How to Become a Circus Performer

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Circus performers entertain diverse audiences by showcasing great skill, intensity and talent. They usually work individually or in groups, and often perform one or a combination of many circus arts, such as juggling and clowning. If you have the confidence, talent and skill to entertain people, circus performing could be your ideal career.

What do Circus Performers do?

Although the primary duty of circus performers is to perform various circus acts to an audience, they do most of the work behind the scenes. This includes;

  • Rehearsing to polish their skills
  • Exercising to keep the body fit
  • Designing new acts
  • Maintaining the equipment they use to act
  • Promoting their services to prospective clients

Apart from clowning and juggling, other popular circus acts include;

  • Object manipulation
  • Acro balance
  • Acrobatic tumbling
  • Flying trapeze
  • Tight or slack-rope walking

Work Environment

If your love jobs with regular schedules, circus performing will certainly disappoint you! These performers usually have long and irregular working hours, with plenty of work in the evenings and weekends. They often perform in tents, theaters and outdoor venues, such as street theaters. Circus performers also may spend most of the year travelling.


Because most circus performers work on a part-time or temporary basis, income varies widely. According to the National Careers Service, circus performers make between £50 and £200 per show. The Circus Development Agency recommends a weekly salary of at least £400 for performers in fulltime jobs. Therefore, you can expect to earn an average salary of over £2,000 per month.

Entry Requirements

Advanced academic qualifications play a insignificant role in becoming a circus performer. All you need is talent, confidence and skill. However, to develop these skills and increase your competence, you will need to;

  • Attend part-time courses
  • Participate in community circuses
  • Attend weekend and summer workshops
  • Purse full-time professional courses

In the UK, organisations that offer full-time professional courses include;

Although these institutions have varying entry requirements, you generally need to be at least 18 years old and pass an audition. These courses are also suitable for professionals, such as high divers, dancers, gymnasts and actors looking to become circus performers.

After securing any of these qualifications, you can join a touring circus company in a casual job or as a general assistant.

Required Skills and Abilities

Being a unique job, circus performers should develop the following characteristics;

  • Manual dexterity – ability to perform actions with hands skillfully
  • Versatility and creativity
  • Ability to work in a group
  • Physical fitness and self-motivation
  • Patience to build skills gradually
  • Confidence to perform in public.

Career Progression

Continuing to develop your skills, design new acts and pursue further qualifications is the perfect career progression recipe for circus performers. The institutions listed above, including NoFit State Circus offer advanced courses, which you can pursue part-time or full-time.

Employment Prospects

The top employers for circus performers include;

  • Amusement parks
  • Cruise ships
  • Live ships
  • Touring circus company

With more qualifications and experience, you can move on to become a circus teacher or a circus director, where you will focus on helping beginning performers develops their skills.                                      

Want to earn a living entertaining people? Well, now you know how you can do it!

Visit The Stage and Arts Hub for more information on circus performing.