Entertainment Jobs Q&A: Is Jumping Jobs Normal?

entertainment jobs relocation

Want to work in entertainment? Get ready to relocate.

An accounting major graduates from college and can find job opportunities in most any city or town of any size. Same for a teacher, a dentist or a computer programmer. That’s not to say it’s easy to find work in these careers, it’s just that they are more readily available in most areas of the country.

The same is not true for entertainment careers. Relocation is commonplace in our collective career path and that is where this weeks Entertainment Jobs Q&A question comes from.

If you have questions for our Q&A column please add them to the comments below, we’re always looking to give you the advice you need and want!

The Q:

What are the positives and negatives in moving to different organizations in different places to get additional opportunity or to advance? Is this common in the entertainment industry? And will I have to relocate to get started in the industry?

Randy J. from Bowie, Maryland

The A:

Randy, it’s a great question. Let’s look at this from two separate perspectives, breaking-in and advancing, and then we’ll join them in the middle.

Breaking into the entertainment industry, whether it’s in TV, Radio or something else, is going to require you to relocate about 90% of the time. Some of it depends on your chosen career path within the industry – for example, if you wanted to work in sales you could probably find work at a TV station close to home, but if you wanted to be a producer, reporter, director or various other paths – you’ll need to expand your geographical search.

TV and Radio stations exist in every city of the country, but the smaller the station, the smaller the staff – and since entertainment jobs are cool – the lower the turnover. Now don’t get distraught, it just means the chances are low the opportunity you seek is going to pop up right in your hometown.

entertainment jobs small tv station

This is not what I mean by starting small

Specific to you Randy – Bowie, Maryland is right between two of our largest TV and Radio markets – Baltimore and Washington D.C. – but when you are seeking entry level jobs you might find opportunities in Bozeman, MT, Binghamton, NY and Albany, GA.

My advice: pack your bags and head out of town!

Your first job in the entertainment industry is the most important because once you are in, you can stay in. But if you limit yourself to only places close to your geographic hub of comfort, you may give up hope after a while and take some lame cubicle job, forever looking back with wonder if you should have done something different.

OK, that’s a little dramatic but you get the point. Go where the opportunities are, even if that is someplace you may never have heard of.

As for advancement, in Television and Radio we call it climbing the “Market Ladder” – imagine you get a job as an Associate Producer for a local news channel in Bowling Green, Kentucky (Market 183) but after a year you realize there is a logjam ahead of you for producer jobs, no one is leaving, which means you have no opportunity for growth.

In the entertainment industry you often have to move out to move up.

Go find that producer job opening in Charleston, South Carolina and now you’ve jumped into a larger market, improved your job title and built your career. Keep climbing the ladder and before you know it you’ll be in a top 20 market earning well and with a resume that will get you noticed.

Let’s also look at this from an earnings standpoint.

I started out at CNN right out of college, I loved it and could have easily stayed there my entire career. But there was one major problem, I started out from a base pay of a Production Assistant, which back in 1996 was around 20k/year. Even if I got 10% raises per year – which wouldn’t happen since most places give you around 3% – I still would lag pretty far behind normal living expenses for a city like Atlanta.

For me personally, to move up in title and pay I needed to jump to another market and begin a new salary floor.

After seven years I reluctantly left CNN to work at Fox Sports Northwest as News Director, an opportunity I never would have had at CNN. Moving out from under CNN changed my entire pay structure. My bosses at CNN always knew me as a spunky Production Assistant who worked his way up, while Fox Sports saw me as a talented young journalist who they wanted to employ and were willing to pay.

television jobs

Let’s bring them back together now

In the entertainment industry it’s not only common to jump jobs and markets, it’s expected. Search the LinkedIn profile of anyone who has worked in TV or Radio and I guarantee you’ll find at minimum three market moves. To break in you have to be willing to go where the jobs are, and to advance you have to be willing to pick up and follow opportunity.

There will come a time where you can settle in and put down roots, just not usually for the first 5-10 years of your career – but if you love the industry like I do, it’s totally worth it.

If you have additional thoughts or would like to ask an Entertainment Jobs Q&A question add it to the comments below!

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

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