The Average Salary of a Movie Theater Employee

Movie theater growth has been on the decline, including employment in this field, thanks to streaming services, COVID-19 and other cultural developments. Still, in 2020 there were 92,722 movie theater workers in the United States, according to IBISWorld. If you are considering employment in a movie theater, there are a variety of movie theater job roles you could choose to apply for.

Movie Theater Pay Basics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salaries for all 153,330 workers in the motion picture and video industries was $13.28 per hour or $27,620 per year as of May 2019. This figure included not only the salaries of the staff in the front lobby, such as ushers and ticket takers, but also the chief executives of movie theater corporations, who earned a mean $43.79 per hour or $91,090 per year; maintenance and repair workers, who averaged $18.13 per hour or $37,710 per year; and janitors, who received a mean $12.17 per hour or $25,310 per year. To calculate the movie theater salary for part-time workers, simply prorate the annual or hourly rates.

Projectionists Salary

Arguably the most technically knowledgeable employees in movie theaters, projectionists set up and adjust the film reels in projectors so the audience can enjoy the film. In multiplexes, they are responsible for running several projectors at once, and more are handling digital devices. Most have a minimum high school diploma. They learn their trade through union apprenticeships with more experienced workers. They earned a mean $13.78 per hour or $28,660 per year in 2019.

Ushers and Ticket Takers

Ushers, ticket takers and other lobby attendants are the most common movie theater employees that audiences encounter. These workers sell tickets, popcorn and other refreshments, greet patrons, examine tickets, guide audiences to screens, seats or exits, and help solve customer problems. No previous education is required because they receive their training on the job. Almost one-third have less than a high school diploma, one-third have a high school diploma and a quarter have some college with no degree. Ushers and ticket takers made a mean $10.86 per hour or $22,580 per year.

Supervisor Salary

With some experience and management abilities, movie theater employees can become supervisors who made a mean $19.28 per hour or $40,110 per year. These first-line supervisors of sales workers oversee the smooth running of theaters by assigning positions and tasks, setting up staff schedules, hiring and training new employees, recording and reporting on operational issues, and dealing with customers issues that their subordinates cannot resolve. Some postsecondary training in management and business is desirable though, many reach their positions after some experience in subordinate jobs.