Circus performer

Circus performers entertain audiences with displays of skills like acrobatics and clowning.

Average salary (a year)

Variable

Typical hours (a week)

45 to 47 irregular

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays flexibly

How to become a circus performer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

University

You can get a foundation degree or degree in circus arts through:

You can apply directly to the National Centre for Circus Arts. You'll be expected to attend an audition before being offered a place.

Circomedia courses are accredited by Bath Spa University and you'll apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You can also study a master's in Directing Circus.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • GCSE English at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C)
  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

College

You could do a college course like:

  • Level 2 or 3 in Performing Arts
  • Level 3 in Performing and Production Arts (Circus)
  • Level 3 Diploma in Circus Skills

These would teach you some of the skills needed for the job. Then you can try to find a trainee job with a circus company.

Studying towards a course can be useful especially if they include mime, dance, physical theatre skills or circus skills.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Work

You may be able to find seasonal or casual work as a general assistant with a touring circus company. Once working, you'll need to show you have the ability and circus skills to become part of their company.

Direct application

You can apply directly to employers if you have a high standard of ability in at least one circus art. Your talent and skills are more important than academic qualifications.

You may have an advantage if you already have gymnastics and dance skills.

Other routes

There are organisations who offer various circus arts activities and training.

Training may be part-time community circus courses or weekend and summer workshops.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You may find it useful to join organisations like the Circus Development Network for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a circus performer from Creative Choices.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • the ability to work well with others
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • performing one circus act, or basing your act around several different skills
  • rehearsing
  • developing new acts
  • keeping fit
  • maintaining equipment you use in your act
  • travelling, if you're with a touring company

Working environment

You could work at a tv studio, at a film studio, in a theatre or on a film set.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time, travelling often and spending nights away from home and physically demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience you could improve your skills and create new acts or form your own circus company. 

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a circus performer right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Performing Arts BTEC Subsidiary in Performing Arts Level 3

  • Provider: Herne Bay High School
  • Start date: 09 September 2019
  • Location: HERNE BAY

BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Performing Arts Academy)

  • Provider: Brompton Academy
  • Start date: 03 September 2019
  • Location:

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