Entertainment Careers – Jobs, Salaries & Education


Updated October 11, 2023 · 5 Min Read

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The exciting and diverse field of competitive entertainment offers a variety of careers. Many of the most highly sought-after entertainment careers require a lot of talent and training. However, the entertainment industry requires an array of skills and aptitudes from all types of professionals to make it function properly, not just those in front of the spotlight.

Below, we provide information about employment outlook, salary, training, education, and much more. Once you’ve thoroughly explored this section of our site on Entertainment Careers make sure to continue looking through our extensive career guide and keep reading about all the different career options until you find the perfect path for you!

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Education and Certifications Actors Need

Although some actors have succeeded without a degree, they stand a better chance of winning roles if they’ve had some formal training, either through a conservatory or a university with a strong theater program. Most movie actors undergo years of training. Every time an actor takes a new role, he most likely learns something more about the craft.

Some colleges and universities provide a Bachelor in Theatre Performance degree or a Bachelor in Performing Arts degree or a Bachelor in Music Theatre degree.

What They Do

Many of us, at one time or another, dream of being an actor or actress; the fame and money top movie actors earn make it seem like an appealing career choice.

An acting career involves interpreting and learning scripts to portray characters in plays, TV shows, videos and movies. An actor often finds work as an extra or in commercials, or at live events or at theme parks. Some actors also dance, sing or use their skills to inform or instruct, as well as entertain.

Professional actors have agents who represent them, setting up interviews and auditions with directors and producers. For all but the most successful, an acting career often involves far more auditions than roles won. Most movie actors have another career to rely on because of the large gaps in employment often part of an acting career.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Some experienced actors take on the role of director or producer, but the advancement most actors crave remains the often elusive bigger, better role.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $36,379
2016 number of jobs 63,800
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements Long-term on-the-job training
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $18,658
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $185,286

Dancers and Choreographers

Education and Certifications Dancers and Choreographers Need

Candidates for a job as a dancer or a dancing choreographers begin training as children. While they don’t need an academic degree, the skills they acquire and hone while working on a bachelor’s or master’s in dance can make them better qualified for roles as dancers or a career in dance choreography.

Teaching dance in colleges or public elementary and high schools does require a master’s degree. Nearly every dancing choreographer began his or her career as a dancer.

Some colleges and universities offer a Bachelor in Dance degree, a Bachelor in Dance and Choreography degree, a Master in Dance degree or a Master in Choreography degree.

What They Do

The parents of dancers and choreographers belong to a select group of people who can say “Wow, all those lessons, tutus and tights really paid off.” A dance career and a choreographer career each require a combination of talent, skill and physical strength.

Dancers spend years in training and go to myriad classes to acquire and maintain a high level of technical skill and fitness for a dance career that may lead to a choreographer career. Dancers specialize in various types of dance, including ballet, modern dance, tap and jazz, using movements to express ideas and stories.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Some dancers become dance captains in musical theater or ballet masters/mistresses in concert dance companies. Eventually they may become choreographers, producers or directors.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $35,672
2016 number of jobs 20,400
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 4%
Entry-level education requirements Long-term on-the-job training
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $21,341
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $92,518

Musicians and Singers

Education and Certifications Musicians and Singers Need

A career as a classical musician or singer usually requires a Bachelor degree in Music Theory or a Bachelor degree in Music Performance. Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles and teach ways to improve instrumental and vocal technique and musical expression.

Find the best school for you: The 20 Best Music Conservatories in the U.S.

What They Do

Whether they perform live or in recording studios, people talented enough to work as musicians or singers bring the words and notes on sheet music to life. They play one or more instruments or sing. Musicians and singers combine lyrics and melodies to communicate thoughts and emotions.

A singing career and a musician career take hard work and dedication and a confidence to perform for others. Musicians and singers usually gravitate toward a particular type of music, such as country, rock, pop, classical, rhythm and blues or reggae. Instruments range from voice to oboe, drums and violin.

A singer uses one or more vocal ranges, such as alto, soprano, baritone or bass in certain music styles. Singers might find employment as back-up performers for bands, jingle singers, cruise ship singers, nightclub entertainers or even vocal teachers. Most singers free-lance their skills, working contractually with recording labels, nightclubs or tour venues.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Well known musicians and singers can find work more easily and earn more money for each performance..

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $56,077
2016 number of jobs 172,400
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 6%
Entry-level education requirements No formal educational credential
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $20,176
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $145,205

Producers and Directors

Education and Certifications Producers and Directors Need

People pursuing a director career often earn a degree in writing, acting, journalism or communications, while the foundation of a producer career involves the business, arts management or nonprofit management arena.

Many stage directors earn a degree in theater and may go on to complete a master of fine arts degree. Movie directors may pursue a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or certification in film theory and technical skills.

What They Do

When we go to movies or watch television, we focus on the actors, characters and plots, but the work of producers and directors contributes far more than we might expect. Producers and directors interpret a writer’s script to make it as entertaining and informative as possible.

Producer careers and director careers include working with stage productions as well as in the radio and video industries.

Producers and directors take responsibility for creative decisions, casting, guests, set design, sound, special effects and choreography. People who choose a producer career or a director career know about many facets of the entertainment industry.

A large movie set has several different producers with the executive producer in charge of the entire production, and a line producer running the day-to-day operations. An executive producer career includes making the business and financial decisions for a movie, raising money and hiring the director and crew.

Several assistant directors work on large shows, handling a variety of tasks and focusing on creative decisions.

A director works closely with film editors in post-production.

Career Advancement Opportunities

As a producer or director earns a good reputation, he or she may be sought out to work on larger or more important projects.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $71,620
2016 number of jobs 134,700
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $33,730
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $164,290

Set and Exhibit Designers

Education and Certifications Set and Exhibit Designers Need

Some people seeking a set designer career or an exhibit designer career obtain a Bachelor of Set Design, Scenic Design, or Theater degree from a program accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design or the National Association of Schools of Theatre.

Set designers and exhibit designers don’t need specific licenses or certifications.

What They Do

Set designers and exhibit designers play and important role in helping transport people’s imaginations to a different time and place, whether it’s for a play, movie, television show, or exhibit.

A set designer career and an exhibit designer career involve reading scripts and researching the history of artifacts in order to create appropriate and believable sets and exhibit designs. A set designer career and an exhibit designer career includes identifying the intended audience and catering to their preferences while designing a set or exhibit.

Set designers and exhibit designers often use computer-aided design (CAD) programs when creating prototypes of sets or exhibits.

Set designer careers and exhibit designer careers involve meeting and consulting with directors, curators, clients, production staff, and other designers in order to agree upon a final vision and the steps to take to reach their goal. Set designers read scripts and familiarize themselves with the story.

Set designers and exhibit designers work within a given budget and time line or sometimes must create their own.

Live theatrical performance set designers specialize in creating sets for live performances such as theater, ballet, and opera.

Television or movie set designers create sets for T.V. and motion pictures, which may include travelling to a specific location or creating a set within a studio.

Television studio set designers create sets for news and sports broadcasts, talk shows, interviews, and other in-studio programs.

Trade show or convention designers specialize in exhibits focused on demonstrating products. These designers have the pressure of very limited space and the need to stand out among multiple nearby sets.

Exhibit designers specialize in designing areas to display art or artifacts for museum exhibits. They must consider space and leave enough room for people to admire the artifacts but also move around them easily and carefully.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $92,500
2016 number of jobs 90,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 5%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $51,130
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $170,230

* Salary, number of jobs and employment growth provided by

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