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Entertainer or variety artist

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Summary of occupation

Entertainers perform live for audiences in a range of artistic and creative works, including theatre, dance, comedy, circus and music. They write and rehearse routines, develop characters, performance styles or other talents, create costumes and props to accompany their act, and perform the act live. Some entertainers may perform illusions or tricks, operate puppets, or tell jokes and perform humorous skits. They may perform their act either for large paying audiences in entertainment venues, or for small private audiences such as children's parties or other such celebrations.

ANZSCO description: Entertains by performing a variety of acts using a mix of acting, singing, dance and movement skills. This occupation requires high levels of creative talent or personal commitment and interest as well as, or in place of, formal qualifications or experience.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Busker, Children's Entertainer, Circus Artist, Clown, Comedian, Magician/Illusionist, Puppeteer, Stand-up Comedian, Ventriloquist
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An entertainer needs:

  • a desire to entertain people
  • strong communication skills
  • talent and ability in one or more creative pursuits
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • good concentration and memory
  • confidence and determination.
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Working conditions

Entertainers work in a variety of contexts. Some may work full-time in their chosen field for a particular performing arts organisation. Others may undertake short-term or contract work, performing a particular piece for a short season and then moving on to another job (sometimes in a completely different industry). Many entertainers work sporadically or part-time, and need to supplement their income with other types ofwork. Some entertainers chose to tour their act, taking it throughout the State, around the country or across the globe performing for new audiences in different locations. They often need to work to strict deadlines, and conditions may be stressful. Many entertainers do not receive a regular salary, but receive a portion of the profits made by entertainment venues, which may vary depending on the size of audiences.

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Salary details

On average, entertainers or variety artists, classified under actors, dancers, and other entertainers, can expect to earn up to $799 per week ($41 599 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience.

Earnings for entertainers or variety artists can vary considerably, depending on their level of experience, the nature of the work they do, the amount of work they can get, and the success and popularity of their act. As an entertainer or variety artist develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Entertainers use costumes, make-up and other props. They may also work on or with sets, as well as with sound and lighting equipment. Some entertainers may use circus equipment such as unicycles, trapeze, stilts or juggling balls. Some also use musical instruments. Most entertainers will need to know how to use office equipment such as computers, phones and photocopiers to undertake administrative tasks, in preparation for a performance.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as an entertainer or variety artist without formal qualifications. However, you are more likely to improve your employment prospects if you have many years of experience or have completed formal training in performing arts, theatre, acting, circus performance, dance, music, singing or a related area.

VET courses and university degrees in these areas are widely available from TAFE colleges, registered training organisations and universities throughout Western Australia.

Contact the training providers you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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