The performing arts industry is ideal for you if you enjoy expressing your creative personality, such as dancing, drama or singing, or playing a musical instrument. However, this sector is not only about performing in front of an audience; there are also great opportunities for those who have creative practical skills who are key to staging entertainment events, such as stagehands, lighting technicians, arts administrators or community artists.
According to latest figures (2022), employment in the performing arts industry increased by approximately 12% compared to the previous year. The number of employees in this industry reached 67,000 in 2022, an increase from 60,000 in 2021.
This career area includes working as a performer in dance, drama, music and other forms of entertainment, from stand-up comedy to circus acts. Jobs in arts administration, community arts, music technology and theatre technology are also included in this sector. You can also teach any of these subjects from secondary school through to university level.
To see the routes to getting into each of these sectors, take a look at our Career Pathway.
Working within the performing arts encompasses a wide range of organisations including:
Despite the glamour of this career area, the harsh reality for performers is usually years of hard work in the face of tough competition, rejections at auditions and frequent periods of unemployment or working in temporary unrelated jobs.
It is not always easy to get into the music industry. There are some full time classical music jobs, but most popular musicians do individual gigs for which they charge a fee.
Most performers, famous or not, are usually highly trained or qualified. The majority of actors have had formal training, almost all classical musicians have qualifications and a large proportion of popular musicians are trained to a high level. Dancers usually start their training at a very young age.
Competition for non-performance jobs such as arts administration, stage management and theatre technology is also fierce.
The Creative and Cultural Skills website has information on getting into the arts – developing opportunities for young people to learn about careers in the sector.
The Discover Creative Careers website also has information on getting into the arts.