The business of being a professional magician has had a renaissance. Because of that, it can create serious competition once you decide to become a professional. Be as unique as possible to help you stand out and make more money per year. What you make depends on if you’re just starting out, where you live and if you've been employed by a major entertainment company.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that all professional performers make a mean hourly wage of $18.60 an hour, which roughly translates to $38,688 a year. The upper 90 percent of all professional performers make $33.27 an hour, and the lowest 10 percent make $8.69 an hour. State University says, though, that the median annual salary of a professional magician can go up to $49,000 per year.
In an interview with Judith Ritter on American Public Media’s Marketplace Money page, professional magician Gary Flesher says that $100,000 is a good salary for professional magicians. A pro can make up to $1 million a year, Flesher notes, but he points out he's not one of them. He also says that during times of economic uncertainty, how much you charge as a magician may make a big difference in whether people decide to come see you or not.
States With Highest Employment and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists New Jersey as the top state with the highest employment for performers such as magicians, due to Atlantic City being a consistent employer of magicians and other performers. In that state, these performers may make as much as $28.04 an hour. Nevada is second at $27.55 per hour, thanks to Las Vegas, where a significant number of magicians are employed. The bureau lists Illinois as the highest-paying state, at $39.57 an hour. Massachusetts is second at $30.22 an hour, and New Jersey is third at $28.04 an hour.
Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas
The Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Illinois, metropolitan division, the highest-paying metropolitan area for performers such as magicians, is an extension of Illinois being the best-paying state. In this area, a magician may make as much as $44.53 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey, is second, at $35.94 an hour.
You don’t have to have a college degree to become a professional magician, though Education-Portal.com recommends at least a high school diploma. A number of magician clubs are also available that provide hands-on training programs to all working magicians. One of these is the Academy of Magical Arts through The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, California.