Working in performing arts

The performing arts industry includes jobs in theatre, dance, music and opera.

You could work as an actor, comedian, musician, dancer or singer. Performance jobs are not just in the theatre or on TV. Look out for performers at festivals, in education, on cruise ships and at theme parks. There are jobs behind the scenes too, such as sound technician, props manager or hair and make-up artist. Other people find work with the public in administration, box office and promotions. It is a very competitive industry. Be prepared to start at the bottom and work hard.

 

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Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

The artistic director or chief executive of well-known opera houses or theatres may earn more than the salaries shown, but this is unusual!

Many jobs in the industry are paid at a day or week rate, or just for the length of a contract. Lots of people in performing arts have additional jobs to help them afford to pay their bills.

Pay levels graph

Future careers

  • The performing arts industry is still growing, while many other industries are shrinking.
  • Circus skills are in demand. You could use skills in juggling, acrobatics, BMX and breakdancing.
  • Behind the scenes, skilled technicians are in short supply. You could specialise in electrical work, joinery, lighting or sound.

Things to consider

  • Most theatre performances take place in the evenings, but there are also daytime shows, rehearsals and auditions.
  • Full-time, permanent work is hard to find. Many performers work on short contracts and do not get paid when they are not working.
  • You will need to look for temporary additional work to support you when you are not performing.
  • Any additional work you do needs to be flexible, so you can take time off if auditions or acting roles come up.
  • Hours may be irregular.

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