Entertainers perform a variety of acts to entertain an audience. In this group are included: magicians, jugglers, clowns, buskers, variety artists and other similar performers.

Entertainers work in a variety of different performance areas such as juggling, magic, mime, gymnastics, storytelling, comedy and clowning in front of audiences.

They may do any or all of the following: create performance routines, and sometimes a character and rehearse their acts. They may put together proposals to get work. They usually dress in costumes to suit their performances.

Entertainers need to have performance skills, creative ability and skill in their specialist area. They also need to have good communication and memorising skills. Business, marketing, networking and planning skills are important, as most entertainers are self-employed and need to be able to create their own work opportunities.

They need to know about body posture and movement, human behaviour and character development, performance techniques, acting and safety practices. Knowledge of other cultures is also important to avoid offending any members of an audience.

Entertainers work indoors in theatres, hotels, restaurants, libraries and shopping malls, and outside in parks, gardens and on the streets. Entertainers perform at conferences and corporate functions, weddings, children’s birthday parties, open days, and for seasonal occasions such as Christmas parties. They spend a lot of time travelling between performance venues in their city and some entertainers travel around the country and overseas.

Entertainers work indoors and outdoors in a range of conditions. Some entertainers may be unable to perform in some places because of the nature of their acts; for example, fire performers are not usually allowed to perform in hotels.

Most entertainers work independently. They interact with a wide variety of people including other performers, event organisers and the audience. Entertainers work irregular hours, including weekends and evenings. They may experience seasonal peaks and they may only perform part-time, depending on demand.

Most entertainers are self-employed and have to work hard to create their own employment opportunities. The increasing number of people working in this field has also made the marketplace competitive, which means marketing and business skills have become more important for attracting new clients. Many people try entertaining, but to stay in this career requires a great deal of perseverance, and many drop out.

Well-known and recognised entertainers may earn well but most entertainers only work part-time, and many combine entertaining with other types of employment because of the often insecure and/or seasonal nature of entertainment work.

Another problem potential entertainers have is learning practical entertaining skills such as how to ride a unicycle or swallow a sword. In the past there was no formal training available, so most entertainers were either self-taught or learned from an experienced entertainer. While this will continue to be the way many entertainers learn, there are now some courses available in the performing arts, which teach some basic performance techniques.

Technology has affected the occupation in three main ways. The Internet has made new performance material more accessible and it is now quick and easy to order new equipment. The equipment has also improved; for example, tricks that used to be made out of wood are now being made out of plastic, which is lighter, more manoeuvrable and better for concealing tricks. Many entertainers are also using lighting, audiovisual and sound equipment to make their acts more spectacular.

Personal Requirements

  • creative and observant
  • self-confident
  • able to communicate ideas and feelings
  • disciplined, self-motivated and able to accept criticism
  • patience and persistence
  • good coordination
  • expressive voice and body
  • stamina and concentration
  • good physical strength and health

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate for a diploma course in ballet or dance

What to Study

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming an entertainer, but training in music, song, dance, drama or improvisation may be helpful for developing skills in entertaining. It may also be useful to obtain a diploma or certificate in one of the performing arts.

Entertainers need to have natural ability and skill in the area in which they wish to perform. Experience in performing and entertaining is preferred.

Entertainers may train with experienced entertainers or through clubs, workshops, summer schools and conferences, which may feature local and international entertainers. They may also train at drama schools or with theatre companies. Entertainers need to continually update their acts to keep them new and fresh, which they do in a variety of ways such as by reading and using the Internet.


  • performing arts councils
  • television and theatres
  • general entertainment industries
  • dance schools, as a educator
  • work on a freelance basis
  • self-employment

Further Information

68/1114 Wargrave Road, 
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 554 9972

Getting Started

  • make an appointment to speak to an entertainer about this type of career
  • useful experience for entertainers includes busking, modelling and acting, performing as a musician or singer, and artistic or creative work
  • join a local club to learn the basics and meet other interested people
  • learn from instructional videotapes and books

Programmes by Study Institutions

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