How Much Do Casting Directors Make?

Many articles around the web cite an average casting director salary based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage report. 

That isn’t exactly accurate. 

That’s because the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage report does not include a category for casting directors. 

The Occupational Employment and Wage report includes wage reports for actors, producers, and directors—but not casting directors (US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage, May 2019)

How Much Do Casting Directors Make? 

Using a calculation of reported averages, the average casting director salary is $71,835 USD.

This is based on a handful online data sources (see in references at the bottom of the post). I combined the data and averaged it to give us a fuller picture of casting professional salaries.

I’m afraid that this number won’t be very useful to you if you’re a casting professional trying to price out a project or negotiate pay.

That’s because the field and practice of casting varies widely. How much a casting professionals makes depends on factors like:

  • Location
  • How often you work 
  • The production budget
  • Your experience and previous projects
  • Whether you are part of a casting director union
  • Whether you work for a studio, network, are hired by a production company, or work for a casting office (or, alternatively, if you serve as part of an in-house content team for a private company, which has become increasingly common in recent years)
  • Whether you are casting extras, lead roles, principals, or speaking parts

Additionally, the way casting professionals structure their pay varies.

Casting earnings can come in the form of annual salaries, but often they are often negotiated according to other terms: per project, per day, per week, or per role cast.

So, in order to provide you with accurate casting director salary numbers that give you a clear, realistic picture of how much casting professionals can expect to make, I dug into the data and produced this detailed salary guide. 

Casting Job Title Hierarchy

As with most careers in film, TV, and media, the road to becoming a casting director is not straightforward. 

In a simple scenario, a casting office is made up of three roles according to experience: the Casting Director (the most senior position), with a Casting Associate (mid-career) and Casting Assistant (entry-level). 

There are a lot of blurred lines between the duties that casting professionals perform at each level in the career ladder hierarchy, and the titles shift based on the type of production as well as the geographical area. 

Average Casting Director Salary 

How much do Casting Directors make? 

That’s a really good question.

I stated above that the Casting Director average salary is $71,835 USD. This is a rough calculation that combined reported averages from various salary databases and film industry resources. 

You’ve seen above that there are many blurred lines between the duties and experience levels of the different casting job titles. It’s hard to know based on the calculated average of $71,835 if your earnings are within the standard range because the salaries reported for “Casting Director” can encompass many different interpretations of the Casting Director role. 

Maybe this breakdown will be more useful.

Below, I’ve separated the lower end of the range and the higher end of the range to look more accurately the low and high end of the ranges, which can be indicative of entry-level and senior-level salaries, respectively. 

Entry-Level Casting Salary

Here’s a list of the reported salaries that constitute the low end of the casting salary range. It’s likely that most Casting Assistants or other entry-level roles can expect salaries like these (numbers have all been converted to USD for consistency):

  • $23,500
  • $34,000
  • $35,532
  • $35,720
  • $36,000
  • $42,060

Based on these reported numbers:

  • The average entry-level casting salary would be $34,468 USD. 
  • The entry-level salary range would be $23,500 to $42,060.

Senior Level Casting Salary

Of course, there are outliers—some Casting Directors have made a very big name for themselves, and I doubt that the average reported salaries include earnings from the likes of Kerry Barden or Ellen Chenoweth. 

Let’s assume that the high end of the reported salary range corresponds to more senior casting roles requiring several years of experience. 

The high end of the range has been reported at:

  • $74,192
  • $80,500
  • $104,000
  • $120,559
  • $127,000
  • $164,000
  • $235,000

Based on these reported numbers:

  • The average senior-level casting director salary would be $129,251 USD. 
  • The range would be $74,192 to $235,000.

Average Earnings Per Project

Many casting professionals do not negotiate an annual salary, which is why the averages described in this article can only take you so far. 

Instead, it’s very common for casting to negotiate pay with the studio, network, or production company based on:

  • Per project
  • Per day
  • Per week
  • Per major role cast

Interviews with Casting Directors have produced some ballpark ranges for these per-project rates:

The per-project rate range of pay is really wide, with CD reporting anything from $800 – $18,000 per project. 

Some have even said they’re aware of casting directors who make $100,000 per project for major feature films, but since these are rare opportunities, we can assume that most casting directors are not making this kind of per-project income. 

References:

I’ve used these resources when compiling data on casting director salary numbers:

Questions? Comments? Feel free to send me a note.

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