Show runners work for the major television and cable networks; digital streaming providers such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon; and small production companies.
This is not an entry-level position. Many show runners worked their way up to this position by starting out in entry-level writer’s assistant positions in the writer’s room, and then gradually being promoted (staff writer, story editor, head writer) to higher-level positions that lead to a job as a producer (co-producer, producer, supervising producer, co-executive producer, and executive producer) and then a show runner position. Others break into the field after working outside the writer’s room as production assistants, directors, or in other positions. Some show runners break into the field after working as executive producers, directors, and screenwriters in the motion picture industry.
Those who are interested in becoming show runners should approach production companies about employment opportunities as a production assistant or writer’s assistant. Job leads can also be obtained by contacts made through internships and one’s college professors. This is a “clubby” industry, so getting an entry-level job often comes down to whom you know.
There are few advancement opportunities for show runners because they are at the top of the creative world. With that said, a show runner can advance his or her career by receiving higher pay from employers and working on more prestigious projects. Some show runners choose to become executives with television or cable networks.
Tips for Entry
Try to land a job as a production assistant at a television production company to break into the industry.
Visit https://www.entertainmentcareers.net/jobs/s/Showrunner for job listings.
Read The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com) to stay abreast of industry news.
If you have experience as a producer, apply for membership in the Producers Guild of America. Members receive access to job shadowing and mentorship opportunities, receive a complimentary subscription to its quarterly publication Produced By, and can attend its annual Produced By Conference (http://producedbyconference.com) to network and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Develop your writing skills by taking classes and writing scripts. Practice writing scripts and submit spec scripts to networks and production companies. A spec script is an unsolicited screenplay that a screenwriter creates to show his or her skills in the hopes that it will be optioned and eventually developed. It can be an episode of an existing series or an entirely new idea for a show.