How to Become a Talent Agent

Careers as a Talent Agent

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Talent agents are people who work with creative artists to find opportunities for their employment. Talent agents work with a wide range of creative types like actors, writers, film artists, musicians, fashion and magazine models, professional athletes, and anyone in the entertainment business.

Want to know how to become a talent agent? Keep reading. We'll cover how much talent agents earn, the training necessary to become a talent agent, the skill set required to work as a talent agent, and the steps you have to take to work in the talent agency business.

Earning Potential and Salary for Talent Agents

How to Become a Talent AgentThe earning potential and salary for talent agents depends entirely on the success of their client base. Talent agents, like agents in any industry, only earn money if their clients earn money. Essentially, talent agents work on commission.

Talent agents must work out a payment plan with their clients before they start doing business with them. Talent agents earn a percentage of the income earned by their client base. If a talent agent's clients work often and earn a good salary, the talent agent will also get paid often and paid well. Talent agents work hard because if their clients don't make any money, they don't make any money either.

This works out well for a talent agent's client, because it is in the agent's best interest to negotiate the best possible pay for the jobs they book for their clients. Talent agents know that they make more money if their clients make more money.

The state of California is home to the largest number of talent agents thanks to the huge film and television industry there. In California, talent agents in the film and TV industry make 10% of what their clients earn. Technically, talent agents earn 10% of the talent's gross pay before any deductions, If a talent agent books a job for a client that pays $10,000, the talent agent earns $1,000. That percentage is based on California law which stipulates that a talent agent can not charge more than 10%. For comparison's sake, a print talent agent working for a novelist can charge up to 20% of the gross earnings of their clients. Other states have different laws about the maximum percentage taken by a talent agent. In many parts of the United States, talent agents may charge up to 20% or even higher.

Your potential income as a talent agent is dependent on how many clients you have and how hard you work to get them jobs. Many hard-working talent agents in Hollywood make six-figure salaries or more, while lower-tier talent agents in less affluent markets may earn a more meager salary.

Classes and Training for Talent Agents

Talent agencies are always looking for young people interested in learning the ins and outs of the talent agency business. It is common for talent agencies to provide in-house training and internship programs for qualified applicants who want to learn to be talent agents. There's no such thing as a college degree or vocational training in being a talent agent outside of programs offered in house by talent agencies.

That's not to say that wannabe talent agents shouldn't go to college. There's not a talent agency in the world that would consider providing in-house training to future talent agents who haven't demonstrated some ability at the higher education level. Take a look at the requirements of United Talent Agency, whose website says that "applicants must have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university to be considered." On top of that basic requirement, United suggests that applicants have part-time or full-time work experience and indicates that applicants with law degrees or graduate level degrees in business administration will be considered before applicants without this experience.

Because talent agents work closely with lawyers and businessmen, understanding the inner workings of the world of law and corporate finance are a huge help. It may be enough to earn a four year degree in business administration and take or audit some graduate level law or finance courses, though having a Master's degree or JD from an accredited college will put you at the top of the heap of talent agency training applicants.

What do you learn when you train to become a talent agent? Your first job in a talent agency is likely to be low level and tedious. United Talent Agency starts all of their talent agent trainees in the mail room, where they say trainees will learn the fundamentals of the talent agency business and get hands-on training in the day to day activities of a talent agent.

From the mail room, talent agent trainees are assigned to a specific agent who they shadow and assist in their everyday duties. Usually acting in an administrative or secretarial capacity, trainees on the road to becoming talent agents will learn the basics of talking with clients, working closely with creative artists, and handling the administrative tasks of a talent agent's office.

At the end of the training period, the length of which is determined by a trainee's abilities and progress, they are considered for promotion into the talent agency itself.

Qualifications to Become a Talent Agent

The qualifications to become a talent agent are simple: you must earn a four year degree (preferably in business, finance, or a field related to entertainment) and complete a training program. That program is usually determined by the talent agency you apply to work for, and can range from a year or less to multiple years of training before you become a full-fledged talent agent.

Becoming a Talent Agent Step by Step

Here are the steps to becoming a talent agent:

1. Work a part-time or full-time job during high school or college to gain work experience.

2. Earn a four-year degree from an accredited college or university.

3. Apply for and be accepted into a training program at a talent agency.

4. Complete the training program and be considered for promotion as a low level talent agent.

The life and work of a talent agent is at time glamorous, at times tedious, and potentially financially rewarding. If you want to work as a talent agent, plan on earning a college degree and training for a few years before being considered for hire as a talent agent with a big name talent agency.