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Licensing Execs Report Greater Hours, Higher Pay

Licensing professionals are experienced, satisfied, and putting in the hours, according to The Licensing Letter’s 2017 Salary Survey. Among the findings:

  • Over half of respondents (55%) have been involved in licensing for 10 years or more, with another 31% having been in the business for five to ten years.
  • Compared to last year’s Survey, when over 55% of respondents had been in their current position for five years or more, just 38% reported the same. Most (41%) have been in their current position from one to five years.
  • Licensing professionals work an average of 51.6 hours a week, up from 48 hours a week. Around 17% work over 60 hour weeks, also up from 14% in 2015.

The titles with the greatest amount of responses are director (31%), manager (20%), VP (16%), and coordinator (11%). These are the only job titles for which the number of responses is sufficient to generate salary and bonus data. The number of international respondents was also insufficient to generate 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., $80,000–240,000 for VPs and $30,000–130,000 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.

Average salary has gone up since last year’s Survey, with the total average salary up 10% from 2015 to 2016. The range of salaries we see has bumped up from $10,000–450,000 in 2015 to $22,000–500,000 in 2016. The average VP’s salary has gone up 23%, while the average manager saw a 12% bump. On the other hand, the director’s and coordinator’s salary have remained stable, with 0% and 3% growth, respectively.

While the average bonus has gone up overall, growth was largely concentrated for VPs and has actually gone down for the other titles we track.

U.S. Licensing Business Salaries, Bonus and Hours for Selected Titles, 2016
*Among those who received bonuses; some respondents specified that they were not paid bonuses.
†Total average calculated across all titles.
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
Title Salary Bonus* Range in Salary
VP $188,000 $37,500 $80,000–240,000
Director $102,000 $8,500 $50,000–145,000
Manager $76,000 $4,600 $30,000–130,000
Coordinator $40,000 $850 $18,000–50,000
Total Average† $121,000 $40,000 $22,000–500,000

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.

Raise & Bonus

Over half of respondents (59%) reported that they had received a raise within the last year. Of all those who had received a raise, it was small—an equal number (30%) indicated that their raise was 1–2% or 3–5%. Surprisingly, 35% of respondents got a bump of 10% or more in their paycheck. Most raises (79%) were not connected to a change in title.

Almost 70% of respondents indicate that they expect to receive a bonus within the next 12 months. Of those that expect to get a raise, 47% believe that it will be in the 1–2% range, 27% that it will be anywhere from 3–5%, and another 27% that it will be 10% or higher.

The most important factors in calculating bonus are company performance, followed in roughly equal importance by new business generated, licensed sales, and overall personal performance. A minority indicated that they receive a redetermined bonus not related to performance.

Other Forms of Compensation

For the first time, TLL asked respondents to indicate their satisfaction level with “soft” benefit schemes. A majority (64%) indicated that they are satisfied or very satisfied, with some noting that their benefits had increased from the year before.

Of the companies that do offer benefits, the most common are shorter or more flexible working hours (including flexibility to work from home, vacation policies, paid time off, and extra days off), company lunches, or health insurance. Other soft benefits include equity, 401K plans, commissions, and travel.

Those were were not satisfied (36%) cited no or minimal benefits as their reason. Most indicated that their company did not offer benefits in lieu of raises.


On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not satisfied and 10 extremely, 52% of respondents rate their job satisfaction at 7 or higher (down from 66% in 2016).

Those who indicated that there satisfaction was neutral (5) or lower totaled 41% of respondents (up from 22%). The most common concerns among those who indicated low satisfaction with their work were limited advancement opportunities, a perception that salary and bonus is not in line with industry standards, and a lack of or minimal benefits.


Sixty-one percent of respondents state that their primary responsibility is licensing, followed by business development (12%), marketing (9%), and sales (9%; multiple responses allowed).

Most respondents (62%) work at smaller outfits with 1–5 people involved in licensing, followed by those who work with 6–20 other licensing professionals (21%) and 101 or more (12%).

The head count of people directly involved at companies has remained the same since last year for most respondents (62%), although 32% indicate that the number has grown. Of those who report growth, that growth has been around 30% of the current work force.

Sixty percent of licensing executives are women. We noted last year that all is well for gender parity in licensing, and the trend continues this year. Men and women work the same (long) hours and draw the same (higher) salary, after adjusting for title.

Most respondents to this year’s Survey hold a Bachelor’s degree (59%), with 31% holding a master’s degree (MBA or other) as their highest level of academic achievement.

Respondents are based primarily in the West Coast (28%), followed by the Mid-Atlantic (21%) and Midwest (21%).

About TLL’s 2017 Salary Survey

Respondents to TLL’s 2017 Salary Survey were evenly distributed among licensors, licensees, agents and consultants, with a smaller percentage of respondents making up the last cohort. The Survey was conducted in early-to-mid 2017 and responses are for 2016.

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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