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How to Be a Successful Talent Agent

by Tony Guerra

A talent agent, also known as a booking agent, finds employment for actors, musicians, writers and other people in the entertainment industry. Talent agents also support the interests of their clients, such as negotiating compensation. Most professional talent agents begin their careers as interns, and many talent agencies look for college graduates with bachelor's or master's degrees. Talent agents work very hard, and successful ones continually demonstrate drive, creativity and a deep knowledge of the entertainment industry.

Talent Agent Categories

Talent Agent Harry Takhar on the Entertainment Agent Blog, notes that talent agents generally fall into three categories: A, B or C. A-level talent agents work for the most powerful and influential agencies handling all the top stars. B- and C-level agents work at talent agencies that may not be as influential in the industry but are more willing to work with up-and-coming entertainers. Becoming a successful talent agent frequently means starting out at in a talent agency's internship program, sometimes in the mailroom.

Talent Agent Training

Talent agencies of all sizes offer training to those looking to become talent agents. If you hope to become a successful talent agent, gaining training experience in all facets of a talent agency's operation is important. Office-based internships are the most common way for talent agents to start out. Takhar states that prospective talent agents at A-level agencies usually spend four to six months in a mailroom before moving to assistant positions.

Full-Time Agent Employment

As a talent agency assistant, you must be able to perform a great deal of work for one or several assigned full-time talent agents. Assistants to talent agency full-time agents are regularly assessed by senior agency executives for their job performance. Only assistants that can demonstrate a complete grasp of the operations are considered for full-time employment, Takhar says. As a full-time talent agent, your success will depend on your motivation, networking skills and salesmanship abilities.

Successful Talent Agents

The most successful talent agents work for the top agencies or establish their own agencies after gaining industry recognition. Much of a talent agent's day is spent working very hard to secure employment for others. Successful talent agents are also able to effectively combine negotiating skills with marketing, sales and business activities. Many successful talent agents take the time to learn business, especially how the billing of both talent and clients works, as well as how contracts are written and executed.

Industry Growth Trends

As of May 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that talent agents earned a median annual salary of $64,790. Talent agents are located most frequently in U.S. coastal areas such as New York State and California, though Illinois and Tennessee also have large numbers. The annual mean wage for a California talent agent was nearly $128,000, while a Florida talent agent's was $45,350. "U.S. News & World Report" notes that employment growth for talent agents will be strong through 2018, especially for experienced agents.

About the Author

Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Photo Credits

  • Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images