What is this career about?
Movie theaters are more than just places people go to watch movies. They have concession stands, arcades, ushers, and larger theaters have other amenities, like restaurants, concierge services, valet parking, and even spas. There are also managerial positions at all sorts of levels. This is a career that is focused on giving people a certain experience. If you have a love of the cinema, but also enjoy helping other people, this is a career path where you can experience both.
What growth is likely?
There are about 135,000 movie theater employees in the U.S. at this moment, with the largest segment of them working in concessions. This accounts for about 35,000 jobs. About 7,000 individuals work as projectors, with the others comprising mostly of ushers, ticket sellers, and managers.
The theater business is a difficult one to gauge because many privately owned theaters have gone under and have given way to the chain. This is actually a good thing for job seekers, though. Privately owned theaters have many risk variables that are easily overcome by a corporate, larger company, setting. These companies have less risk of folding, and they offer better employee benefits, such as 401(k) retirement accounts, medical, vision, dental, and life insurance, and may have employee discounts for going to shows and concessions products.
Entry level concession positions average just over $8.50 an hour in this field. Ticket booth attendants average around $9 per hour, while other positions can go up to the same. Those that work in the projection booth will see higher pay rates as this requires advanced training and more experience. Managers tend to make the highest amount, averaging between $32,000 and $61,000 a year, depending on experience, the size of the theater, and the company that they work for.
There are also different supervisory positions within the bigger companies. These pay around $11 an hour, again depending on the company you work with.
Again, there is some pressure on the movie industry. Streaming services like Netflix are making movie theaters work harder to provide a different sort of experience. While this could negatively impact some companies, others are stepping up and creating different types of services that cannot be replicated in the home. This is creating new jobs, some of which are not associated with the traditional movie theater stereotype. For those looking for an exciting and fast moving career, this is actually a good opportunity as the industry adapts to new stimulus from other media.
How to succeed?
First, you should act and look professional. This will reflect well on the theater, and make hiring managers more apt to hire you in the first place. Your image is a part of the theater’s image, and therefore you should be positive, helpful, and eager to please your customers. You should be able to move quickly, helping your customers in whatever area you end up. If you are a cashier in a sales booth, you should be able to perform basic math with the help of a computer or register, and you should be able to accurately count change and process credit cards. Ushers should have a friendly demeanor and be able to assist moviegoers with their needs as they find their seats.
To move up in the ranks of a theater, you should show initiative. You don’t need advanced training for most positions, but when opportunities come, you should be willing to get any training that might be required. Being willing to learn new skills will place you far ahead of most of your coworkers.
Knowledge of how to run a business can help, especially as you move up into a supervisory or managerial role. Knowing which films will bring in the largest crowds in your areas, being able to find the right employees, and so on, will help you as you move up the ranks in this industry. It’s an exciting time to work in a theater, and there are plenty of career trajectories here that can lead to great pay and a rewarding career. If this seems like something that you would enjoy, a movie theater career is worth looking into.
Who should apply?
Movie theaters will hire part time workers as young as 16 years of age. These do not extend beyond entry level positions, usually within the concession or ticket sales area. Full time positions require you to be 18, and for the most part, extended education or experience is not required. Some locations will prefer a high school diploma or GED to ensure that you are responsible, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Managerial spots do not require a college degree, but having a business degree, or something to do with hospitality, can be to your benefit.
Really, the people that should be applying to careers in the movie theater industry are those that love movies, love helping people, and are hardworking and motivated individuals. People that are interested in giving their customers an extravagant experience on their night out will thrive here. This is a fast moving industry, but the love of films is something that has lasted for generations. If you love the theater and want to help others do the same, this is a great career opportunity with plenty of potential for growth.