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Entertainment Salaries: Academy Awards Behind the Scenes

By Bridget Quigg

Glitz, glam and garbage cans overflowing: these are all realities of one of Hollywood’s biggest nights, the Academy Awards. Started in 1929, the “Oscars,” as they’re more fondly known, bring leading directors, writers, and actors into the spotlight. But, who’s making sure that the spotlight works and shines in the right spot? And, how high are behind-the-scenes entertainment salaries?

Online salary and career site PayScale.com takes you to the “concrete carpet” at the Academy Awards to find out about the workers who are making the whole event come together. We’ve put together a list of essential players, their typical level of education, their median pay and their pay in the 90th percentile. Why include the 90th percentile earners? Well, we figured that only the best get invited to work the Oscars so they’re likely paid more than the folks with average skills.

Want to work at the Academy Awards? Below we highlight a few of the positions that are essential to making the night go smoothly. You can also view the entire “Behind the Scenes at the Academy Awards” package to learn about more of the unseen and important people working on the night when Hollywood shines brightest.

Security consultant
90th percentile annual pay: $135,000

The person in charge of security for the Oscars has to begin working well in advance of the big night. Where are the entrances to the theater? When will the celebrities arrive? How close will the public get to them? From the precious envelopes with the names of the winners to the exiting audience members, security experts have plenty to protect.

Set designer
90th percentile annual pay: $107,000

The special flourishes for certain presentations, and the basic backdrop used for announcing winners, need to flow seamlessly together, wowing the audience as they come and go. The Oscars require several set designers to make sure that each moment of the night is beautifully framed.

Senior accountant
90th percentile annual pay: $70,400

Only the best number crunchers get to add up the votes for the many Oscar awards, like “Best Picture,” “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Makeup.” The internationally renowned firm PricewaterhouseCoopers takes care of the vote counting, with top accountants working under the scrutiny of partners in the firm.

Fashion designer
90th percentile annual pay: $96,500

Certainly, the most famous players in the Academy Awards show, next to the celebrities, are those who design the fabulous frocks. Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Prada, Versace, Michael Kors – these are names we hear over and over as stars walk the red carpet. And, while those well-know designers likely make much more than the 90th percentile in pay, the up and coming artists making a splash on the red carpet may make this salary.

Stage Manager
90th percentile annual pay: $74,400

You can just imagine this person backstage, dressed in black, with a mic in their ear and a clipboard in their hand. All of the entrances and exits on the stage throughout the night must happen at exactly the right moment so that the cameras capture everything and the evening ends at a reasonable time.

Source: The median pay shown for each job title reflects the typical total cash compensation for that position across all locations and industries. Total cash compensation includes base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. It stands to reason that those who secure a job behind the scenes at the Academy Awards will be paid on the higher end of the pay distribution. For this reason, we also include the 90th percentile pay as an approximate measure of top earners in the field. Levels of experience vary depending on the job requirements for each position. The typical level of education of people in these job positions is also listed.

 

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