Performer Job Description
Performers entertain others through various arts, such as music, dance, stage entertainment, and theater. They are artists who express their talents through recordings or in front of live audiences. Great performers stir emotion and excitement within their audiences, handle constructive criticism well, and have excellent interpersonal skills. They collaborate with a variety of professionals, such as directors, choreographers, stage managers, costume designers, producers, and lighting technicians.
Performance work can be seasonal, project based, or full time. Performers must be willing to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends. Many performers go through periods of employment and unemployment. The most well-known performers use their talent to command salaries, though fame is far from the norm.
Performer Duties and Responsibilities
While a performer’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Engage in Public Performances
Performers entertain audiences through recorded or live shows, presentations, and exhibitions. They can be found working in diverse settings such as theaters, resorts, nightclubs, television commercials, or film and music video sets. They play characters with special personality traits and stories.
Participate in Rehearsals
Professional performers rehearse thoroughly to make their performances the best they can be. These rehearsals go by different names, such as recitals, dry runs, practices, and run-throughs. Performers practice every detail of their presentation to make sure the audience gets an optimal experience.
Maintain a Positive Guest Experience
Performers, especially those who work full time for entertainment companies, must ensure a quality guest experience. They play an assigned role in each performance at a consistent standard. Many performers are directly responsible for interacting with guests prior to, during, and after performances. They make it their mission to give patrons an enjoyable experience.
Care for Props and Costumes
Ensuring that all costumes are properly maintained is another responsibility of performers. All props and equipment used must be handled with care. Performers are also responsible for seeing that their equipment is correctly stored after each show.
Collaborate with Other Artists
To create memorable shows, many entertainers work with fellow performers. They collaborate to create content, outline choreography, and produce joint performances. Some performers work in an improvisational way, feeding off the energy of other performers to create unique experiences.
Performer Skills and Qualifications
Performers have positive, hard-working attitudes and a desire to interact with audiences through performance. Employers typically seek candidates with superior skills and talent appropriate for their specific industry and role. The following abilities are essential to getting the job done:
- Public performance – interacting with crowds through public expression is an essential skill for performers
- Interpersonal skills – collaborating closely with others is a constant requirement for performers, who need a variety of staff and colleagues to bring presentations to life
- Acting – performers often play characters to share stories and connect with audiences emotionally
- Dancing – many performers use movement to display stories and ideas
- Public speaking – performing speeches, songs, and routines clearly in front of audiences is an essential skill for performers
- Choreography – some performers direct and design physical movement routines to enhance audience experiences
- Problem-solving skills – performers must think fast on their feet and improvise when technical glitches happen during their shows
Performer Education and Training
A degree is not necessary to succeed as a performer. However, some do obtain formal education in the form of a Bachelor of Fine Arts to enhance their skills and improve job opportunities. They may take courses that teach theater, history, performance, voice, and dance. Some full-time jobs, such as those at theme parks, offer comprehensive training with no experience required. Talent and skill are what make performers most attractive to potential employers.
Performer Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage of performers is $17.09. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $9.39 per hour. However, the highest 10 percent of earners make more than $42.43 per hour. The salaries of the most famous and highest-payed performers are extremely high due to fame and talent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that acting jobs will increase 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations. On the other hand, musicians and singers have a projected employment growth rate of 6 percent through 2026.
We searched the web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a performer. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect, and engage:
Association of Performing Arts Professionals – APAP is a national organization for performers that offers year-round professional development, networking opportunities, and potential funding
International Society for the Performing Arts – ISPA is a global network of 500 leading performing arts organizations supporting artists and other performance professionals
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers – get professional tools and tactics from 200 world-class performers in various fields. This book is full of actionable tips designed to help you in your career
The Playbook: Improv Games for Performers – this book features over 370 improvisation games to help you build your skills as a performer. You’ll also find useful tips and resources on improvisation
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi posits that performers must operate in a “flow state” where they are deeply connected to their work in the moment. This book offers tools that will help you consistently reach peak performance
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