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Entertainers perform for audiences in stage, cabaret or comedy shows.

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

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a skill or talent audiences will appreciate.

You don't need formal qualifications, but you may find it useful to have trained in music, dance or acting.

You could get paid or unpaid experience in various ways, like:

  • taking part in open-mic spots or talent competitions
  • working at a holiday centre or theme park
  • performing in local clubs
  • taking part in street performance or fringe festivals

You’ll often have to pass auditions to get work. 

It may help to find an agent who can market your talents.

You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

2. Skills required

You’ll need to be:

  • talented in your chosen performance area
  • friendly, outgoing and confident
  • able to adapt your act to suit your audience
  • energetic and determined to succeed
  • able to accept direction and criticism

3. What you'll do

You’ll work in places like theatres, holiday centres, hotels, cruise ships, community centres and clubs. You may also work at festivals, or in private homes (especially if you’re a children's entertainer). 

Your performance may include:

  • singing
  • stand-up comedy
  • playing music
  • tribute acts
  • magic
  • children’s entertainment
  • mime

You may specialise in one skill, or combine several to create an act. You could perform solo or as part of a group.

When not performing, you’ll also spend time:

  • finding and rehearsing new material for your act
  • attending auditions
  • looking after costumes or equipment
  • dealing with your finances and administration
  • promoting your act

If you work on a cruise ship or at a holiday centre, you may have extra duties like organising children's activities and looking after holidaymakers.

You might also combine performing with other types of work like teaching or running workshops for children or adults.

4. Salary

The amount you earn will depend on what you can charge and how many bookings you get. You could earn £7 to £47 an hour, or £60 to £200 a performance. 

Touring theatre actors may earn up to £650 a week.

Equity and the Independent Theatre Council have information on rates of pay for performers and other professionals.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours could be irregular and unsocial. Most performances take place in the evenings and at weekends, but you might also have daytime shows, rehearsals and auditions.

You could perform full-time or part-time, do one-off performances, or regular weekly or monthly slots. 

Sometimes you might be booked for a whole season, like appearing in a musical or at a holiday centre.

Work can be indoors or on the street, in circus tents, or on outdoor stages. 

You might spend a lot of time travelling with long periods away from home. 

For some jobs you’ll need your own transport and a driving licence.

6. Career path and progression

You could move into related roles like entertainment agent, talent spotter, venue management, or TV or radio presenting.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018