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Licensing Execs Are Satisfied, Gunning for the Long Haul

By Karina Masolova

Licensing professionals are seasoned lot, happy with their jobs and prepared to put in the hours, according to The Licensing Letter’s 2016 Salary Survey. Among the findings:

  • Over half of respondents (54%) have been involved in the licensing business for 10 years or more and another 19% for five to ten years. And this staying power extends to the job itself—55% have been in their current position for five years or more.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not satisfied and 10 extremely, 66% of respondents rate their job satisfaction at 7 or higher. Of those who indicate low job satisfaction (22% rate satisfaction at 5 or lower) the most common refrain is the perception that salary is not in line with industry standards, lack of benefits and limited advancement opportunities. Part and parcel of such frustrations is an awareness of economic and organizational limitations.
  • Licensing professionals put in an average of 48 hours at work, with 14% dedicating 60 or more hours a week to their craft.
The titles with the greatest amount of responses are director (32%), manager (20%), VP (13%), coordinator (8%) and SVP (6%). These are the only job titles for which the number of responses is sufficient to generate salary and bonus data. Even limited to these categories however, titles are not used consistently in licensing. For example, a director in a very large company could be equivalent to a VP at a smaller one (and size isn’t the only differentiator). Unlike in other industries, titles don’t always correlate with responsibilities. The range of responses in compensation is one indicator—e.g. $74,000–230,000 for VPs and $25,000–140,000 for managers. In the case of managers, the low end of that range would likely be a coordinator or assistant at some companies, yet a junior director at others.

Licensing Business Salaries, Bonus and Hours for Selected Titles, 2015
Notes: *Among those who received bonuses; a minority of respondents specified that they were not paid bonuses.
†Total average calculated across all titles.
Title Salary Bonus* Range in Salary Hours Worked a Week
SVP $257,000 $38,000 $95,000–552,000 51
VP $153,000 $20,000 $74,000–230,000 53
Director $102,000 $12,000 $45,000–174,000 49
Manager $68,000 $9,000 $25,000–140,000 46
Coordinator $39,000 $1,500 $18,000–60,000 42
Total Average† $110,000 $21,000 $10,000–450,000 48

Other than the salary and bonus questions, specifically, there was little difference in the response of these and other titles, and so, other than salary and bonus, responses in this analysis are across all titles.


Among U.S. respondents, 31% of licensing executives are located on in the mid-Atlantic and 28% on the West Coast. The Midwest accounts for 12% while a smaller percentage call the Southeast (9%) and New England (6%) home.

Overall, 27% work outside of the U.S. Although every region of the world was well represented, most international respondents are based in Europe (62%).


While 66% of respondents indicated that their primary function is licensing, 14% also have a hand in business development and 9% in product development. Rounding out job responsibilities are marketing (5%), finance (2%), sales (1%) and public relations (1%).


More than half (56%) of respondents hold a bachelor’s degree, 18% have MBAs and 13% have other master’s degrees.

Executives who work as licensors, licensees and agents have similar educational backgrounds (roughly 60% hold a bachelor’s and 30% a master’s degree). Consultants are the most educated cohort, with 67% holding a master’s degree. 17% of consultants hold a JD versus an average of 5% for all other licensing executives.

A higher percentage of men hold JDs than women (13% of men vs. 2% women), but otherwise educational level is equal across the board.


Most (67%) respondents expect to receive a bonus in the next 12 months. Company performance is cited as the most important factor in receiving a bonus (74%), followed by overall personal performance (46%), new business and royalties generated (40% each), sales of licensed lines (28%) and other predetermined factors (17%—multiple responses permitted).

Size of Licensing Operation

Sixty-two percent of companies responding have one to five full-time or full-time equivalent employees directly involved in licensing; 22% have six to 20. Half (49%) say that the number of employees involved in licensing at their company or division is the same as it was a year ago; 31% say the head count is higher and 20% lower.

Other Forms of Compensation

Although companies were quick to embrace alternate forms of compensation after the recession to make up for the lack of raises or bonuses, today that trend has gone to the wayside.

Of the small number of companies that do offer benefits, the most common are flexible working hours (including flexibility to work from home, generous vacation policies, paid time off and extra days off), equity, 401K plans, commissions, free lunches and travel.


According to respondents, all is well for gender parity in licensing. Men and women work the same hours and draw the same salary, after adjusting for title.

Although 60% of respondents are women, they occupy a smaller share of the top titles. While 16% of women hold titles of VP and higher, 51% of male respondents claim the same. Two-fifths of female respondents are a director (43%), versus 18% of men holding the same title. And they aren’t lacking in seniority (roughly half of each gender have been involved in licensing for 10 years or more).

A higher percentage of men hold JDs than women (13% of men vs. 2% women), but otherwise educational level is equal across the board.

About TLL’s 2016 Salary Survey

Respondents to TLL’s 2016 Salary Survey were evenly distributed amongst licensors, licensees, agents and consultants, with a smaller percentage of respondents making up the last cohort. The Survey was conducted in early 2016 and responses are for 2015.

As a group, the licensors and agents responding work with every property type TLL tracks, but there is a slightly larger involvement in entertainment/character- and trademark-based brands whose activity takes up a larger share of the licensing industry. In the same vein, manufacturers are slightly more involved in the product categories of apparel, gifts/novelties, accessories and toys/games.

The titles tracked in this survey are owner/partner, president, CEO, EVP, SVP, VP, general manager, director, manager, account executive, coordinator and assistant.


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