Performing arts

Stagehand

Stagehands help to get things ready on set for performances in the theatre, at concerts and in TV and film studios.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £20,000

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

Working hours

Variable

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • loading and unloading equipment
  • helping carpenters build and put up scenery
  • attending rehearsals
  • moving scenery, furniture and heavy equipment 
  • opening and closing theatre curtains between acts
  • operating manual and automated scenery-moving machinery
  • clearing the stage or studio and backstage area at the end of the performance

University

You can do a foundation degree or degree in a subject like:

  • stage and production management
  • sound engineering and production
  • theatre and production arts

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

College

You can take a college course, for example:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Technical Theatre Support
  • Level 3 Diploma in Production Arts

The skills you'll learn on these courses could help when you look for a trainee job with a stage or production company.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a creative technician or technical theatre advanced apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other Routes

There are no set requirements. Backstage experience from school, college, amateur or fringe productions will be helpful. It’ll also help if you have skills and experience in carpentry, electrical work, sound or lighting.

You could start in a theatre or venue as a member of casual backstage staff.

£15,000 to £20,000

Starter salary: £15,000

Experienced salary: £20,000

Many stagehands work on a freelance or casual basis. Pay rates can vary, with some based on industry agreements. You could negotiate your rate based on the type of production and your own experience and skills.

These figures are a guide.

Variable

Your hours will vary according to the needs of the show. Most theatre performances take place in the evening, but you’ll also work in the afternoons during rehearsals or matinee shows. In film and TV most of the technical work is during the day.

You might work in one venue, or travel to different venues when on tour.

You’ll sometimes need to work at height.

Creative Choices has more information about careers in the theatre and the performing arts.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • good physical fitness and stamina
  • good practical skills
  • the ability to work under pressure
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