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Performing arts

Stagehand

Stagehands help to get things ready on set for performances in the theatre, at concerts and in TV and film studios.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £28,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; away from home

Day to day tasks

You could:

  • load and unload equipment
  • help carpenters build and put up scenery
  • attend rehearsals
  • move scenery, furniture and heavy equipment
  • open and close theatre screens and curtains between acts
  • operate manual and automated scenery-moving machinery
  • help clear all staging and equipment at the end of a performance

Working environment

You could work in a theatre, at a TV studio or at a film studio.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, cramped, hot, noisy and at height.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
University

You can do a foundation degree or degree in a subject like:

  • stage and production management
  • sound engineering and production
  • theatre and production arts

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
College

You can take a college course, for example:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Technical Theatre - Sound, Light and Stage
  • Level 3 Diploma in Production Arts
  • T Level in Media, Broadcast and Production

The skills you'll learn on these courses could help when you look for a trainee job with a stage or production company.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
For more information
Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a creative venue technician advanced apprenticeship.

This typically takes 24 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You may be able to start in a theatre or venue as a member of the casual backstage staff and work your way up.

You can contact a theatre's resident stage manager or master carpenter to find out about possible opportunities.

Volunteering and work experience

Any backstage experience you have from school, college, amateur or fringe productions will be helpful.

More information

Career tips

You may have an advantage if you've got skills and experience in carpentry, electrical work, sound or lighting.

Further information

You can find out more about working and training as a stagehand from Get Into Theatre and the Association of British Theatre Technicians.

You can get more information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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With experience, you could lead a crew of stagehands and scene builders. You could also take further training to become a production carpenter, sound or lighting engineer. You could do a creative industries production manager degree apprenticeship to become a stage manager.

You could also work freelance for theatre venues, TV or film studios, touring theatre companies and large-scale concert tours.

Creative Choices has more information about careers in the theatre and the performing arts.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of building and construction
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • persistence and determination
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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