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Average Pay for Licensing Execs Down by $9K

Licensing professionals are experienced, happy with their jobs, and prepared to put in the hours, according to The Licensing Letter’s 2018 Salary Survey. We will have this year’s TLL’s 2018 Compensation Report, which features more in-depth breakdowns, available at Licensing Expo next month—contact Jen for more information.

Over half of respondents (61%) have been involved in the licensing business for 10 years or more and another 26% for five to 10 years. Almost half of executives (45%) have been in their current role for five years or more. But 25% have only been in their current position for 1–2 years, with most of them (13% of the total) having worked in licensing for over 10 years.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not satisfied and 10 extremely, a whopping 71% of respondents rated their job satisfaction at 7 or higher—the highest rate TLL has recorded in recent years. Of those who indicate low job satisfaction (just 8% rate satisfaction at 5 or lower) the most common refrain is the perception that salary is not in line with industry standards, a lack of benefits, and limited advancement opportunities. These concerns are still very tangible, however.

Licensing professionals put in an average of 46 hours at work in a normal week, with 11% dedicating 60 or more hours a week to their craft. For the first time, we also asked respondents about how many hours they typically work in a “busy period”—and just over half answered, citing an average of 54 hours a week, or 8 more hours. Forty-two percent of this group work 60 or more hours a week in “busy” times. As it turns out, this work is largely unpaid with a whopping 95% of respondents clocking overtime hours not compensated beyond their annual salary and bonus.

The titles with the greatest amount of responses were director (24%), manager (20%), coordinator (12%), VP (11%), owner/partner (7%), SVP (5%), and president (4%). These are the only job titles for which the number of responses is sufficient to generate salary and bonus data. Over 70% of responses were from the U.S., with 24% from Western Europe. Response data from other territories, such as South East Asia and the Middle East, was insufficient to generate salary trends.

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., $12,000–275,000 for Owners/Partners and $10,000–150,000 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. The extreme range seen with owners and partners is largely a function of respondent makeup—most run smaller shops, draw lower salaries, and pay out large bonuses when business is good (several respondents indicated that they gave themselves a bonus of $1 million or more in 2017). On the other hand, presidents (who, as seen below, appear to have more generous compensation) tended to hail from larger companies.

Average salary has gone down since last year’s Survey, with the total average salary down 7% from 2016 to 2017. The range of salaries we see has stretched out, however, from $22,000–500,000 in 2016 to $8,000–600,000 in 2017. Compared to 2015 calculations, most job titles have enjoyed steady growth (2% growth in salary overall), with most growth focused on VPs (18%) and some declines in the salaries of SVPs (-11%).

Licensing Business Annual Salary and Bonus for Selected Titles, Worldwide, 2017
Notes: *Among those who received bonuses; some respondents specified that they were not paid bonuses. †Total average calculated across all titles.
TitleSalaryBonus*Range in Salary
Total Average†$112,000$60,000$8,000–600,000

Raise & Bonus

Only 46% of respondents reported that they had received a raise within the last year, down from 59% last year. Just under 20% indicated that they had never received a raise. Of those who did receive one, however, the average raise was 5.8% with approximately 20% receiving a bump of 10% or more. Only 13% of raises in the last year were connected with a change in job title.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicate that they expect to receive a bonus within the next 12 months.

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

A majority of respondents (68%) indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their soft compensation schemes in 2017, with most noting that their benefits had not changed from the year before. Approximately 13% expressed “mixed” sentiment towards benefits packages, citing satisfaction with paid time off but frustration with medical (including higher deductibles, less paternity time, or less coverage). Those were were not satisfied (20%) cited no, poor, or minimal benefits as their reason.

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

Every respondent outside the U.S. reported satisfaction with their soft compensation schemes, boosting satisfaction levels overall. Excluding international respondents, 48% cited mixed or negative feelings about their soft benefits.


Sixty-two percent of respondents state that their primary responsibility is licensing, followed by business development (11%), sales and marketing (8% each), and product development (6%; multiple responses allowed). Roughly 5% cited other functions, such as human resources and other administrative tasks.

Most respondents (60%) work at smaller outfits with 1–5 people involved in licensing, followed by those who work with 6–20 other licensing professionals (20%) and 101 or more (7%). Of companies with part-time employees, most count 1–5 such employees (86%) followed by 6–20 (12%) and 101 or more (2%).

The head count of people directly involved at companies has remained the same since last year for most respondents (63%), with a quarter (25%) indicating that the number has grown. Of those who reported growth, the number of employees grew by roughly 50% with most new additions being full-time workers.

Respondents were evenly split by gender, with 55% identifying as female and 45% as male. For the first time, TLL also asked about age and ethnicity/race—approximately 30% are aged 45–53 years-old and over 80% are white.

Respondents are also well-educated: Most hold a Bachelor’s degree (56%) and 27% have a master’s degree (MBA or other) as their highest level of academic achievement.

About The Licensing Letter’s 2018 Salary Survey

Respondents to TLL’s 2018 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 2018 and responses are for 2017.

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

The titles tracked in this survey are owner/partner, president, CEO, EVP, SVP, AVP, VP, general manager, director, head licensing, manager, specialist, coordinator, and assistant.


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