Production Assistant: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a production assistant. Learn about job duties, training requirements, employment outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Production Assistant?

Production assistants perform entry-level work on film and television sets. Their job is to support the director. They may run errands, gather props or bring actors to the set. Production assistants must be organized and communicate well with the director, assistant directors and other crew members. They also need to be flexible, resourceful and prepared to do a variety of tasks at a moment's notice to help the production run smoothly. Many filmmaking occupations start out at the production assistant level to learn the business. There's limited career information on production assistants since individuals enter the role from other entry-level film positions. You can find out more about this career by reviewing the information below.

Training Required On-the-job training; bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Film, TV production, broadcasting
Key Responsibilities Bringing props to set; answer phones; make and distribute copies of scripts; pick-up and deliver food
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for all occupations in production and directing)
Median Salary (2017)** $29,744

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Does a Production Assistant Do?

A production assistant, also called a PA, does whatever the crew on a film or television set requires. If you are looking for opportunities to move up in the industry after graduating from a production program, you might begin as a production assistant.

Many camera operators, for instance, begin as production assistants to learn the basics of the position. In this position, you would need to know how to control the camera, audio consoles, teleprompters and lights.

You must understand television and audio production equipment to become a production assistant. Also, you might be asked to make coffee and to photocopy scripts.

What Should I Study?

While a degree program in communication media/public relations would prepare you for a position as a television production assistant, you might also consider a bachelor's degree program in film production to gain a deeper knowledge of the process. In this program, you would learn about production, screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing and sound, and use your knowledge to create short films. You would be exposed to a variety of genres, including television dramas, documentaries, commercials and avant-garde films.

Bachelor's degree programs in TV production are available if you are looking for practical training in television. You would study lighting, sound and floor management, directing, editing, producing, broadcast writing, reporting and media law.

How Can I Get Further Training and Experience?

You might find additional opportunities working for your college radio station, local television stations or through internships. You could learn more about the film industry by participating in a production assistant boot camp. A program would train you in the duties of the crew, industry jargon and the etiquette of working on a set. You could expand your knowledge of filmmaking and learn about different positions in the industry.

How Much Might I Earn?

Salary.com reports that the salary for production assistants in the 25-75th percentile range was between $28,499 and $31,027 as of February 2017. Production assistants earned a median salary of $29,744 in the same year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

An actor is a similar position that typically requires some college education. These professionals also work on various performing arts productions. They portray different characters to help tell the performance's story. Film/video editors and camera operators in addition to writers and authors are also related careers, but require a bachelor's degree. Film and video editors and camera operators also work on productions and change the images that an audience sees. They may edit or move the shot to help tell the story. Writers and authors produce the written content for things like scripts, books, songs, blogs and more.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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