Performer: Career Info & Requirements

Performing artists entertain and express through music, dance, and theater. Completing a bachelor's degree in performing arts is not necessary for success as a performer. However, a formal education can enhance a performance artist's skills and provide increased opportunities for performance experience.

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Career Definition for a Performing Artist

Performing artists, including actors, musicians, dancers, and singers, creatively express artistic sentiments through their performances. These artists perform before live audiences or in recorded performances. Performers collaborate closely with others, as even solo performances require coordination with directors, choreographers, costume designers, makeup artists, lighting technicians, and others.

Education Associate's, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts programs available
Job Skills Natural talent, ability to accept criticism, time management
Median Hourly Wage (2017)* $14.25 for dancers, $17.49 for actors, and $26.96 for singers and musicians
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 12% for actors, 6% for singers and musicians, and 5% for dancers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Performing artists generally receive some type of formal training, though it may not necessarily be through a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program. Some community colleges offer associate's degrees in the performing arts to prepare students for entry into a B.A. or B.F.A. program.

Entry into a B.A or B.F.A. degree program in the performing arts usually requires an audition. In addition to rehearsals that focus on improving their performances, performing arts students take courses that teach theater history, theory, and performance techniques, such as voice, movement, makeup, and costuming.

Skills Required

Many performance artists have practiced their crafts since their talents emerged during childhood. Beyond natural talent, the College Board (www.collegeboard.com) recommends that aspiring performers be capable of accepting criticism, managing their time well, and working well with others.

Career and Economic Outlook

Employment for performing artists is often intermittent and unpredictable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that jobs for actors will increase by 12% from 2016 through 2026, while employment for musicians and singers is expected to grow by 6% and that of dancers is expected to increase 5% in the same time frame. Performing arts careers are very competitive. Some performers find more stable employment through teaching their craft to others or work in other fields.

Earnings for the highest paid performers are generally very high, due to their fame and talent. However, the median hourly earnings for performance artists were $14.25 per hour for dancers, $17.49 for actors, and $26.96 for musicians in May 2017, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Check out these other options for careers in the entertainment industry:

Producer and Director

Producers and directors usually have a bachelor's degree, in addition to some work experience related to movies, television, theater, or film editing. Their work includes interpreting writers' scripts and then basing movies, TV shows, or theater productions on them. Faster-than-average employment growth of 12% was projected by the BLS for producers and directors from 2016-2026. Producers and directors earned a median annual salary of $71,620 in 2017, the BLS said.

Announcer

With educations ranging from high school diplomas to bachelor's degrees, announcers may serve as emcees or disc jockeys, in addition to presenting commentary or interviews on news, music, and sports shows. An 9% drop in jobs was anticipated by the BLS for announcers during the 2016-2026 decade. In 2017, these professionals earned an annual median wage of $31,500, according to the BLS.

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