Entry-level Hollywood assistant salaries might give you a heart attack when you factor in the cost of living in Los Angeles. The minimum wage in California as of January 2018 is $11 an hour for companies larger than 26 people and $10.50 an hour for companies with 25 or fewer employees. It’s expected to rise to $15 an hour by 2022.

A pretty standard base salary for an entry-level assistant job in the entertainment industry is around $600-$650 a week. Salaries generally have not risen over the past ten years, even though the cost of living has gone up considerably. And let’s note that when I say “entry-level” salary, it applies a little above and beyond that. Your pay may not see much of an increase as an assistant or coordinator for up to the first 10 years of your career.

I rounded up the following salary information by doing something unorthodox and asking the people I know how much money they make. Going in, I had some theories. One was that baseline entry-level salaries are all pretty much the same. The second being that assistants are overworked and underpaid. So let me give a huge, huge thanks to the anonymous assistants who helped pull together this information.

The following are estimated rates for assistants at agencies, management companies, and production companies as well as salaries for television assistants in proximity to the writers’ room such as showrunner’s assistants, writers’ assistants, writers’ PAs, and post PAs.

Here’s an updated grid of writer-related info that’s been circulating.

Agency Assistant

Rates & Raises: Many agencies seem to work on an hourly rate. One friend reported making $11.50 an hour (x1.5 overtime) at a major agency around 2015-2016. Another reported $11.25 an hour with overtime after 8 hours (a typical day is 9 hours, more during pilot season if you work in talent theatrical). They ended at $12.50 in 2013. When the company hired a new assistant, they went back to the initial rate. In a third instance, the rate was salaried at $600 a week.

Major agency raise was less than 50 cents over year. Some companies raise 25 cents every six months.

Benefits: Full healthcare benefits after 3 months, 2 weeks paid time off during holidays

Negotiation: No room for negotiation at major agencies, sometimes room for negotiation at boutique or smaller companies.

Bonus: Several hundred dollars at the end of the year.

Management Assistant

Rates & Raises: In one instance, someone started at $500 a week and worked their way to $800 a week over four years. Another started at $26,000 a year and is working for about $40,000 a year in 2016.

Benefits: Healthcare included for one friend, but not for two others at different companies. Expense accounts, 2 weeks paid time off during holidays

Negotiation: No one negotiated their initial salary, but many negotiated pay, expenses, travel to festivals, etc… over time.

Bonus: Holiday bonus of several hundred dollars in one instance and $1500 in another.

Production Company Assistant

Rate & Raises: One person reported an hourly rate of less than $12 an hour with overtime at x1.5. This was for 2012-2013. Another person quoted $30-$35k a year.

Benefits: Healthcare included.

Negotiation: Took what was offered. No room for negotiation.

Bonus: No bonus, but gift from boss

Receptionist

Rate & Raises: This is typically a minimum wage job. Minimum wage now is $10.50 an hour in California. That’s $420 a week. One person started at $26,000 a year and ended at $27,000 a year.

Benefits: Healthcare included.

Negotiation: No one negotiated.

Bonus: Small bonuses, typically around $100.

Post PA

Rate & Raises: $650/week with overtime after 11 hours. Studio standard increases pay by 3% after a year, making salary for the 2014-2015 year $670 a week.

Benefits: Healthcare (small amount deducted from paycheck to cover costs)

Negotiation: Attempted to negotiate after one year, was shut down.

Bonus: No bonus. A gift card from boss.

Writers’ PA

Rate & Raises: $700/week with overtime after 12 hours

Benefits: Healthcare included (small amount deducted from paycheck to cover costs).

Negotiation: Took what was offered

Bonus: N/A

Writers’ Assistant

Rates & Raises: Rates for this job have a variable based on perceived experience and the company who’s paying. A first-time writers’ assistant may be paid less than someone who has done it before or someone who is already working on the show and transitions into the role. For 2016, the approximate entry-level rate for this position at a major studio is around $750-$850 a week. The raise seems to be about 2% per year. A seasoned assistant makes around $900 a week for a 60 hour work week. The pay is broken down hourly. So, it is one rate for 40 hours and then x1.5 for the next 20 hours and double time for anything over that. (This means a seasoned assistant is making around $12 an hour).

A 60 hour work week pulls in $800-$1000

Benefits: Healthcare (small amount deducted from paycheck to cover costs). The two-week holiday break is usually unpaid (unlike at agencies or management offices).

Negotiation: Can be negotiated.

Bonus: On one show there was no bonus, but the bosses gave one out of pocket. On another show, the bonus was several hundred dollars.

Check out this interview with a writers’ assistant for more info: HERE

Showrunner’s Assistant

Rate & Raises: In 2016, the average rate is between $700/week to start and $850/week for a more seasoned assistant (including a laptop rental fee for the use of a personal laptop). Someone recently told me that the set rate for showrunner’s assistant in their 1st year on a show at one major studio is $12.80 an hour plus 1.5x overtime.

Benefits: Healthcare included (small amount deducted from paycheck to cover costs).

Negotiation: Did not negotiate.

Bonus: Holiday bonus of $600.

Check out this interview with a showrunner’s assistant for more info: HERE

Script Coordinator

Rate & Raises: In 2016, I do not have a starting rate for this position, but a seasoned coordinator makes $1000/week as a script coordinator.

Benefits: Healthcare included (small amount deducted from paycheck to cover costs).

Negotiation: Room for negotiation

Bonus: Several hundred dollars

Reader

Rate & Raises: Readers are often 1099 freelancers and paid per script. Rates vary tremendously. Full coverage rates go from $60-$100 per script for non-union freelancing (found at production companies, agencies, contests, etc…), but $75 is a good starting point ($60 is low for a feature). A more experienced reader starts at $100 plus. Some companies, which do not require full coverage, like the Blacklist, pay readers $40 per script.

Rates may vary on the type of material: pilot, feature, or book.

Benefits: No benefits, technically self-employed.

Negotiation: Did not negotiate.

Bonus: No.

Set PA

Minimum wage is $140 per 12 hour day. That’s $10 an hour for 8 hours plus $15 an hour for 4 hours. **REVISED: Since the minimum wage has risen as of July 2017 to $12 an hour, the rate has probably bumped up, so double check!

Check out The Anonymous Production Assistant‘s site for more info on being a PA.


You should know:

  • A company under five people does not have to provide you with healthcare.
  • Hours are typically 9AM-7PM, longer in production environments or during something like pilot season in representation.
  • 1099 employees need to be registered as a business.
  • Salaried employees do not get overtime.
  • Lunch is typically one hour.
  • You might need a side gig to boost your income.
  • Shows have an unpaid hiatus between seasons, ranging from weeks to months. You can collect unemployment during this time.
  • An assistant also brought to my attention that on shows “sometimes there is a ‘rental fee’ of $25 or $50 per week paid for [the use of my personal laptop]. This money is not taxed and you are sent a 1099 for it later. For example, this $50 is included in the $850/week I make.”
  • For help making your resume pop, check out Hollywood Resumes.

This roundup is not scientific. Keep in mind that these rates may vary. And, as always, let me know if you have a different experience! I’ll keep it updated.

JOIN THE AP CREW!

Get access to FREE screenwriting resources like workbooks, writing prompts, and more! Plus, an exclusive weekly newsletter with insider info.

*All emails include an unsubscribe link. You may opt-out at any time. See our privacy policy. Powered by ConvertKit