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Circus performer

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Circus performers entertain audiences with displays of skills like acrobatics and clowning.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a high standard of ability in at least one circus art. Your talent and skills are more important than academic qualifications.

You can learn circus skills through:

  • part-time courses
  • community circuses
  • weekend and summer workshops
  • full-time professional courses
  • foundation degree and degree courses

Courses including mime, dance, physical theatre skills or circus skills could be useful.

The following offer relevant courses:

You may be able to find seasonal or casual work as a general assistant with a touring circus company. 

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • physical fitness and stamina
  • good timing and coordination
  • self-discipline and motivation

3. What you'll do

Your could perform:

  • solo or as part of a group
  • one circus art, or base your act around several different skills
  • with a traditional or modern circus company
  • in street theatre, at festivals, or at parties and corporate events
  • in theatre, opera and feature films

Performing is only one part of the work. Your other day-to-day tasks will include:

  • keeping fit
  • rehearsing
  • developing new acts
  • maintaining equipment you use in your act
  • travelling (if you’re with a touring company)

4. Salary

Your income may vary widely as work is often part-time or temporary.

Part-time or occasional circus performers may earn between £150 and £900 a show. The Independent Theatre Council and Equity recommended minimum rates of £447.50 a week.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours may be long and irregular. Most performances are in the evenings and at weekends. Part-time and seasonal work is common.

You could perform indoors or outdoors and the work is physically demanding. You may spend long periods away from home when touring.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could improve your skills and create new acts or form your own circus company. 

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Last updated: 11 September 2018