Performing arts


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

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


What's it all about?

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.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • volunteering
  • applying directly
  • a specialist course run by a private training organisation


You could do a degree in a relevant subject like:

  • contemporary theatre and performance
  • acting
  • music
  • comedy

Qualifications may not be essential if you show enough talent at an audition.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


It may be useful to do a college course in:

  • performing arts
  • musical theatre
  • drama and theatre
  • music

This would help you to develop your talent and learn some of the skills you may need.

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

Volunteering and experience

Some entertainers are self-taught. You could get experience as an entertainer in different ways, including:

  • taking part in open-mic spots or talent competitions
  • working at a holiday centre or theme park
  • performing in local clubs - you may have to work without pay at first
  • taking part in street performance or fringe festivals

Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs. The most important thing is to have a skill or talent that an audience will enjoy.

You do not need formal qualifications, although you may find it useful to have trained in music, dance or acting, perhaps from taking a performing arts course or graded exams.

Other routes

You can develop your skills by doing a specialist course in a particular area of entertaining like comedy, puppetry or circus skills.

Further Information

You'll often have to pass auditions to get work. It may help to find an agent who can market your talents.

You may find it useful to join Equity for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

You can find out more about becoming an entertainer from Creative Choices.


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.


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.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • the ability to work well with others
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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