Contracts and Salaries

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  Prop Director       Prop Artisan        Prop Skills       Prop Training       Prop Internships    






     Contract length and salaries of prop staff have evolved along with the definition of job titles. Salary determination also is impacted by size of the organization and the length and complexity of the season.  If the theatre has a contract with IATSE the salaries are determined by negotiation with the Union and non-union employees are not covered in those negotiations but will probably be impacted by those pay scales. 

on the internal accountability structure, many properties directors are making a comparable wage with the technical director averaging around $780 weekly. (2007 survey-SPAM) The average properties director makes around $40,000 yearly before taxes and withholding.  The properties director is an “administrative” or “artistic” position and is not usually a part of an IATSE contract.  Due to it’s salaried nature, overtime is not granted so during tech. and load-in weeks while the hours spent at the theatre may double, the salary remains the same.  Those shops with IATSE contracts who have staff earning overtime soon see the staff earning more than the properties director.

     Properties artisans are in the same range for salaries and contract lengths as a scenic carpenter or costume artisan.  Staff hours during non-tech weeks were commonly a forty-hour week with an additional ten to thirty hours during load-in and tech week.  While many properties directors are now full-time staff with yearly contracts, most prop artisans are hired on contracts ranging between twenty-eight to forty-two weeks with an equally wide range of salaries.  The average salary is $576 weekly for a props artisan.  Beginning level artisan salaries start in the $385 to $455 a week range. (2007 survey- SPAM) 


    In a prop shop survey taken by SPAM in 2007, the hourly rate for non-salary staff had quite a wide range from $12.00 an hour to $20.80 with the average being just over $15.00 an hour.  Most theatres offer some form of over-time pay or compensated time off for hours worked beyond the forty-hour week.  The trick is finding time off within the contracted season to make up those "comp" hours without impacting the next show build.  All too often overtime hours worked are never compensated equally to the time earned.

    Those shops operating under a Union contract negotiate the pay with the local IASTE representatives and the rate varies from theatre to theatre but generally is within a close range within a city.  Union rates vary widely depending on the city and availability of work.  Union workers are paid an hourly wage and are paid overtime for work over the standard forty-hour work week. Some contracts may set the work-week differently.  Most Union contracts pay at the top end of the hourly range for non-salary staff.


    Larger LORT companies obviously pay better in acknowledgement of the additional administrative responsibilities and the size of the season. Smaller theatres with shorter seasons and many summer theatres pay far less than the average making it a challenge to survive financially without doing side work for other theatres, having a second job outside of theatre in retail or other better paying occupation, or finding ways to supplement income as an independent artist, designer, or craftsperson using the same theatre skills in a different way.


    Benefits are available to many full-time and contracted season staff including health and dental coverage, disability insurance, some form of a retirement plan or investment savings plan, and vacation / sick days. Some companies provide other “benefits” such as a free parking space, use of the shop for personal project work, complimentary tickets to productions, and reimbursement for personal use of your car.

    Finding a properties position is commonly done by word of mouth with people seeking out others who they know and advertising openings through e-mail distributions and web sites. Most large organizations also utilize publications such as Artsearch or online job listing service like  Most theatres also advertise openings on their own web pages under a Staff or Employment Opportunities header.

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Prop Director      Prop Artisan      Prop Skills    

Prop Training     Prop Internships    

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