Circus Performer Jobs



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Our Main Findings

  1. A Circus Performer is someone who performs a variety of acts of skills, endeavour, humour, or entertainment to an audience.
  2. They need to be highly skilled at one or more particular acts, which usually also require a high level of physical fitness, dexterity, and flexibility.
  3. They must be good performing in front of an audience, and happy to work in a wide variety of different types of show, as they will need to go where the work is.
  4. Most circus performers are freelance and as such get paid depending on the amount of work they can get, and how popular they are. Those at the very top of the profession can earn in excess of £500 a day.
  5. No formal qualification are needed. It is all about practice, and honing your skills, although there are some courses and degrees available.
  6. Jobs are advertised in the arts press, but it is advisable to secure an agent if you can afford to as this will help to build a steady stream of work and a more reliable income. Lots of circus performers also work as street performers which can also be fairly lucrative.

What is a Circus Performer?

A Circus Performer is someone who performs a variety of acts of skills, endeavour, humour, or entertainment to an audience. These are often built around a core of circus skills such as clowning, juggling, acrobatics, contortionism, magic, tightrope walking, trapeze artistry, and so on.

It is a hugely popular form of performance to this day, with travelling circuses regularly cropping up all across the UK, and indeed right around the world. They deliver a light-hearted, family-friendly type of entertainment, enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Circuses can also still fill the big venues as well, and continue to break entertainment boundaries on a regular basis. One of the most famous circuses in the world today, the Cirque du Soleil, is a classic case of a world famous circus creating new and innovative shows which are driving the world of the circus forwards into the 21st Century.

What Skills and Responsibilities are there?

A Circus Performer is a highly skilled and unique profession that requires those working in it to build a very special set of skills, which can take many years to perfect.

Physical fitness is often a core requirement, as is excellent hand-eye coordination, flexibility, and dexterity. Many circuses will require their performers to have perfected not just one but several relevant skills, so just because you are a good juggler, can ride a unicycle, or walk on stilts, you still may not be good enough. If you can do all three however, it might be a different story.

As well as being physically challenging, developing circus skills can also be very mentally draining as well. It requires a huge amount of patience and perseverance to develop you skills to a level where they are good enough to perform. Whilst some people are lucky enough to have the chance to do this whilst working within a circus environment, many will find themselves working alone, at home, painstakingly trying to improve a skill which may seem to pointless to their family of friends.

This also means circus performers need to be able to show a great deal of dedication and self-motivation, often for many years, before they can make a living doing what they love.

Once you have developed those skills, you also need to be able to put it into an act. This might require creativity and invention on your part to make your skill into something other people would enjoy watching. You might also need to be able to follow choreographic or direction from more experienced circus performers and directors.

You will need to be comfortable performing in front of live audiences of course, and also auditioning to very judgemental panels when looking for work. Depending on your skills, you might also need to be quick-witted and a good public speaker as well as have strong problem solving skills and be good working under pressure.

Pay and Benefits

Whilst the very best circus performers might be lucky enough to work for a big circus and earn a regular income, many will be self-employed performers and make money based on the number of jobs they can win for themselves. Performers may be paid per show or for a run of consecutive shows with income depending on the size of the show and the popularity of your act within it.

Many circus performers turn to street performance to secure a regular income directly from the general public. The success of this approach can depend on the location and time of year, but such acts do tend to be popular and so can be fairly lucrative.

So income is rarely stable, but if you are lucky enough to make it right to the very top of your trade, there are rich rewards to be had, with Cirque Du Soleil performers earning £500 a day or more.


Academic qualifications serve no purpose in the world of circus performance, where it is all about practise, and the ability to hone your skill to the highest possible level.

Needless to say there are a wide variety of course that can be taken, including circus degree courses, and a number of specialist circus schools dotted around the country.

If they were honest though, they would admit that the main benefit of such courses is giving performers more time, in a controlled environment, to practise their skills.

It is unlikely however that your degree in Circus skills will secure you any meaningful over a similar performer without such a qualification.

Finding Jobs

As well as circuses, which is where most performers want to be plying their trade, there are a number of other potential employers out there.

Theatres and Cruise Ships can hire circus performers to be art of a production, or to entertain a specific audience. There is some work to be found with corporate and children’s events, and it is not unusual for a bar or restaurant to have a regular performer on for the benefit of their guests. Theme parks also regularly hire circus performers.

Performance is usually only a small part of the working day for the average performer with practice and warming up and down playing as much of a role day to day.

Job opportunities are usually advertised in trade publications such as the Stage, but it is also advisable to seek to secure an agent to get you work as this can lead to a much more reliable stream of gigs, and therefore income.

Always perform a Job Search with UK Jobs Guide, see the pod at the top of the page.

Should work be hard to come by, the most effective way of increasing your employability is to develop your skills into another area as well.


Further Reading

If you are interested in taking a course in circus skills, there are courses to be found at schools such as The Circus Space, London, Circomedia, Bristol, Greentop Circus, Sheffield, and No Fit State Circus, Cardiff.

For our guides to other fun professions, visit the UK Jobs Guide Fun Jobs Section

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