I’ve talked before about PA rate in a blog post appropriately titled… “PA Rate.” Everything there still applies, but I wanted to talk for a moment about negotiating for a higher rate.
On every PA interview I’ve been on, the coordinator will ask either “What’s your rate?” or “What did they pay you on your last show?”. For my first few shows, I was a sucker, and I answered truthfully. On my first show, I told them that it was my first real show, and they paid me $125/day. I’d say that’s pretty fair for how much I knew and how much work I was doing.
On my second show, I told them that I had made $125/day, so they turned around and paid me… $125/day. An interview for my third show went as follows:
Coordinator: What did [a coordinator whom we’ve both worked for] pay you on your last show?
Me: One-hundred-twenty-five dollars a day. What’s the rate here?
Coordinator: I think that’s about right. That’s what we’re paying PAs.
But aha! I learned my lesson. No matter what rate I had told him, he would have answered with the same response. “That’s about right.” So on my next interview after that, I upped my rate. A WHOPPING $5/DAY!
The moral of the story is that you should set your rate, instead of your last boss setting it for you. Ask for what you think you’re worth. The worst that can happen is that they say “no.” (This has happened to me. I’ve priced myself out of a job. It’s soul-wrenching, but you’re only as good as your rate, so it doesn’t do you any good to low-ball yourself.)
…Says the guy who’s currently unemployed.