The global entertainment industry is expected to be worth over two TRILLION dollars by the end of 2022. That’s in spite of a dip in value caused by the 2020 pandemic – the industry is so resilient that it bounced back within a year of an enforced shutdown. So, if you're wondering how to get a job in the entertainment industry, it's no surprise. Who wouldn't want to get in on that?
Money aside, the entertainment industry has near-mythic status all around the world. Aspiring performers, directors and producers dream of Hollywood glamor, and of having a global stage on which to share their creative work.
But what’s the industry really like? Is it all creative? And how can you get involved without prior industry experience?
You’ve come to the right place to find out! In this guide we will cover:
If you want to work in the entertainment industry, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into. That means putting down the celebrity magazines and getting to grips with the unglamorous reality of the field.
Read on to find out the truth behind some of entertainment’s most pervasive myths. You’ll thank yourself later!
The drinks are always flowing, the fun never stops, and the work never really starts. If you’re feeling particularly optimistic, the party you imagine when you think about the entertainment industry might even have celebrity guests.
Needless to say, this isn’t true. While high-profile figures in the industry might attend the occasional celebrity party, the day-to-day work is a lot less glamorous. Whether you’re working in production, on a film crew, or as a booking agent, there’s always lots to do, and it involves very little in the way of Hollywood glitz.
The real appeal of working in the entertainment industry is the creative challenge it involves. You get to work with other creatively-minded people across a wide variety of projects. As long as you’re passionate about making media, the work will be rewarding even when it’s difficult or tiring.
So no, the entertainment industry isn’t an endless party – it’s far more satisfying than that.
Or a media production degree, or a theater studies degree – whatever your field, there is probably a highly specialized qualification available to suit it. But do you really need a specialist degree – or any degree at all – to work in entertainment?
For certain roles, there’s no denying that a degree can be helpful. If you’re looking to work in marketing or accounting roles within the industry, you may find that the skills you learn in college give your resume a helpful boost.
But a degree-level qualification in film, media production or similar might be more theoretical than practical. While you will learn a lot of theory in one of these programs, you won’t necessarily gain the practical skills that will give you a head start in the industry.
If you’re interested in learning these subjects for their own sake, go for it! But if you’re hoping to get ahead in the entertainment industry, take advantage of the other opportunities available to you in college. Look for internships, work placements and volunteer roles to get some hands-on experience before you start job searching.
Unfortunately, it’s a myth that the cream always rises to the top. If you’re hoping to work in the more practical areas of the entertainment industry – performing and other creative roles, or crew-based or backstage work – you’ll need more than raw talent to get ahead of the rest.
A lot of work in this area of the industry is freelance. That means networking is more than just a way to score more work; it’s a necessity if you want to build a lasting career. Keeping up an active list of contacts is the best way to maintain sustainable work in the entertainment industry, whether on camera or behind it.
Obviously talent is part of the deal. All the networking in the world won’t help you if you aren’t competent at what you do! But perseverance, people skills, and a willingness to put yourself out there will give your talent the stage it needs to shine.
If this myth were true, you wouldn’t be able to watch movies in theaters or stream your favorite music online. All those performers probably wouldn’t even get paid. That’s a measure of how important non-performing roles are in the entertainment industry.
Performers rely on booking agents and talent managers to help them build sustainable careers, and on publicists and marketing agents to keep them in the public eye. Movies, music, and public performances all need funding to get off the ground – they wouldn’t get it without production companies willing to finance the work of making art. And what would any film or TV show be without crew members, caterers, and on-set PAs?
So if you’re not at home on camera or on the mic, don’t give up on the entertainment industry. You’ll find that it runs on the work that happens behind the scenes – and your skills might just be the perfect fit.
So you think you want to work in entertainment – but entertainment is an extremely broad church. If you’re struggling to figure out where you might fit, here’s a quick guide to some common roles within the industry. You’ll be sending out your resume in no time!
Average salary: $36,000 (with potential for commission)
Agents and managers of all kinds are the link between performers and their public. A talent agent helps a performer book paid work in their industry, while a booking agent negotiates live appearances by a performer. Most agents and managers specialize in one particular field of the entertainment industry – the film industry and the music industry are very different, and working across both can be a serious challenge.
Roles in this area require strong negotiating abilities. When you’re trying to negotiate a better deal for your client, you need to understand industry trends and apply them to secure the best possible deal. And while it might go without saying, it’s crucial for agents and managers to have solid people skills – building a network of contacts is a vital part of this field of work.
