How does salary work when writing for television? I'm talking about a standard network sitcom or drama like Modern Family or Castle. Is it a traditional salary, or is payment based on work turned in? But most importantly, how much does a staff writer on a Television show make?
According to this article on Gawker, a unionised staff writer will earn a minimum of around $25K per annum (assuming their show isn't instantly cancelled) but substantially more when working on long-term & successful shows.
An approx average for the shows you've mentioned would be somewhere into the low six-figures.
Though show schedules can vary, there are still basic amounts of how many weeks of production you can expect to be paid for. A show that is in production for six weeks (which would be about six episodes, though often rooms start earlier than episodes start shooting), would earn a staff writer—the lowest rung on the writers' room totem pole—a minimum of $25,908. Network shows that go a full season are generally in production for 26 weeks, to produce 22 episodes, so though the weekly staff writer payday dips a bit, a staff writer would still pocket a little over $96,000. At a level higher than staff writer? A full 26-week season for anyone above staff writer pays out just $60 dollars short of $157,000, at minimum. And remember, there are about eight levels between staff writer and show creator…those are some pretty high six-figures, on average.