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Qualifications

Whilst there are no official requirements for qualifications to be an entertainer, there are certain routes which will ensure you have the skills you need to compete in the creative marketplace.

For actors who wish to pursue a career on the stage or screen, there are a number of theatre schools which will allow you to learn your craft as well as gaining qualifications and experience of performing. LAMDA, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, are some of the better known ones, but there are many other schools, colleges and universities around the country. Most of these offer students the opportunity to qualify in a range of different disciplines, from bachelor’s and master’s degrees to diplomas and short courses in specific skills. From amateur dramatics to open auditions, there are many ways to break into acting as a career, but perseverance and a thick skin are qualities that even the biggest stars still need to land the roles they want.

For musicians, there are a number of routes to achieving qualifications which will allow you to progress to a level where you can pursue a career in musical performance. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, or ABRSM, is one of the most popular examinations boards and one which provides certifications to students at music schools around the world. Most people studying a musical instrument will gain some graded qualifications in their chosen instrument, usually during earlier periods of their studies and these include disciplines such as sight reading and aural skills.

For those who wish to continue their musical studies, there are a range of educational establishments which provide qualifications that can be tailored to suit the particular requirements of your field of interest. If you are keen to excel in the field of classical music, then you are more likely to need skills such as reading music and understanding the workings of orchestras which can be learned on music diploma courses at a range of colleges and course providers.

If you choose popular music as your field then song writing and stage performance skills might be more important areas to study. Establishments such as the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance offer students the chance to learn everything they need to know, although many people hone their skills without pursuing any formal qualifications.

For other types of entertainer, including everything from dancing to acrobatics to magic, the main qualification for having a successful career is to be good at what you do. If you can perform on your own, then you will need to master the skills required to put together a good show, whereas if you will be entertaining as part of a group or cast, then you will need to pass auditions in order to get work. Having a go is the best way to work out whether you are good enough to cut it, and most people learn as much through experience as they do through formal training.

Starting Out

For many entertainers, whether they are musicians, actors, dancers or other types of performer, the desire to pursue their chosen profession stems from an interest that they develop whilst still at school. Music lessons, drama classes and the chance to try their hands at a range of different performing arts can spark an enthusiasm which many continue as a hobby alongside a ‘proper job’ but some translate into a career as they get older.

If you are considering pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, then you will probably know that it can take a while before you earn enough money to live on. However, if you manage your finances efficiently and make the most of any opportunities you have to save then you can end up supporting yourself with a rewarding career that you really enjoy.

For many performers, their first shows are for friends and family which is ideal as it gives them a chance to get some practice and experience of performing in front of a sympathetic audience. When moving on to more professional bookings, word of mouth from those people can be a great way to learn about opportunities in your area and get recommendations from people who might be able to help you expand your network.

In the early days, performing for the chance of ‘exposure’ can be a great way to expand your repertoire and help you to hone your skills in front of an audience by ascertaining what works live and what doesn’t. However, it is important not to fall into the trap of undervaluing your skills – many people expect artists to work for free because they think of it as a hobby, but if you want to make a living at it you will have to insist that you are compensated for your time and abilities. If someone thinks that your performance will enhance their event, then they should be prepared to pay for it.

Finding Work as a Self Employed Entertainer

One of the first things most entertainers will want to do to promote themselves is to create a website. This can then be used to showcase their talents and should include video or audio clips, photographs, copies of any favourable reviews and contact details for anyone who wants to get in touch. Links to their social network profiles are also a great way to get more people interested in what you are doing as you can provide them with information about performances local to them, and people often leave feedback on social media as well which can boost your profile.

Many entertainers will find that they build up a lot contacts quite naturally, through performing with other people and adding them to their existing social networks. Through others working in the same field, they may be asked to perform in supporting roles or alongside another entertainer at events they have been booked for or even as last minute stand-ins for other entertainers who are ill or unable to perform.

Others find work themselves proactively by contacting venues, festivals and event organisers to see if they would be interested in booking their act. Some have managers who work on their behalf and depending on the kind of entertainer you wish to be, an agent might be a good way to find work. They will represent your interests, liaise with casting directors, keep up with industry developments and direct you towards opportunities which could make you money. Some agents specialise in representing clients who are just finding their feet in their industry and have contacts in some of the smaller venues around, some specialise in corporate bookings and entertainers who become more successful may wish to engage an agent with a higher profile list of connections.

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