How to Become a Professional Entertainer: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a professional entertainer. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in professional entertainment.

Should I Become a Professional Entertainer?

Becoming a professional entertainer starts with building a particular set of talents, such as acting, singing, telling jokes, playing a sport or performing magic tricks. You'll spend long hours training and practicing your skills. You could receive training through an academic program, or your skills might be self-taught. In most cases, you don't need a formal education to become a professional entertainer. You'll do most of your learning through experience, you might need to be willing to perform anywhere to build your fame, and you're likely to receive multiple rejections before becoming successful.

Career Requirements

Education Level No degree required, although some aspiring entertainers may wish to enroll in postsecondary courses or training programs that relate to their area(s) of skill
Experience Most entertainers gain experience through continuous on-the-job training, rehearsals and practices that last throughout their careers
Key Skills Talent, discipline, physical stamina, dedication, good people skills, creativity
Salary (2014) $16.90 (Median hourly wage for entertainers and performers, sports and related workers)

Step 1: Choose a Specialty

Professional entertainers come in many shapes and sizes, commonly including musicians, athletes, actors, circus performers, magicians and comedians. Becoming a professional usually involves choosing a particular specialty. Choosing this specialty determines where an individual's talent lies while evaluating their potential. Learning and developing skills in more than one area, such as music combined with dance, could enhance employment opportunities and overall success as an entertainer.

Step 2: Get Training

Entertainers possess a particular talent or skill that they nurture over time through different types of training. Many athletes improve their skills by joining sports teams and practicing frequently. Some individuals can develop their skills through reading books. For example, there are many books that teach readers how to perform magic tricks.

Entertainers could also improve their skills through formal classroom lessons. Musicians may learn the basics of music composition and performance through a band or choir class. Actors might take courses in drama to learn how to accurately portray a character onstage. Actors and musicians can participate in plays and musical productions through a college program to receive practical training and become comfortable in front of an audience. Several colleges offer performing arts degree programs, while students can also often receive private lessons from instructors or affiliated professionals.

Step 3: Create an Act

Athletes usually play a sport on a predetermined schedule, but other performers must create an act that will impress audiences. Musicians could learn song writing, and aspiring actors might try writing screenplays or scenes to perform. Creating a successful act involves ingenuity and understanding one's audience. For example, magicians and jugglers often mix comedy into their shows to amuse a larger audience demographic.

Step 4: Start Performing

Entertainers need to develop and expand their fan base in order to reach professional status. This can involve self-promotion and marketing, but entertainers also rely on performing as much as possible. Athletes could play on multiple teams in an effort to attract several agents who might connect them to a major league team. Musicians, actors and comedians also perform wherever they can to attract fans, including community theater productions, open mic nights and hotel lobbies.

Step 5: Find Representation

Most professional entertainers start off marketing themselves; however, they might reach a wider audience by hiring agents or managers. Agents and managers often have extensive business skills and industry connections to help entertainers connect with production companies, sports organizations or concert venues. They help their clients by setting up performances, negotiating contracts, scheduling appearances and managing an entertainer's professional itinerary.

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools