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How to Become an Entertainer

Entertainers bring fun and excitement to an audience in a variety of ways, by providing vocal or instrumental performances, dance, comedy, magic, or feats of daring. To be an entertainer and get paid for it, you must develop your talent and find a way to connect with audiences.

What’s Your Talent?

Many entertainers began honing their skills during childhood. They may have taken lessons in voice, instrumental music, theater or dance. Or, they may have had an opportunity to sing in a church choir, play an instrument in the school’s marching band or perform in a school play.

If you didn’t develop a talent in your youth, it’s never too late. There are many types of entertainers. Some common personality traits of an entertainer include having an outgoing nature and lots of energy and loving the spotlight.

Decide what interests you and learn all you can. Check out tutorials on YouTube. Find out which classes are available at your community college or adult learning center. Check out books at the library. Enroll in vocal or instrumental lessons at your local music store. Talk with entertainers who do what you’d like to do.

Performance Venues

When most entertainers start out, they perform without pay. Some never earn any money at their art but perform simply because they love entertaining people and sharing their passion. You might start out singing karaoke or performing at an open mic event. Libraries, senior centers and street fairs are other venues that offer opportunities for entertainers to showcase their talents. In addition to actors, community theater productions often need singers, dancers and instrumentalists. Depending on the show, they may even need someone with special talents such as juggling or performing with a trained dog.

As you become more proficient as a performer and gain some recognition, you may be able to get paid for what you do. Entertainers are needed for children’s birthday parties, at community and senior centers, schools, libraries, galleries, comedy clubs, restaurants, coffeehouses and pubs.

Marketing Your Talent

Who is the best singer in the world? The funniest comedian? The greatest guitar player? Chances are you can talk with 10 different people and get 10 different answers for each category of entertainer. As an aspiring entertainer, that’s encouraging news. There’s room in the entertainment industry for many types of entertainers, with jobs that appeal to different markets and tastes.

You don’t have to be famous to make a living as an entertainer. In cities and small towns, on cruise ships and at resorts, entertainers earn a very comfortable living showcasing their talents. Sometimes, job openings are posted ‒ this is especially true with cruise lines and amusement and theme parks. Most entertainers get their start through self-promotion. They talk with people at the venues where they hope to perform. They use social media to showcase their talent. They take opportunities to perform whenever they can to spread the word and build a fan base.

The quality of an entertainer depends on skills mastered in addition to the ability to engage an audience. The personality traits of an entertainer are important in getting an audience to like you.

Salary and Job Outlook

The cruise industry is currently riding a wave of success and is one of the few venues offering steady, full-time employment to singers, dancers, musicians, and other entertainers such as magicians, hypnotists and mentalists. Headliners on a cruise ship can earn $4,000 to $18,000 a month. A lounge performer, usually a pianist who sings, can command $2,500 to $4,800 per month, often on a part-time basis.

It’s human nature to seek pleasure and diversion from everyday life, so there will always be a place for entertainers. If you’re looking to make a living, however, in the entertainment industry, you must plan to work hard at your craft. In addition, you must be prepared to face competition from fellow entertainers and for changing public tastes.

Many entertainers find satisfaction in the act of performing. A guitar player may strum some tunes in a cafe in exchange for free coffee. A puppeteer can find enjoyment in entertaining children during a library’s story-time hour.


Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.