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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. View article »

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  • 0:00 Becoming a…
  • 1:20 Step 1: Choose Specialty
  • 1:54 Step 2: Get Training
  • 2:56 Step 3: Create an Act
  • 3:28 Step 4: Start Performing
  • 4:03 Step 5: Find Representation

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Video Transcript

Becoming 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. While no degree is required, some aspiring entertainers may wish to enroll in post-secondary courses or training programs that relate to their area of skill. Most professional entertainers gain experience through continuous on-the-job training, rehearsals, and practices that last throughout their careers. While 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.

Key skills for professional entertainers include talent, discipline, physical stamina, dedication, good people skills, and creativity. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median hourly wage for entertainers and performers was $17.64.

Step 1: Choose Specialty

The first step towards becoming a professional entertainer is to choose a specialty. Professional entertainers come in many shapes and sizes, commonly including musicians, athletes, actors, circus performers, magicians and comedians. Choosing a particular 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

The second step towards becoming a professional entertainer is to get training. Entertainers possess a particular talent or skill 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.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Dance
  • Design and Applied Arts
  • Drama and Theatre Arts
  • Fine Arts and Studio Art
  • Musical Arts
  • Photography, Film, and Video

Step 3: Create an Act

The third step towards becoming a professional entertainer is to 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

The fourth step towards becoming a professional entertainer is to 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

The fifth step towards becoming a professional entertainer is to 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.

The steps towards becoming a professional entertainer include choosing a specialty, getting training, creating an act, starting to perform, and finding representation.

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