When hiring agents and managers, many companies will look for candidates with at least an associate’s degree. However, it’s far more important for candidates to know and understand the industry. It’s rare for anyone to become an agent without having worked elsewhere in the industry first, so be prepared to put in some time as an intern or agent’s assistant.
But if you play your cards right, it’s possible to achieve real success as an agent or manager. Many successful agents end up founding their own agencies or talent management companies, or rising to executive roles within existing companies.
Average salary: $55,000
If you can back up your love of entertainment with a data-driven, business-minded approach, you might be a great fit for a role in production.
Producers take care of the financial side of entertainment. They find funding for projects like movies, TV shows and even video games, and then oversee the production process from beginning to end. Producers take final responsibility for a project’s budget, schedule, and hiring processes – when it comes to making an entertainment product, the buck usually stops with the producer.
As a rule, production roles usually require a bachelor’s degree. However, they also require between one and five years of industry experience – most producers get their start as interns or production assistants, supporting the production process and learning what goes into making entertainment. There is no one fixed career path to becoming a producer, though, and many producers get their start in booking, venue management, or even creative work before finding a foothold in production.
If you establish yourself as a producer, you could rise through the ranks to an executive role in your production company, overseeing producers working across a wide array of projects. With the right connections, you could even start your own production company!
Average salary: $32,000-$40,000
If you have a marketable skill and want to share it with the world, you could try to turn it into a career in the entertainment industry. Whether you’re in front of the camera or behind it, it’s possible to work your way up to success!
Talent- and performance-based roles in entertainment will depend heavily on your skills. You might be a singer, a musician, an actor, an animator, or a director – or, on the other side of the camera, you may be an audio engineer, a video producer, a lighting engineer, or a costume designer. The possibilities are endless, and they don’t usually require formal education – but they do require networking skills, talent, and seriously hard work.
Getting work as a performer or a crew member is often about who you know. Being able to point to past experience can be a great help when looking for work, as can an existing connection with a producer or talent agent. If you want to get a start in this area of the industry, the best approach is to put yourself out there, make as many industry connections as possible, and persevere.
And if you manage to find success in this area, you could find yourself working on more and more high-profile projects. While there aren’t usually clear-cut career paths for these roles, the increased recognition – and pay – is its own reward.
As we’ve explained, the entertainment industry demands more than just talent. If you want to stand out from the other applicants in the resume pile, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the entertainment industry is powered by connections. If you know someone who knows someone in the industry, don’t be nervous! Let them know you’re job searching, and ask if they know of any opportunities that might suit you.
Networking can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t used to it. Remember, the key is to treat people like people – not just as vending machines for jobs. Be respectful, considerate, and kind, and don’t forget to thank them for any help they’re able to offer you.
Last but not least, remember that you might be someone’s contact in the industry someday. Once you’ve made it to the upper floors of your career, it’s good to send the elevator back down. You’ll quickly build a reputation for consideration and generosity if you do.
No matter where you need to fill a gap on your resume, there’s a wealth of courses and certifications available online. You can choose a course to suit your schedule and your budget, so you can learn something new without compromising any other part of your life.
Hoping to land a technical role in a recording studio? Consider taking a course on sound engineering, to boost your chances of making it to interview. These courses aren’t just for technical skills, either – if you’re worried about a lack of past management experience, an online course could help to boost your confidence before you apply for that dream role.
Not only will courses teach you valuable skills that could give you the edge over other candidates – they’ll show hiring managers that you’re committed to personal development. In its own right, that dedication to lifelong learning is a great asset for any workplace.
If you’ve ever held a job before, you probably have more relevant skills than you think you do! Even something as simple as meeting deadlines or dealing with customers can be a transferrable skill.
Remember, you shouldn’t be sending out generic resumes to every job. Don’t be afraid to tailor your resume to a particular role, foregrounding the skills and experience that prove you’re a great fit. Likewise, make sure your cover letter draws on any relevant experience that might have equipped you for a specific role.
Entertainment may seem highly specialized, but the basic skills you need to get ahead in any workplace are usually the same. If you can prove that you know how to conduct yourself in any given work environment, you’re halfway there already.
Competition for work in the entertainment industry can be brutal. If you don’t have any prior work experience, whether in the industry or elsewhere, finding your way in might seem impossible.
Don’t despair! Here are some simple ways to give yourself an edge as a new job searcher in the entertainment industry.
If you’re still in college, there’s no better time to start acquiring experience in the entertainment field. Don’t believe me? Ask any student theater company, film society, or band.
Student theater is a particularly great way to build your skills. Every production needs a cast, director and crew – so sign up to that mailing list, put in the time at auditions, and get to work. And if you have an idea for a production of your own, why not put yourself out there as a producer?
If you play in a band, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to make a name for yourself on the college party circuit. The process of arranging gigs can give you that all-important insight into how the industry works – so whatever you’re hoping to do in the industry later on, you’ll be able to say you’ve seen it from the inside already.
Even if the financial rewards are thin on the ground, the experience will pay dividends when it’s time to find a job. Get out there and make it happen!
Most major roles in entertainment require at least a little prior industry experience. If you apply for a job as a producer without ever having worked in entertainment before, you’re unlikely to make it very far.
Start small, and build your career from there. A stint as a production assistant might mean long hours spent on your feet, but it will give you valuable insight into the day-to-day work of producing entertainment. What’s more, it will give you access to new connections and potential mentors who can help you develop your entertainment career.
Later on, you’ll be able to apply what you learned at entry level to do a better job – for any clients you work with, as well as for yourself.
Dear hiring manager,
I’m proud to apply for the role of agent’s assistant at Max Talent, which I saw advertised on LinkedIn. I’m a huge fan of many of the clients on your roster, from Tara Quick to the Daughters of Fate, and it would be my privilege to work alongside your amazing team in taking their careers from strength to strength.
I have had the opportunity to start my career as an agent’s assistant at Shooting Star Representation. This has been my first role in the industry, and it has taught me that my energy, positivity and enthusiasm are assets in this line of work. Even when dealing with the less glamorous aspects of the role, like preparing contracts, I have maintained my can-do attitude and have made a point of never presenting anything less to clients or industry contacts. That positivity has made me a valued member of the team at Shooting Star, as colleagues have offered me opportunities to learn new skills and try new things. Just this year, I achieved the proudest moment of my career so far – helping a singer achieve her debut record deal! I was so honored to be invited to participate in the deal-making process.
I hope to bring both enthusiasm and experience to this role, and to maintain and expand Max Talent’s reputation as a power hitter in the industry. To that end, my resume is attached. Thank you so much for your time and attention, and I hope to hear from you shortly!
Dear hiring manager,
I am writing to introduce myself as a candidate for the role of production assistant at the Rosenfeld Company. When I saw this role advertised on Twitter, I knew it was the perfect role for me. I’ve loved so many of your movies – recent hit Go Away is a personal favorite – and I believe passionately in your company’s values of quality production without compromise on high ethical standards. I know my experience and skills will enable me to do those values justice.
I am currently employed as a junior production assistant at Granville Productions. This role has given me the opportunity to broaden my skills by supporting my colleagues in their work, assisting with every aspect of production from development to distribution. The broad scope of this position has not prevented me from bringing my focus and work ethic to every new challenge. In fact, when working with the research team to prepare for shooting, I realized that each team member was working independently without much collaboration. By suggesting a more joined-up approach, I was able to help the team streamline the research process and reduce time to post-production by 10%.
That commitment to efficient, collaborative work is just the beginning of what I believe I can bring to this role. I understand that this industry can be fraught with challenges, and it would be my privilege to help the Rosenfeld Company to navigate them from day to day.
My resume is attached. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon!
Summary Dynamic and enthusiastic agent’s assistant, with experience working with clients in music, theater and stand-up comedy. Exacting standards of accuracy and attention to detail, with experience preparing contracts, handling day-to-day client and contact communications, and providing administrative support where necessary. Proven track record of building relationships with clients, colleagues, and industry contacts. Eager to learn and develop professionally.
Work Experience Agent’s Assistant Shooting Star Representation
Intern Rose Talent Inc
Education Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies University of Texas, Austin
Summary Self-motivated and enthusiastic production assistant with extensive knowledge of the film industry. Detail-oriented and results-focused, with proven ability to multitask and manage hard deadlines without sacrificing quality. A team player with a collaborative and supportive mindset, keen to learn new skills and able to foster strong relationships with colleagues and executive staff. Approaches new challenges with a strong work ethic and a willingness to think outside the box.
Work Experience Junior Production Assistant Granville Productions
Intern Alphabetical Film
Education Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television University of Michigan
The entertainment industry can seem impenetrable from the outside, but no matter your background, it’s possible to find a way in. Build your network and your skills, work your way up, and you could find yourself making art that’s talked about all around the world!
If you’re looking to smarten up your resume before applying for that dream role, VisualCV can help. Check out our resume templates, and start building the perfect application for a role in entertainment today.
Content Writer + Resume Expert
Waverly is a freelance writer, former HR officer and current international traveller. They believe in doing your research, showing up prepared, and bringing your passions with you to work. They've helped countless job seekers create better resumes and cover letters to improve and grow their careers.
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