or art involved to represent your clients' interests properly.

Salary Basics

The wages of talent agents cover a wide range from quite modest to very attractive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed the salaries of 11,770 agents nationwide in 2012 and reported their average annual income at $88,620 per year. However, the lowest-earning 10 percent made $27,500 per year or less, while the top 25 percent earned at least $110,550 per year or more. The top 10 percent earned so much that the BLS doesn't give a specific figure, reporting only that their annual wages equaled at least $187,199.

Industry Breakdown

Your earnings as an agent depend in part on the type of employer you work for. Talent agencies for artists, athletes and entertainers paid their agents an average of $96,120 per year in 2012, according to the BLS survey. Sports and performing arts promoters paid agents an average of $68,260 annually, while performing arts companies paid $63,680 per year on average. Talent agents for independent performers or artists received average annual wages of $94,640 per year.

High-Paying Locations

The nation's major centers of population and entertainment had some of the most stratospheric salaries for talent agents in 2012. In California, agents averaged $119,170 per year, while salaries in Virginia averaged $116,400, reported the BLS. Four major metro regions reported average salaries exceeding $120,000 per year. The greater Oakland, California metropolitan area had the top average pay of $137,180 per year, while the Minneapolis region reported average annual pay of $132,690. The greater Washington, D.C. region and the Los Angeles area each reported average pay of approximately $122,000 per year. In addition, the Los Angeles area had the most work among these cities, reporting 3,230 jobs in 2012.

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