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Stage manager

Stage managers makes sure the sets, equipment and props are ready for the opening of a performance.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £45,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but you’ll usually need a diploma, foundation degree, or degree in a relevant subject.

Relevant subjects include: 

  • stage management
  • performing arts
  • theatre practice
  • technical theatre
  • theatre studies 
You'll normally also need experience of stage work, like as a stagehand. You can get relevant experience from student, amateur or community theatre, or as a casual stagehand in local theatre.

You could also move into stage management after training as an actor, or by working your way up through backstage work. 

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Creative Choices has more information on working as a stage manager.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent planning, organisational and leadership skills
  • confidence and decision making ability
  • the ability to multi-task and 'think on your feet'
  • calmness under pressure
  • a high level of attention to detail
  • good IT and budget management skills

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • making sure crew and performers are in the right place at the right time
  • organising rehearsals
  • working with staff to plan wardrobe, set design, scene changes, sound and lighting
  • managing props and set dressing
  • keeping the ‘prompt copy’ of the script, which notes what’s happening in each scene
  • liaising with theatre managers and front-of-house staff
  • supervising the 'get in' and ‘get out’ – the times when sets and equipment are set up and taken down
  • giving cues for the performers to go on stage
  • cuing sound and lighting effects 

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: £45,000 or more (senior roles)

Minimum rates for stage managers are set by Equity.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Hours can be long and unsocial. Meetings and rehearsals usually take place during the day, but performances are mainly in the evenings and at weekends. You'll often be the last to leave the venue late at night.

You might be permanently based at one venue, or you might travel to different venues when on tour. A driving licence may be needed for some jobs.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could manage a theatre company, become a theatre producer, or move into TV production.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016