Performing arts

Stunt performer

Stunt performers stand in for actors when the script calls for anything dangerous or specialised to be done on a film or TV set.

Annual Salary

Variable

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

Working hours

Variable

2%
Future employment

There will be 2% more Stunt performer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll use highly-developed physical and sporting skills to make them look natural and part of the action, like:

  • gymnastics or high diving, for performing all types of falls
  • fighting skills, possibly with weapons
  • swimming or diving
  • horse riding
  • advanced driving techniques, for performing car chases and crashes

You’ll set up, plan and perform stunts, usually whilst being supervised by  a stunt coordinator. 

Health and safety is very important as the work can be dangerous. You’d need to carry out a full risk assessment and complete detailed paperwork before you performed each stunt.

You can find more details about minimum daily and weekly rates for stunt performers from Equity, the trade union for professional performers and creative artists.

You'll usually need to apply to British Stunt Register's Stunt Grading Scheme. You'll need qualifications and skills across at least 6 different sporting areas in 4 of the following groups:

  • fighting - martial arts or boxing
  • falling - trampolining or high diving
  • riding and driving - horse riding, driving cars or riding motorcycles
  • agility and strength - gymnastics or rock climbing
  • water - swimming or sub-aqua

The fighting category is compulsory.

You'll also need at least one year's experience in each of your sporting areas. Throughout your career, you'll need to keep your skills and qualifications up to date.

Probationary members are encouraged to attend shoots as observers in order to broaden their knowledge of the profession. You could do this by getting experience as an extra or a 'walk-on'.

There are no official training schemes or schools to train stunt performers, although some private ‘stunt schools’ offer short courses in skills like stage combat, working with fire and stunt driving.

These courses can be useful for building experience, but will not be accepted towards membership of the register.

You'll need to join the British Stunt Register to get access to the Stunt Grading Scheme.

The register is divided into 3 categories of membership:

  • probationary
  • intermediate
  • full

Variable

Most stunt performers are self-employed, and paid a fee for each job.

Equity, the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners, recommends minimum daily and weekly rates for stunt performers.

Variable

Working hours can be irregular and unsocial, depending on filming schedules. Days on set can be very long, although you may spend a lot of that time planning and setting up stunts, and waiting between scenes.

You’ll work in studios or outside locations. Some stunts may need you to spend a long time in uncomfortable conditions.

You’ll wear protective clothing, harnesses or helmets for some stunts.

You could travel to studios and locations all over the UK and abroad, and you may spend long periods away from home.

You’ll usually be self-employed and work on short-term contracts for each production. You may need to do other work to earn a living when you’re not performing.

With experience, you could become a stunt arranger or coordinator.

You can find more details about minimum daily and weekly rates for stunt performers from Equity, the trade union for professional performers and creative artists.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • ability in several sports and outdoor pursuits
  • good communication and 'people' skills
  • quick reactions and calmness under pressure
  • a willingness to work in dangerous situations
  • a high degree of responsibility and health and safety awareness
  • good planning skills and attention to detail
  • some acting skills (although formal experience isn’t essential)
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